[Click here for photos – username is dean_l@summitcds.org and password is njcl2011.]

Some McAuley girls check out the Starbucks: Rachel, Mary, Margaret, and Monica

I slept in a bit today because – once convention starts – things get busy and stay busy.  I missed the breakfast in the dining hall but found a Starbucks in the library.  By the time I was finished, the 2 hour window for lunch had begun.  I ate lunch with fellow OH Latin teachers Christy Bening (Columbus Academy), Daniel Cavoli (St. Edward), and Emelie St. Cyr (Wellington).  The topics of conversation were various:  the tiny bathrooms, the AC in the rooms (good, but sometimes too good), IB programs, new opportunities for high school students to receive college credit, summer Latin programs, etc.  What did I eat?  A big salad with French dressing (in honor of my mom), some ziti pasta, and a lemonade.  The day is off to a strong start.

Offical Seal of Wake Forest University

The picture above has some great classical & ecclesiastical references:  pro humanitate means ‘for humanity’; the chi-rho symbol in the middle refers to the first 2 Greek letters in Christos (‘Anointed One’); and the alpha on the left and omega on the right refer to a quote from Revelations, ‘I am the alpha and the omega’ (which means the beginning and the end, since alpha & omega are the first & last letters of the Greek alphabet).

The convention opened with the 1st General Assembly.  This is a daily event where all attendees gather together.  This is one of the biggest NJCL conventions in recent years, with 1,620 students, teachers, college students, and adults here on campus.  2012 marks the 59th annual NJCL Convention.

Why are we here?  Because we all support the study of Latin.  The NJCL has 47,619 members in 1,120 schools in 47 different states.  It is one of the most active youth organizations in the country.  The state with the most members is Texas (my wife is smiling), with 5,108 members.  There are 97 schools in the country – including Madeira, Indian Hill, Wyoming, Lakota West, and Summit – with over 100 members, and 10 schools even have over 200 members.

Ohio has 33 chapters and 1,719 members from throughout the state.  About half of these school are in the Cincinnati area.  This year, Ohio has 171 total attendees:  135 students (86 boys, 49 girls), 16 teachers, 15 college students, 2 adult chaperones, and 3 NJCL organizers.  The headquarters of the NJCL is located at Miami University in Oxford OH.  Go OHIO!

An OH JCL'er shares a moment with the State Chair outside of the 1st GA.

The 1st GA was filled with OH people on stage and winning awards:

  • Dan Garrett (Lakota East, Ohio University) is the National Senior Classical League President.  These college students run all the athletic competitions here at the convention, from Ludi (team sports like soccer and ultimate frisbee) to Olympika (track & field events and swimming).  They rightly call themselves the ‘omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, indispensable SCL.’
  • Sam Buck (Westlake) is the NJCL Parliamentarian.  Sam is a former OJCL President.  Her name earned a burst of applause from the assembly (mostly OH, but apparently she has supporters from other states, too).  When Wake Forest Provost Rogan Kirsch welcomed the students to the campus, he commented, ‘My goal in life is to get the sort of applause that Sam Buck got.’  go sam go
  • Megan Whitacre (McAuley, Holy Cross) is the NSCL Editor.  It is her responsibility to get out the daily satirical newsletter called the ‘Convention Ear.’
  • Amy Elifrits (Lakota East) is the NJCL Creative Arts Chair and the National Committee Chair.  She is in charge of the performance arts – Latin Oratory, Costume, etc.  Amy is powerful, very powerful.
  • Melissa Burgess (Indian Hill) is the NJCL Graphic Arts Chair.  She oversees the judging of all the great art projects which the students create.  Melissa is also powerful, but less powerful than Amy, but probably equal to the power of the SCL.
  • Steve Gentle won the prestigious ‘Ed Phinney Book Award.’  It is his 26th NJCL convention, and he has served on the National Committee multiple times and was Chair of the 2008 NJCL Convention (along with Brian Compton of Moeller) at Miami University.  And – get this – Steve is not even a Latin teacher.  What’s up with that?   Well, Steve knows the importance of Latin and its legacy.  And he has a bunch of friends in NJCL, and they make him happy.

