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April 17, 2007

Stuck in Vermont 19: Latin Day

Latin_day_2 The 31st Annual Vermont Latin Day was held at UVM's Patrick Gym on Friday the 13th, also known as The Ides of April to the ancient Romans. 

Did you know that the Ides is approximately mid-month and that Romans kept track of their schedules by referencing either the Ides (13th or 15th day of the month), Nones (5th or 7th day of the month) or Kalends (1st day of the month)?  Just one of the many tid bits I learned at Latin Day!

Hundreds of excited spear-carrying, toga-clad Vermont high school students converged Friday to celebrate Latin Day, test their trivia, perform skits, compete for prizes, and revel in their love of ancient history. 

Is Latin a dead language?  Hard to believe after this whirlwind event - you be the judge. 

Latin_day_5 To quote a particularly self-possessed scholar, "It's just one of the only places I feel like I can truly fit in."

Skits entitled and performed by:

1) Bellows Free Academy, St. Albans – Joshua Knox
Famous Romans at Their Villas

2) Burlington High School – Noralee Cartier
Athenian Idol ( = Athena's and Poseidon's contest over patronage of Athens)

3) CVU – Leanne Morton
Even Shepherds Get the Blues (= parody of Latin pastoral poetry)

4) Essex High School – Anne Broussard
Waiting for Zeus: An Existential Tragi-comedy in 1 and 1/2 Acts (parody
of Beckett)

5) Hanover High School - Don Buck and Brian Glenny
Demeter and Persephone

6) Harwood Union High School – Ben Eldredge
Cadmus and the Dragon’s Teeth

7) Lamoille Union High School – Meghan Holland
The Man Who Ate Himself (= myth of Erysichthon)

Latin_day_4 8) Lyndon Institute – Becky Sahlin
Keepin’ It Rural: Horace’s Fable of the Country Mouse and City Mouse

9) Mt. Abe – Karl Ritval
Project Big Belly (= Hesiod's story of Kronos eating his children)

10) Mt. Mansfield High School – Bob Slayton
The Green Acres of Cincinnatus (= a farmer-statesman comes back to save
the Republic)

11) Montpelier High School – Mary Redmond
Narcissus and Echo

12) Riverside School – Jean Luc Gauville
Triptolemus (= myth about the gift of agriculture to humans)

13) Spaulding High School – Kristie LeBlanc
Pirates of the Mediterranean (= Bacchus captured by pirates)

Tell No One's (MySpace) fitting sing, "A Knife My Romans" off their new album, Just Breath and Resist.

And did I mention that I am still smiling, days after Latin Day took place?  If these high-energy kids are the future, then I think we will do ok.  In a way, this vlog goes hand in hand with the Step It Up vlog.  As paranoid as one can get about the future of our planet, intelligent, hard working students like these give me hope for a better tomorrow.


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i never even had the option to take latin at my teeny little high school. who knew it could be so much fun? cool expo eva! thanks!


I agree: Latin nerds give me hope for the future.

Our cat, Victor, gets very upset when my boyfriend speaks Latin. I've gotta get video of this phenomenon some day....

Fausta Aurelia Perspiciens

I'm a 9th grader who attended Latin Day from Essex High. Latin is the most amazing language ever and it's so sad that people think it's dead. It's great to have Latin Day because Latin is becoming less popular now and EHS and a few other schools are starting to cancel Latin 3/4, which is extremely depressing. I really enjoyed Latin Day.

Joshua Knox is the best teacher EVER!!!
(Fausta Aurelia Perspiciens is actually my Latin name:)


Excellent vlog! As an alum from MMU, and a once-upon-a-time UVM Latin student, I can say that Latin Day is one of the more special events in Vermont that no one's heard about.

I've had few teachers/professors who have been as passionate about their subject matter (and literature, and history, and philosophy . . . which are, after all, what learning the language is all about) as my latin profs. Bob Slayton (at MMU), Jacques Baily, Phil Ambrose, Robert and Barbara Rodgers, Brian Walsh, and Mark Usher.

Salve Omnes!


Hah. I was wondering why you chose that Tell No One song, but then I remembered the title.

Magister Ludorum

I post here, with permission, the whole of Will Stevens' inspiring welcoming remarks on ancient and modern agriculture, in case student or teachers are interested in revisiting them. (Will Stevens is an organic vegetable farmer and freshman member of the House Ag Committee.)

