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Latin Club

Junior Classical League

If you are not yet familiar with the JCL I would encourage you to check it out.  This is an organization dedicated to promoting the study of classics in secondary schools.  The Grace Academy Latin Club attended the Texas State JCL convention on March 26 – 27, 2010.  We had a blast!  We also had our best showing ever – our little school placed 5th in the HUGE state of Texas!  With more than 4,000 students attending from all over the Lone Star State (both public and private schools) that is worth “yahooing” over.  You can see our results on  the Latin page of the GA website (link provided in blogroll).  The JCL holds conventions each year on the area, state, and national level.  These provide a wide variety of competitions in areas such as: academics, oratory, vocals, art, drama, costume, and olympika to name a few.  I have found the JCL to be a great tool to not only encourage students not only in their studies, but encourage them to go beyond the classroom as they discover new facets of classical studies.  Joining JCL is easy – you need only five members and a Latin teacher/sponsor to get a club started.  I encourage you to visit the JCL website to learn more about the organizations in your area.

National Junior Classical League (NJCL) –

Texas State Junior Classical League (TSJCL) –

Grace Academy Latin Club –

The Ides of March – A Reenactment

Read this news story about a Laitn Club in Massachusettes and how they commemorated the Ides of March. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Make a Roman Toga

This post will give step-by-step instructions for making your own toga, complete with pictures. Even those with the most novice of sewing skills will be able to put together a respectable toga following these instructions. Read the rest of this entry »

Dramatic Performance: The Death of Euryalus

In this clip you will see one of our 10th grade students performing a scene from Vergil's Aeneid, "The Death of Euryalus."  Josh won first place at both the Area and Texas State Junior Classical League Conventions for this performance.  He also won 2nd place at the National JCL Convention in California in July, 2009.  You may note that Josh recites the poem in dactylic hexameter as he portrays the suspense and passion of the death scene.  An excellent performance!

The art of oratory and dramatic performance is key for students in classical education.  This project has become my favorite and one that the students look forward to each year as well.  You can find oratory and dramatic interpretation passages for students of all levels at the website for the National Junior Classical League (  Look under "creative arts."

Baylor Latin Day

Baylor Latin Day is coming! Every year the Classics Dept. of Baylor University (Waco, TX) opens its doors to Latin students from across the state. Festivities will be held this year on Friday, Feb. 26, 8:30a.m. – 3:30p.m.

Use this link for registration (due Jan. 15):
Baylor Latin Day Registration

Events include:

  • verb parsing bee for students who have taken Latin for 19 months or more
  • declinables parsing bee for students with 18 months or less or Latin
  • Lunch in Baylor’s campus dining halls
  • a brief adaptation of a play by Plautus
  • an optional campus tour
  • a certamen tournament, with questions drawn from various aspects of Roman culture, art, and, of course, language. Please note that only the first eight teams to register for the certamen will be able to participate.
  • Latin Day will conclude with a video competition. Each school is invited to make and submit a video that promotes the study of the Latin language. The videos should be no longer than 5 minutes and should be submitted at least 48 hours in advance of Latin Day.  Electronic files can be sent to

Schools arriving on Thursday night should contact Mrs. Thelma Mathews (254-710-1399 or for hotel recommendations and phone numbers. Hotel costs are beyond the $12/student registration fee, which is due on January 15. You can now register on-line and pay by credit card.

GA students enjoy Latin Day at Baylor University

GA students enjoy Latin Day at Baylor University

Gingerbread Greek Theater

Gingerbread Greek Theater

Gingerbread Greek Theater


One of my all time favorite projects would be the gingerbread architecture project. Each year my students spend the week before Thanksgiving reconstructing an ancient architectural wonder entirely out of gingerbread and other edible materials. Past projects have included the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Trojan Horse. This year our class took on a Greek Theater.  We first engaged in a lecture on the design of the Greek theater, the various elements involved and the purpose for their design.  Students looked at the original purpose for the orchestra section, the skene (with its traditional three arches), and the theatron.  We also looked at many pictures of Greek theatres still settled into the beautiful hillsides of the Greek country side.  Our students drew inspiration from all of this to create their own theater packed with patrons who are watching a performance.  Since it is the beginning of the Christmas season, we surrounded our theatre with Christmas trees, a decorative western tradition inspired by the Roman holiday Saturnalia.



