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Fall 2006 Volume 11, Issue 1


Myth Exam goes international in Australia /

Special Interest Articles: • Spotlight on Karyn Moon and Sydney Girls High School • Reports from ETC Grant recipients • 10 Questions with John Donahue • What I’ve Learned with Sandra Enscoe

Each year, Moon’s students eagerly await the results, and greet the international packet full of medals and certificates with special delight.


New Board Members 3 10 Questions

Australia’s school year begins in February. So, teacher Karyn Moon uses the new mythology topics to review elements of Latin learned in the previous school year. Iuppiter est deus; Iuno est dea. Io Iunonem non amat. cur? Sydney Girls is a selective or “exam” school, meaning that most of the girls are highly motivated. This is a good thing, since Moon’s students have to go far beyond the requirements of the state Latin syllabus to prepare for the NME.

Individual Highlights: Chair’s Remarks

The National Mythology Exam, produced by Excellence Through Classics (ETC), has become a treasured tradition at Sydney Girls High School. Students there, however, call it the International Mythology Exam.


Petrino Award


Calliope Award


The girls like to break records set by previous classes, and enjoy Magnum ice cream bars to celebrate awards above magna cum laude. One year, every girl in one class earned a medal. “I have found this friendly internal competition encourages relationships between grade levels. Our year 12 girls write welcome letters for the new year 7 girls, while the year 7s write letters of encouragement to the year 12s before their final state Latin exam,” says Moon. Sydney Girls’ focus on mythology does not end with the NME. The school has its own Malaxos Mythology Trophy Competition, established many years ago.

Teachers and students at Sydney Girls High School have a strong and long-standing commitment to Classics. Their achievements in both local and international contests are celebrated at an awards ceremony each December.

Students in years 8-10 who achieve exceptional results on the NME are invited to submit an essay for the competition. Topics in previous years have asked students to explore the relationships between mythology and advertising, musical productions, paintings, sculpture, films, plays and novels. The topic for 2006 was “Why do modern poets take inspiration from classical mythology?” “Knowing how motivating the Mythology Exam is, we leapt at the opportunity offered to our youngest group by the newer Exploratory Latin Exam,” Moon notes. The ELE requires Moon’s students to work beyond the state Latin syllabus for their level, and the girls find creative ways to work independently with this extra material. The girls achieve excellent results, and their extra research makes them formidable team members in their state certamen contest. Story continues on page 2

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Sydney Girls High School commitment to Classics goes beyond exams co nt i nue d fro m P age 1 While the Mythology Exam and the Exploratory Latin Exam are two important features of Moon’s curriculum, the commitment to Classics at Sydney Girls extends even further. Statewide activities in New South Wales include Classics Camp for year 8 students, reading competitions for years 9-11, and a Classics Dinner for students in years 11-12.

Each December, at the end of the school year, Sydney Girls holds an awards ceremony to honor the students’ many accomplishments, including those for the international exams. One of Moon’s students sums things up well when she states, “It’s cool being part of a subject that gives awards to kids from all around the world, isn’t it?”

Particular to Sydney Girls High School are the “Spirit of Virgil” competition, for year 7 students, and the “Sound of Virgil” competition, aimed at older girls. Girls in years 8, 10, and 11 compete for the Commitment to Classics prize. Moon’s students in years 9-11 are also eligible to attend the school’s Classics Tour. Past destinations have included Italy, Greece, Spain, and England. “For many girls, our Classics Tour is the highlight of their school studies of the classical world,” explains Moon.

Moon’s year 8 students show off their enthusiasm at Classics Camp.

Let your cat teach your kids Latin – with a little help from LATIN LIVES! By Kay Rodabaugh Reyes Author of LATIN LIVES! With my daughter’s time taken up by her graduate studies, and my son transferred out of town, my newly-acquired kitten Schoolhouse was my sole companion for most of the day. One day it struck me: Why not relieve the long hours of working on my book by speaking to him in Latin? During my son’s first visit back home, he noticed that Schoolhouse did not budge when told to come. He then resorted to Latin: ubi est Schoolhouse? Schoolhouse immediately appeared. Now, my son has even asked me to teach him Latin! If my grown children have taken an interest in Latin through our cat, just think how much more excitedly younger children will want to speak to the cat in Latin, too. Once you’ve got them hooked, you can start them on the LATIN LIVES! total immersion curriculum.

