Latin: Upperclassman only


Courtesy photo from Erin Robbins' wedding

Magistra with the language department

Ben Lombardi, Staff Writer

As many students know, at Hollis Brookline High School, Latin is only available to juniors and seniors. But why is this? There is actually quite the story behind the Latin program itself.


It all started twelve years ago, in the fall of 2004. Parents had been pestering the school board to get a Latin program in the school for ten years and they were starting to really make a statement.  The most vocal parents had kids that were either juniors or seniors so, to please these very vocal parents, the school board proposed a plan to get a Latin program available for juniors and seniors.


The problem with this was that the school board did not want to fund the program. The principal at the time then decided to take the subject to a town hall meeting, where he over-ruled the school board and took matters into his own hands. At that meeting he was able to acquire around five thousand dollars to start the program with Lara Evans, or as everybody calls her Magistra, as the teacher of the program. Magistra’s nickname derives from the Latin word, teacher. She is still the latin teacher here at HBHS and does it with the most distinct personality that no one else could replace.


The school board had not anticipated how wildly popular Latin would be. There has been a wait list to get into Latin class, both Latin I and II every year. This year was the first year since the program started that there had not been a waiting list. The program would probably be even more popular if it was available for all students at HBHS.


In a recent conversation with sophomore Ryan Olson, he told the CavChronLINE that even though he doesn’t plan on taking Latin as a junior or senior, he stated, “Yes, if Latin was available for freshmen and sophomores, I would have taken it.”


Not only do underclassmen want it, but some of the more scholarly upperclassmen of HBHS would have loved Latin to be available earlier. Jack Barbour ‘16 and Peter Bertone ‘16 both strongly agree that they would have loved to have taken Latin class freshmen and sophomore year. Barbour told of how if he did so, he would have continued up to the hypothetical Latin four. Also he explained how if he was able to, it would have helped him pursue his career in the medical field.


The National Council of State Supervisors for languages or NCSSFL, talks about how there are many benefits to taking Latin. Once regarded as a subject for college-bound students, Latin has played an important role in helping to develop literacy skills and English vocabulary skills for students at all levels. Along with this, by using the study of Latin, students can build a solid base for the subsequent study of Romance languages such as Spanish, French, and Italian.


So not only does Latin help in other foreign language classes, but Latin can help within the English department of the school. It teaches a lot of english grammar and if the English department doesn’t have to teach this to their students as much, they can focus on sharpening the actual writing and reading skills of the students.


The main reason that HBHS doesn’t have Latin available for freshmen and sophomores is a simple answer. It comes down to the fact that one teacher is only allowed to teach five classes, and currently Magistra already has that many. So therefore, in order to have more Latin classes we would need to have more teachers, and as of now  there is not enough space in the foreign language wing for that. Unfortunately, unless we expand the school itself a bit, it looks like Latin will have to stay as it is– juniors and seniors only.