Welcome to the Latin Day Celebration! I am thrilled to be here. I understand that you are eager to get going, but I have to fulfill my duty as a politician and say a few words, and I would appreciate it if you could pretend that they are meaningful and important.

Let me start by congratulating you all for bringing such life to a dead language! I admire you for following your heart and studying something that actually interests you – I happen to believe that learning for learning’s sake is a good thing. You do understand that this is NOT normal, nor often encouraged . . . . I hope you keep it up as long as possible – we need more of this sort of thing!

Today you’re here to celebrate ancient Agriculture, and I suspect that I’ve been asked to speak to you because I am an ancient agriculturalist – my wife and I have been growing vegetables commercially since 1981, which makes this our 26th season. It’s hard to believe . . . when we started out, we hired young people like ourselves to help us out – now we’re hiring their children . . . . Scary. To some extent we have followed our hearts, and are living out our dream by providing something of value to people.

I also want to share that I am living proof that higher education can pay off. It took me seven years, in and out of two colleges, traveling around the country, and working at a variety of odd jobs, but I did finally graduate from UVM in 1980 with a degree in Studio Art, and I stand before you today as an example that education should not get in the way of learning. My Studio Art degree has not disqualified me from farming or from running for political office.

I got myself elected to the Vermont legislature last November in the Addison-Rutland-1 district, which covers the towns of Benson, Orwell, Shoreham, and Whiting. I am on the House Agriculture committee, which has eleven members. Sadly, there are only three of us who are currently involved in farming! Is this evidence of Vermont’s decline?

Some of you may know that the golden dome of the State House is crowned by a statue of Ceres, the Goddess of Agriculture. I pay tribute to her every day, whether at home or in Montpelier. In the old days, the length of the session was in part determined by the farmer-legislator’s desire to get home for sugaring or spring chores. Nowadays, the number of lawyers is greater than the number of farmers, which makes some of us nervous, especially when it comes to adjournment!

I am not a big student of Roman agriculture, but I see two parallels with their agricultural history and ours in America – the first is that with the rise of the middle class, more value was assigned to consumption and leisure activities, and less was given to production (work) – especially production of food. The second parallel grew out of the first, which is to say that as the social value, or standing, of the food producers – the farmers – diminished, the need for replacement workers increased. Enter the foreign work force! Think about it . . . . This could lead to a whole lecture about food and politics, but fortunately for you I haven’t been given that kind of time.

Let me just bring it around and ask you to consider that as an act of defiance and political independence, which can also serve to help the future of agriculture in Vermont, this summer you grow your own food, or if you can’t do that, buy it as directly from a farmer as possible – at a Farmers’ Market, at a farm stand, or at a store that promotes local agriculture. And for those of you who are lucky enough get the chance to work on a farm, do it. It will be an experience you will never forget, and the benefits will be far-reaching and long-lasting.

In closing, let me just share one of the few Latin phrases I know: “Non Sibi” – “Not for One’s Self,” or put another way, “For Others.” That is what we farmers do; we provide for others. And as both a farmer and as a politician, I serve others. In closing, I’d like to ask you, as you follow your dreams and life’s paths to think of that – Non Sibi – to act not for self, but for all.

Have fun today, and thank you, my fellow citizens, so much for lending me your ears this morning . . . .


I just wanted everyone to ponder the fact that Essex High got 3 blue ribbons (out of 3), but MMU got the large silver bowl when they only got 2 blue ribbons and 1 red...


Thanks Magister Ludorum for posting Will Stevens' most excellent opening remarks. And thanks to the HS students for taking the time to comment! I hope Latin lives on in VT high schools for a long time to come.

Ars longa, vita brevis - Art (work) is long, but life is short

Interesting point Ariel...but remember, Ars gratia artis (Art for art's sake), and your skit was much appreciated even though it did not win any silver bowls.

Ave atque vale


In response to the comment about Essex getting 3 blue ribbons, MMU getting 2 blue and a red:

The overall winner of Latin Day is judged based upon individual projects, an original skit, and a latin II Quiz Bowl. So, MMU did rightfully win for the 8th year in a row and I think you should do your homework before next spring.


Love it, Eva! Great balance of humor and respect for the Latin nerds. I'm going to wear a toga to work every Ides from now on.


I'm not saying that Essex should have won, I'm saying that it's interesting that they didn't get all blues.

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