LATIN LIVES! is a teachers’ manual and lesson plan book containing a year’s worth of lively total immersion Latin lessons. Visuals, pantomime, songs, and games are widely used. LATIN LIVES!, along with its companion materials, has been successfully used th for grades pre-K through 5 in an award-winning program. It can also be useful for encouraging the use of oral Latin at any age level. LATIN LIVES! contains 54 lesson plans, a pronunciation guide, a “How to Use This Book” section, a glossary of useful classroom expressions, and a full glossary in the back. Each Latin word or phrase has been carefully researched to ensure accuracy. This is very important, as I have noticed that terms are often incorrectly translated. For more information, contact .

“If my grown children have taken an interest in Latin through our cat, just think how much more excitedly younger children will want to speak Latin!”


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Greetings from ETC Chair Zee Ann Poerio Quod donum maius reipublicae offerre possumus, quam adulescentes docere et instruere? What greater gift can we offer the republic than to teach and to instruct our youth? - Cicero As educators we know that teaching is a gift, but I have found the perfect gift: introducing elementary and middle school students to Latin.

ETC Chair Zee Ann Poerio has a B.A. from Washington and Jefferson College and is certified in Art Education and Elementary Education.

“I read about the benefits of studying Latin, and wanted to encourage my students to choose Latin when they had the opportunities in high school and college.”

I have the pleasure of serving as the new Chair of ETC, but must tell you that I am not a trained Latinist. I tell everyone my Classics background comes from my heritage. I am 100% Italian. I am a third grade teacher at St. Louise de Marillac School in Pittsburgh, PA. I read about the many benefits of studying Latin, and wanted to encourage my students to choose Latin when they had the opportunities in high school and college. Through the Internet, I found the text Minimus, by Barbara Bell, and learned that teachers without Latin background were using it successfully in England. The parents and grandparents of students

in my third grade class were so excited about the prospect of having Latin in the school that they provided funding for the textbooks, Latin dictionaries, and props. A lunchtime Latin group formed, and then a Latin club, which has been going strong for three years. I now have students earning recognition for their performance on the Exploratory Latin Exam. I also discovered that using ancient coins helped bring Latin to life, because they gave students a tangible link to the past. I began working with Ancient Coins for Education and, with the support of numismatists across the country, an ancient coin museum was started. Think of me as one of your Ambassadors for Latin. My goal is to inspire children to love the ancient civilizations. This is possible in the traditional Latin classroom, but consider the possibility of reaching so many more through collaboration with other disciplines. Let’s share Cicero’s “gift” of educating our youth as we work together. Gratias, Zee Ann Poerio

What’s new with ETC and prima ETC welcomes new Board Members Micheal Posey (Vice-Chair), Jacque Myers ( prima Editor), Courtney Holman (ELE Chair), and Zee Ann Poerio (Chair).

There are so many great things going on at ETC – the Exploratory Latin Exam, the National Mythology Exam, prima, this year’s T-shirt design contest. The dynamic Zee Ann Poerio takes the reins as the new Chair of ETC. Micheal Posey, formerly Editor of prima, will now assume the role of ETC Vice-Chair. And we welcome Courtney Holman as the new Chair of the Exploratory Latin Exam. It is most exciting to welcome these dedicated individuals to their new roles at ETC. At the same time, however, I would like to thank Doug Bunch and Matt Webb for their excellent service as Exploratory

Latin Exam respectively.





I am also pleased to be serving ETC in a new capacity this year, as Editor of prima. I look forward to sharing your ideas and experiences, and invite you to submit an article to prima. Please visit us on




Wishing you an exciting and productive school year, Jacque Myers Prima Editor and ETC Webmistress


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10 Questions with John Donahue of Forum Romanum In this issue, prima’s “10 Questions” series continues with John Donahue.

the classroom? least?

Best known to Latin teachers for his role as Marcus Favonius in the Forum Romanum video series, Donahue is also a former Latin teacher.

I miss the classroom often. Teaching was fun – helping others to learn is rewarding. We laughed a lot in my classes. I miss that. I had good students; I think a lot of Latin teachers have good students, in aptitude and attitude.

prima: How has the study and teaching of Classics served you in your present occupation? Did Classics play a role in what you do today? My present occupation is Director of Employee Development for a government services firm based in Reston, VA. Business training does differ from general education, but the background in teaching Latin has served me very well in my current career. I think teaching is good preparation for a lot of business careers – you learn public speaking, how to lead a group, how to prepare well, how to work hard, etc.