At this point, you might think:  ‘Golly, Mr. Dean, you sure are devoting loads of space to adults.  What about the kids?’  Well, there is no event without these adults.  Who take a week of their summer to chaperone the kids, to proctor the tests, to judge the projects, to solve world problems, to ride big buses, to stay in dorm rooms.  For free.  Are they crazy?  Perhaps/Probably.  Do they enjoy the kids?  Yes, most of the time.  Without these people, there is no national convention around which parents must schedule their family vacation, since many JCL’ers call this week the highlight of the year.  go latin-promoting adults go

OH power on NJCL stage: Dan, Amy, Melissa, Megan, Sam

My Latin teacher, Sue Robertson, is again serving as NJCL Advisor.  She is the trouble-shooter for all the complaints at convention and works with the university to solve them.  While addressing the teachers, Sue noted that her 1st convention was in Florida in 1977 and that the only convention she has missed since that time was for the birth of one of her own kids.  Now that’s dedication.

American Classical League President Peter Howard (Alabama) addressed the crowd in his best classical Latin yet southern accent, ‘Salvete, v’omnes!’  [The v’omnes is a contraction of vos omnes, the Latin equivalent of you all contracted down to y’all!]  I guess you had to be there because it was very funny.

The students had Contest Session I after dinner.  There are 4 in all, with 3-4 academic tests in each session.  Most students took Reading Comprehension, some took Latin Literature, and a chosen few endured the Hellenic History.  Here was Tom Carroll’s comment about the Reading Comprehension Test:  ‘I figured out that if I crossed my eyes the Latin words would get into an order where they actually made sense.’  And Tom had this to say about the Latin Literature test:  ‘Apparently, it was the job of the test writer to make JCL’ers cry.’  Tom is a senior and the veteran member of the OH Upper Level Certamen team.

Test Session #1: Adam, Jesse, and Smilin' Sameer

Certamen Orientation was also tonight.  More about the teams tomorrow when the competition begins.  And the Bad Larrys will again take up the buzzers in the fun but competitive World Series of Certamen on the last night of convention.   The players this year are:  Bad Larry, veteran player Bad Brian Compton, young-and-fresh-and-on-the-top-of-his-game Bad Chris Lapp, and – a pleasant surprise – Bad Kate Hattemer.  Kate has been called many things in the past:  CK, the hair-flipper, 2-time National Champion, 2-time WSOC Champion, and (most recently) traitorous Tarpeia.  But now the only way to describe her is Bad.

Students complained that the dance was lame.  Dan Garrett stood up and scolded the group:  ‘You get out of it what you put into it.’  Alex Evans then added:  ‘I had a good time.  I danced with Dan Garrett.’

The Dance!

There will be no ‘jumping’ at Wait Chapel, where the GA’s are held.  Before each GA, there is State Spirit time where everyone goes bonkers and cheers for their state.  Often, in the past at least, jumping is involved in this activity.  But check out the pictures, and you will see that Wait is a pretty cool place to have the GA’s and the test sessions, and the no jumping rule is justified.  Tullus asked the state officers during fellowship:  ‘Not to be funny or anything, but you can’t even hop?  Because we always hop during our Go Bananas cheer.’  The answer, my son, is no.

Wait Chapel: Home of GA's and Test Sessions

Lastly, here are the OJCL officers who run the fellowships and set the tone for the others. These students were elected in the spring, and their tenures run through next convention.

  • President Heather Smith (Shaker Heights)
  • 1st Vice-President Nick Grewal (Columbus Academy) – unable to attend
  • 2nd Vice-President  Alex Might (Granville)
  • Secretary Tino Delamerced (Summit)
  • Treasurer  Muhammad Patel (Lakota West)
  • Parliamentarian  Bobby McDonald (Columbus Academy)
  • Historian Becky Steffen (Westlake) – unable to attend
  • Editor, Regina Merrill (Summit) – unable to attend
  • NE Representative Narayan Sundararajan (Shaker Heights)
  • NW Representative Ryan Thaxton (Westlake)
  • Central Representative Will Emery (Granville)
  • SW Representative Lauren Salem (Ursuline)
Bobby, Lauren, Will, Tino, Ryan, Heather, Naryan, Bobby, Muhammad

A special non-classical treat for those who have made it to the end.