Stuyvesant Latin Club Wins at University of Pennsylvania Certamen

Latin Club novice team wins at UPenn Certamen.

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The Stuyvesant Latin Club competed at and won the UPenn Latin Certamen on March 18. Certamens consist of a Latin quiz-bowl game where students compete to demonstrate their knowledge in different classical fields. Four groups competed from Stuyvesant, including two novice and two intermediate groups. Novice Team A won the novice division of the Certamen, and the rest of the teams nearly reached the semifinals.

The victory required a lot of preparation, including the creation of study guides for the  different events. “We had these really loose study guides. We basically studied on our own because we were split between different topics,” junior and Intermediate Group A member Chloe Dong said. “I did language, [and] other people [competed in] myth and history. We’re grouped in groups of four but each person [had] a specialty.” The Latin Club also hosted mock Certamens and presented slideshows on topics.

To prepare for the competition, teams did significant amounts of studying, both individually and as a group. “There were a few Latin Club meetings where we would practice questions,” freshman and Novice Team A member Stella Anderson said. “[I] and two people from our team, three days before the competition, went to Whole Foods and staked out for several hours after school to study.”

Teams had to be created methodically to fully cover a wide range of topics, including language, history, and mythology. “[Latin teacher and Latin Club Faculty Advisor Lance] Tomas […] tries to organize teams based on skill set,” sophomore and Latin Club Co-President Dale Heller said. “My main [event] is definitely mythology so I was with a bunch of people who specialized in language and history.”

While the Stuyvesant team was confident in their abilities, they were nervous about the competition due to the number of impressive schools competing. “There were a lot of Connecticut schools. There was one [school], Harrington, that was really, really good last time [so] we were on the lookout for them. Hunter went and Townsend [Harris] went,” Heller said.

Teams had to complete three preliminary rounds before reaching the semifinals. While Novice Team A was the only advancing team, the other teams still had a strong performance. “[Novice Team A] got first place [in the novice division of the preliminary rounds] and the other Stuy team got second,” Anderson said. “Semi[final]s happened, and [Novice Team A] was the only team that advanced [but] pretty much all the teams were very close to advancing.”

In Certamens, teams have to buzz in before other teams to answer questions and rack up points. In the finals, Novice Team A won in a landslide. “[In the finals], all the questions were meant to be harder than in the previous rounds, and in the last question, we were more than 20 points ahead of the other team,” Anderson said. “Even though they got a full 20 points on the [last] question [...], we still knew we would beat them.” For their win, Novice Team A got medals and a copy of The Odyssey signed by the translator.

Overall, the Latin Club enjoyed its time at the Certamen. “Certamen’s really fun because you get to meet a lot of new people,” freshman and Novice Team A and Latin Club member Ting Ting Zhang said. “It feels kind of nerve-wracking at first, [but] then after a while, you get the hang of it.”

The Latin Club looks forward to participating and championing at future Certamens. “Certamens weren’t [originally] such a big part of the Stuy Latin department,” Heller said. “It’s really, really great that we’re starting up the Certamen thing again [...] It was just really, really fun to go do a dead language activity with a bunch of really smart and great kids.”