What do you miss

What I least miss is having to grade papers and get up when it was still dark. prima: Ever get the urge to throw on a toga and speak Latin? I get the urge to speak Latin a lot more frequently than the urge to throw on a toga. Those things are heavy and uncomfortable! I do like to speak Latin, but it’s not always easy to find opportunities. My wife has her Ph.D. in Classics, so I’m luckier than most.

I think the study of Latin has helped me in more ways than you can name. There are the direct benefits of language (learning Latin, being able to learn modern languages more quickly), vocabulary, grammar, ancient history, culture, etc.

prima: You are widely known as Favonius from the Forum Romanum series. Were you recruited for this position, or did you volunteer? Any anecdotes from filming? How did you memorize all those lines in Latin?!

But the indirect benefits are even more important in terms of "training your mind" through memorizing the core elements (declensions, conjugations, stems, rules of syntax) and then applying that knowledge and those rules to problem solving and pattern recognition in translation, both from Latin to English and especially from English to Latin. That for me has been the greatest benefit.

Yes, I was Favonius. I’m a lot more proud of having written the Latin scripts for the shows than having been in front of the camera.

In my experience, there is a big market out there for those who can be analytical yet humanistic, and those who can just think in a more structured way. The ability to think, speak well, and learn multiple languages is very valuable, both personally and professionally. prima: What do you miss most about

John Donahue a former Latin teacher wrote the scripts for the well-known Forum Romanum video series.

I think I was recruited for the most part, convinced by Jane Hall and Marty Abbott that I should not just write the shows, but be the host/news anchor. There were a lot of funny things that happened during filming. Of course you have all the outtakes and bloopers. One of the funniest things happened between the first and second “season” of filming. Amy High, who played Julia Pauli, made herself a beautiful green stola. But the Story continues on page 5

“I think the study of Latin has helped me in more ways than you can name.”

PRIMA “I’d suggest in getting started [with speaking Latin] that you pepper your English with Latin expressions.”

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Conti nued f ro m page 4 studio had changed its blue screen background to a green screen. So, when Amy went onto the set in her nice new green stola, all you could see were her head and hands floating in air.

teleprompter. That someone wasn’t a Latinist, so there’d be all kinds of typos and misspellings. Then when we were shooting I would be reading “Besubius” instead of “Vesuvius,” and just have to roll with it.

Actually, we used teleprompters, so I didn’t have to memorize any of it. But I did have to read it, which is why I had glasses in a couple of episodes until I got contacts.

prima: Many teachers and students shy away from using Latin orally because of their lack of exposure. Any pointers for Latin beginners?

The other challenge with the teleprompter was that I’d give the script to someone at the studio to type quickly into the

As far as pointers for beginners: “Well begun is half done,” and “Just do it.” One problem with us Latinists is that we

don’t like to make mistakes. But when do you ever learn to converse in a language without making mistakes?

probably knows it all. I'd say almost nobody knows that I speak Latin, play bluegrass guitar, and hate to eat off paper plates.

I’d suggest in getting started that you pepper your English with Latin expressions and just keep adding in more Latin in place of English. There are a lot of classroom expressions, and dayto-day expressions, that we say over and over. Why not say them in Latin?

prima: What is the last book you read? Any thoughts on it?

prima: Can you tell us something that nobody knows about you?

I loved the book and thought it was not only a great story but a great treatment on leadership.

Well, I'm married so now there's nothing that nobody knows because my wife

Hazel, the Chief Rabbit in the story, is one of my heroes now.

The last book I read was Watership Down, the one about the rabbits. I'm on this kick now to read the books I should have read (or did read, but didn't pay attention to) when I was younger.

I also thought much of it reminded me of the Odyssey, only here the leader tries to get everyone home, and not just himself.

“Watership Down...reminded me of the Odyssey, only here the leader tries to get everyone home, not just himself.”

prima: What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment? Sounds sappy, but the accomplishment I'm most proud of is "winning" my wife Karen Edwards Donohue.

There are a lot of classroom expressions, and day-to-day expressions, that we say over and over. Why not say them in Latin?”