Theatron – The theatre itself. The early theatres were nestled into a hillside that naturally provided “stadium seating.”  Later the Romans would build lofty structures that created such seating even in the midst of a city.

Orchestra – Initially this was the area in front of the stage where the chorus would recite, sing, play instruments, and dance depending upon the direction called for within the play.  The earliest plays were religious festivals in honor of Dionysus, god of the harvest.  An altar was usually placed in the midst of the orchestra for the god.

Parados – This is a special side entrance for dignitaries such as the senators, upper class, and priests. At times this might also be utilized by the actors.

Skene – This is the Greek word for “tent.” The harvest tents provided the first backdrops for theatrical productions given in honor of Dionysus.  greek-theatre-grangerEventually permanent structures took the place of tents, but retained the name.  Today we derive our word “scene” from this Greek origin.


The wonderful part about this project is that while the students are enjoying a fun divergence from the normal routine, they are really learning a great deal about ancient culture. Students learned the history of the theater, the key elements of the theater structure itself, and even enjoyed a reading of Euripides’ play, “Helen.”



The audience is captivated as they watch the drama unfold – actors in masks, a dead body, and treasure. Oh the suspense!


For more lessons in gingerbread architecture, please visit the following:

Gingerbread Pantheon

Gingerbread Circus Maximus

Dormice for your Christmas Table

Each year I enjoy putting on a Roman Banquet with my students. Each time I require students to bring an authentic Roman dish. Strangely, no one has ever volunteered to bring the famous (or infamous) stuffed dormice. This year, that may change. Read the rest of this entry »

Was Rome Built In A Day?

Rome wasn’t built in a day, or was it? It was in Texas this weekend. On September 26th, Los Angeles-based artist Liz Glynn and an army of fellow volunteers did build Rome in a day (24 hours to be precise) at Arthouse. It was organized chaos and a whole lot of fun. I took some reinforcements, a few of the younger members of Grace Academy’s Latin Club, to help with the project. Our assignment: the Baths of Agrippa. You can see a picture of our team below and the famous baths (just don’t compare our version too closely with the original). For more information and pictures of this project please visit the Arthouse website.

GA Latin Students reconstruct a portion of Rome.

GA Latin Students reconstruct a portion of Rome.

Daphne (Laurels Have No Lovers)

The following is a poem written by one of my tenth grade students at Grace Academy. The poem recently won first place at the Texas State Junior Classical League Convention - quite an honor. The poem is based on the popular myth of Daphne and Apollo. Read the rest of this entry »

Latin Club

At Grace Academy one of the ways we really make Latin come alive for students is with a very active Latin Club.  The GA Latin Club is an official member of both the National Junior Classical Leage and the Texas State Junior Classical League.  The National Junior Classical League is an organization of more than 5,000 schools in the U.S. and Canada, whose purpose is to promote the study of classics in secondary education.  Membership is open to students in both public and private schools, as well as in home school settings.  It takes only 5 students to form a chapter.  So if you can’t find one near you, it is easy to create your own.  As members there are a number of competitive opportunities for our students.  For those students who are competitive by nature (most of mine) the carrot of competition will motivate them more than any score on an assignment or report card.  Such events include pen pal programs, national creative writing contests, and the popular Latin conventions on the area, state, and national level.  Our club is at this very moment excitedly preparing for our local Area Latin Convention.  Yes, I said “excitedly!”  Whether the competition is academics, vocals, art, olympics, drama, oratory, costume, or another event, every student can find something that not only matches his/her own interests.  There is truly something in Latin for everyone!

Of course, Latin Club is not limited to offical NJCL events.  Our club also enjoys special creative events like gingerbread architecture, t-shirt designs, Christmas carolling with Latin songs,  pizza toga parties, and much more.  These young people often surprise me with their own fun and creative ways to apply their Latin studies outside the classroom.  When they begin generating the ideas and pushing you, then you know Latin has truly come alive for them.

Nota Bene:

  • For more information on the NJCL or to find out more information about individual state and local chapters, please visit
  • For more information on the Grace Academy Latin Club, including pictures of recent activities, please visit our website posted on the blogroll.  Perhaps you will find something there to inspire your club.  Let us know if you come up with any great ideas of your own.