“It’s cool to say, ‘I take Latin’”

Posted on October 7th, 2008 by

…the New York Times confirms.  Latin enrollments are on the rise.  Read about it here.

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — The Latin class at Isaac E. Young Middle School here was reading a story the other day with a familiar ring: Boy annoys girl, girl scolds boy. Only in this version, the characters were named Sextus and Cornelia, and they argued in Latin.

“I can relate, but what the heck are they saying?” said Xavier Peña, a sixth grader who started studying Latin in September.

Enrollment in Latin classes here in this Westchester County suburb has increased by nearly one-third since 2006, to 187 of the district’s 10,500 students, and the two middle schools in town are starting an ancient-cultures club in which students will explore the lives of Romans, Greeks and others.

The resurgence of a language once rejected as outdated and irrelevant is reflected across the country as Latin is embraced by a new generation of students like Xavier who seek to increase SAT scores or stand out from their friends, or simply harbor a fascination for the ancient language after reading Harry Potter’s Latin-based chanting spells.

The number of students in the United States taking the National Latin Exam has risen steadily to more than 134,000 students in each of the past two years, from 124,000 in 2003 and 101,000 in 1998, with large increases in remote parts of the country like New Mexico, Alaska and Vermont. The number of students taking the Advanced Placement test in Latin, meanwhile, has nearly doubled over the past 10 years, to 8,654 in 2007. … Latin teachers have become more sought-after than ever.

Students like Ciera Gardner, a sophomore, started Latin three years ago with two friends who have since dropped out because of the workload. But Ciera, an aspiring actress, said that she had persisted because Latin would look good on her college applications and that in the meantime, it had already helped her decipher unfamiliar words while reading scripts. “It’s different,” she said. “Everyone says ‘I take Spanish’ or ‘I take Italian,’ but it’s cool to say ‘I take Latin.’ ”

 

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