I hope it's obvious why I'd invite Jesus: just to see him, hear his voice, touch his hand, pass him the salt. For Julius Caesar and Thomas Jefferson, to hear their thoughts and the stories they'd tell. prima: What would you do if you were president? I would go to my high school reunion and say, “How do you like me now?”

prima: If you could invite three people – living or dead – to dinner, who would they be? Why?

At vero, eundum est mihi. Cura, ergo, ut valeas!

Jesus, Julius Jefferson.

John Donahue a.k.a. Marcus Favonius




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A first-year teacher finds herself “scrolling” for ideas By Kathy Conklin John Paul II High School Plano, TX As a beginning teacher at a brand new school last year, my resources for enriching and creative Latin projects were limited. I wanted my students to enjoy the benefits of hands-on learning, and encouraged them to suggest projects they would like to explore. After completing an activity on scrolls in the Cambridge Latin Course workbook, one of my Latin I students asked if she could make a scroll for extra credit. One of my rules is that students are not allowed to ask for extra credit: they earn it, or I offer it. This question, however, prompted other students to ask “Can we do it for a grade? a test grade?!” After some discussion, the class and I

decided on the directions for the project. The scrolls were to be hand-written on unlined paper, with all capital letters and no spaces between words. The content was to be a breviarium (Latin summary) of any story from the textbook. A week later, as the students came to school to drop off their projects, I was amazed at the ingenuity of many of my students.

“I wanted my students to enjoy the benefits of hands-on learning, and encouraged them to suggest projects they would like to explore.”

Scrolls had been soaked in tea, coffee, and soy sauce; burned, torn, and baked. The students used anything from butcher paper to computer paper, glued together to create the length needed. Although not all of my students wrote great breviaria, their creativity and interest in learning outweighed their mistakes. I plan on repeating this project in future classes, and will continue to ask my students for suggestions on projects and activities.

Highlighting for success: How to teach the Iliad for the NME By Cheryl Ryan Lylburn Downing Middle School Lexington, VA I use a pedagogy that enables middle school students to assimilate a book of the Iliad very well. First, I pass out a short synopsis of the book indicated on the syllabus for the year, and a study sheet of the main characters. Then students use highlighters to colorcode the main characters’ lines of dialogue. I also have students label at the side the name of the person speaking. This takes time, but is well worth the effort. While the students find the appropriate dialogue to color-code, they necessarily become better acquainted with each character’s lines. When the process is completed, I assign

each student a different character, and also assign readers for the narrative sections. I often have a little contest among my classes to discover which class reads the book most quickly. The next step in my pedagogy is to place daily puzzles on the board in order to acquaint students with each of the main characters. E.g., “A_H_L_E_ = the son of Peleus, called “Pelion.” Then I progress to identifying the speaker: “T_ET_S = ‘Then I must lose you soon, my child, by what you are saying, since it is decreed your death must come soon after Hektor’s.’” By the time the National Mythology Exam is given, students know the characters and dialogs well, and they fully comprehend the action. Using this approach, slightly fewer than half of my students score over 90% on the exam in most years.

“Using this approach, slightly fewer than half of my students score over 90% on the exam in most years.”

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Theatre production of classical myths sparks curriculum change Irene Hall, a teacher and co-leader at the Discovery Charter School in Newark, NJ used her ETC grant to subsidize the purchase of theater tickets for her students to see “Myths of Ancient Greece.” “Because of the grant, we implemented a curriculum unit on the culture of ancient Greece and the myths. The children read, wrote, and created beautiful drawings from their lessons and their imaginations,” Hall wrote. One of Hall’s students remarked, “Reading and watching the play on the Greek myths were both good.”

curiosity made Pandora wonder what was in the great-looking box. Pandora opened the chest and out came evil sparks like greed and jealously. But the box also contained hope. Once, my friend’s uncle got in a car accident but was not seriously injured because he prayed for hope. I like this myth because if I never read this myth I would not know where hope came from,” he finished. “Going to the theater as a culminating experience of the curriculum unit was such a joy and so fantastic for our children,” Hall concluded

These are several artistic renderings from Hall’s students. These drawings were created after the students’ visit to the theatre. Hall has seen great results after implementing a classically-inspired curriculum.

