Latin club gears up for Area


School is back in full swing and so is Latin Club. The 215 students involved are already getting ready to participate in Area F on Feb. 7-8 at Connally High School where Westlake will compete against other Austin-area Latin clubs.

Last year, Westlake set a record with 990 points in Certamen, more than doubling the previous record of 440, but this year, they’re aiming even higher.

“We’re hoping to go for the big M this year, which in Latin means 1000,” Latin teacher and club sponsor Alan Abbe said.

The students participate in Certamen where teams of four compete in a game-show style quiz over different aspects of Latin, and academic tests in subjects including mythology and Greek life and literature as well as art or music competitions. There are also athletic events that mimic the early Olympics such as frisbee and softball tosses.

Isaiah Apfel, club member and President of the Texas State Junior Classical League, the largest student-run organization in the world, said that his favorite part of these competitions is the relationship with his teammates.

“It’s a lot of fun getting to work together as a team,” Isaiah said. “We get to figure out when it’s someone else’s question or when someone else knows it. It’s one thing to do the written tests, but right in front of the buzzer, there’s an extra little adrenaline kick.”

Latin Club President Laura Bryant said that she prefers the individual tests at competitions.

“I love these events because it offers me a chance to shine,” Laura said. “Plus, you can prepare by having study groups with your friends and you meet a lot of new people in the testing rooms.”

If all goes well, the club will then advance to state on April 11-12. Last year the team was fourth in the state and Abbe said that he feels optimistic about this year.

“It all comes down to how much people want to invest in studying,” Abbe said. “We have all kinds of ways to prepare which gives us an advantage over other schools. We take it seriously because it helps with things like scholarship applications and so we try to get as many victories as we can. Not just for the school’s sake, but also for the individual’s sake too.”

Latin Club is involved in much more than just academic competitions, however. Every month, students help with a service project. The project for January is making bedding for cats and dogs in animal shelters; and, for February the club is making Valentines to send to troops stationed overseas.

“Latin Club is awesome in the way that we can reach out to so many people and help,” Isaiah said. “You wouldn’t think of a Latin Club as being so active it’s just one of those things that you wouldn’t expect from a dead language.”

When the school ends for the summer, most clubs have finished for the year, but Latin club just keeps going. Westlake will attend Nationals at Emory University in Georgia from July 28-Aug. 2.

“It’s like summer camp,” Abbe said. “and you wouldn’t think that Latin students would get crazy but they do.”