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State champion keeps the Classics alive

Haileybury student, Angela, is helping to keep the ancient study of Latin alive by becoming a state champion in the subject.

NEWS 12 Sept 2023

Haileybury student, Angela (Year 9), is helping to keep the ancient study of Latin alive by becoming a state champion in the subject.

Angela was one of around 80 students from 11 schools across Victoria who competed in an annual Latin Reading Competition organised by the Classical Association of Victoria. Year 11 student, Jaeden, also won a silver medal in the Year 12 age group.

During the event, students must accurately read Latin texts and are judged on their accuracy, fluency and expression. This year’s theme was ‘Ghosts’ with students reading Latin passages about ghosts, the underworld and witches.

Angela began studying Latin at the end of 2020 because she wanted to challenge herself to try something new.

“The best thing about Latin is that each word is like a jigsaw puzzle and you have to piece together a coherent translation”
Angela (Year 9)

“Through learning Latin, you also tour the Ancient world. For example, reading about a Roman election is one thing but translating actual propaganda carved on the walls in Rome is something very different. I’ve seen comments like ‘Vote for him. He bakes good bread!’ It has been a fascinating language to learn.

Jaeden began studying Latin in Year 8, partly inspired by an interest in Greco-Roman mythology since he was a young child.

“Latin seemed like a great way to immerse myself in that world plus I’ve developed new skills through translating, analysing poetry and learning Roman history”
Jaeden (Year 11)

"Latin has helped shape how I approach a lot of my other subjects – a lot of French grammatical concepts are similar to Latin, and when you translate Latin you follow a bunch of rules and structures which is similar to how you approach Maths. It has also helped me to understand Tamil, my native language, as a surprising amount of the grammatical structures are the same. So I’ve managed to get an insight into a completely different language through Latin" says Jaeden, who competed against students a year older than himself.

Haileybury Latin Teacher, Emily Gilbert, is passionate about Classical Studies and Latin and says she has ‘a dream job’.

“I love the logic of the language and reading works of literature that were written more than 2,000 years ago gives me a deep feeling of connection to that past. So often you find ancient voices in these works that would not be out of place in the modern world. It’s amazing to see that many of the ideas, worries and values from so long ago are still the same,” says Ms Gilbert.

Ms Gilbert says Haileybury students have a history of winning titles in the annual Classical Association of Victoria event and she has praised Angela and Jaeden’s success this year.

“Angela delivered a stand-out performance and Jaeden competed with students a year older than him in the fiercely competitive Year 12 group – a great achievement,” she says.