“I liked reading the story of the Greek Myths because when I read the stories, I could make up my own play and dress people how I wanted to in my mind. When I was watching the play I understood better how the story went because of the live actions,” the student relayed. “Although there are many myths, the myth th “Pandora’s Box” is my favorite, said one 6 grader. “Zeus warned elegant Pandora not to open the dangerous box. However, the gift of

“My favorite of all the myths was the one about Rhea when she hid Zeus after his birth. I liked the part of how Cronus was tricked into swallowing a stone. I am glad we read the book first before seeing the play because when you are reading the book, you have to imagine how that part went. When watching the play it shows you and tells you what happened. Myths are great. They give you ideas to think about”. th 6 grader .


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Masters introduces Latin middle school exploratory class Kristin Masters was hired by Pittsgrove Township School District to start a middle school exploratory Latin program for 5th and 6th graders. Not only has she been able to teach the basics of the Latin language and Roman culture to her students, but she was also able to use her program to reinforce the language arts and mathematics skills that students need for national and state testing.

Kristin A. Masters Latin Teacher Pittsgrove Township School District Pittsgrove, New Jersey

To practice for the creative writing section of the Grade Eight Proficiency Assessment test (GEPA), Masters gives students classical mythology-based picture prompts. She selects pictures of mythological figures from classical and Renaissance art and have students answer leading questions to help them develop their ideas. Students use the answers to these questions to create their stories. The next day students volunteer to read their stories aloud, and the class discusses the successful storytelling elements that each author used. Afterwards they learn about the GrecoRoman myth depicted in the story, and they compare this version of the myth with their

own. By using these creative writing picture prompts, students are able to practice the skills necessary to pass the GEPA test. Students also practice their mathematical skills for the GEPA in my class during my unit on Roman numerals. Students reinforce basic math concepts by solving greater than / less than problems, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems, as well as word problems in Roman numerals. Particularly fun activities for this unit include human number lines and human math problems; students love to “become” a Roman numeral and move about the classroom to fit into living math problems. Masters’ students also enjoy Roman numeral Sudoku puzzles; the Sudoku fad is very popular among her middle school students, and Master’s notes that Sudokus provide great practice for both Roman numerals and logic. Masters is delighted that her students are able to not only gain knowledge of the Latin language and the ancient world, but also able to practice and reinforce skills essential to pass state and national tests.

Minimus author Bell attends, presents at ACL 2006 PHONE: 513.529.7741 FAX: 513.529.7742 WEB: Executive Committee Zee Ann Poerio, Chair Matt Webb, Immediate Past Chair Micheal Posey, Vice-Chair Vivian Klein, Secretary Diana Nixon, Myth Exam Chair Courtney Holman, ELE Chair Lucy Martin, Graphics Specialist Kris Tracy, Activity Packet Editor Jacque Myers, Webmistress/prima Editor Geri Dutra, Administrative Secretary

By Barbara Bell Author of Miniumus From my point of view, this year’s ACL in Philadelphia was a particularly profitable conference, and Minimus was high profile. I shared a joint presentation, “Expanding the Empire,” with Zee Ann Poerio. We shared ideas for promoting Classics. The future of our subject faces the same problems here: combating ignorance and prejudice amongst principals, colleagues, parents, and pupils; delivering the subject in an increasingly limited time; recruiting enough teachers and enough pupils.

drama or music before they took Latin, and she has truly enriched their lives. Among many highlights in this onehour lesson is my memory of young Derrick dressed as a Roman centurion. Wearing a replica helmet, courtesy of Zee Ann, he barked out imperatives to his fellow students. On Sunday yet another dynamic Minimus teacher, Chris Ann Matteo, shared how she started a Minimus class in an elementary school at the request of her own 7-year-old daughter. It is a great privilege to be part of the American Classics scene.

Zee has amazing passion and energy. She shared with the delegates how she got started using Minimus, and then the splendid work she has done with Ancient Coins for Education. She showed that Latin is a truly cross-curricular subject. On Saturday, I worked with children from Dunbar School, who have been inspired in by the dynamic Gloria Endres. She is particularly keen to enhance their experience of arts subjects and, since beginning to use Minimus, she has translated several fairy tales into Latin. The students at Dunbar School have performed these very successfully. Many of Endres’ students had done little

The American Classical League Excellence Through Classics for Elementary and Middle Levels Miami University 422 Wells Mill Drive Oxford, OH 45056

Learn more about Minimus online at


PRIMA-Fall 2006  
PRIMA-Fall 2006  

Newsletter sponsored by Excellence Through Classics (ETC), a standing organization of the American Classical League (ACL).