It has been a mild, mellow year in the Northern Plains. For providing much of the news included in this report, I am grateful to Vicky Pagan (Wisconsin), Dennis Rayl (Minnesota), Judith Sebesta (South Dakota), and David Volk (North Dakota).
On March 10-11, 2000, at Fargo North High School, 130 students from Bismarck, Grand Forks, and Fargo participated in the state convention of the North Dakota Junior Classical League. According to David Volk, who is not just the CAMWS V-P for North Dakota but also the guiding force behind the NDJCL, the meeting was a great success. Next year's convention is tentatively scheduled for March 23-24 in Grand Forks. During National Latin Week in April, different schools will be engaged in different celebratory events such as donning togas, giving gifts to Latin teachers (e.g., pencils inscribed with a Latin quotation in praise of teachers), and wearing Latin quotations. As usual, Latin students from North Dakota will be attending Concordia College's annual Latin Days on May 11-12.
Judith Sebesta reports that Latin continues to be taught in Sioux Falls and Pierre, South Dakota. The individual who has, from time to time, taught Latin in Yankton will retire in the next two years; his position--if it continues as a position--will be hard to fill because, says Judy, "Yankton is a small town, and SD is 50th in rank of teacher pay (on the wrong end of the rank!)."
Vicky Pagan, in her first year as CAMWS V-P for Wisconsin, has energetically sent out a survey, due back on April 1, to acquire data on Latin teaching in K-12 schools. The annual convention of the thriving Wisconsin JCL was held on Jan. 28-29 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with two dozen rounds of certamen. The 44 students of Madison West High School collectively won first-place honors in certamen, art, sculpture, grammar, and mythology. Approximately seven Wisconsin Latin teachers are planning to attend the ACL Institute at Indiana University, June 29-July 1.
The 1999 meeting of the Wisconsin Latin Teachers Association (WLTA) took place on Nov. 5 at the Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Association of Foreign Language Teachers. Among the topics of discussion was the possibility of a statewide Latin day. Guidelines and topics for this year's Fannie LeMoine Writing Contest were distributed: all entries are due to WLTA President Joyce Cupertino by Mar. 1; Fred Dobke and Amy Petersen are serving as chairs of the essay committee and reading the entries in all three levels of the contest. On Apr. 3 at Homestead High School, Odds Bodkin will perform The Odyssey. Elyce Moschella of Brookfield Central High School has organized this WLTA-sponsored event.
The University of Wisconsin at Madison is a hotbed of ancient activity: guest lecturers last fall included Ian Morris, André Lardinois, and David West Reynolds; talks by Lanny Bell, A. Trevor Hodge, and Sharon Herbert were sponsored by the local AIA; Edson Lectures were delivered by Erich Gruen and Sarah Johnson. Martha Nussbaum gave the inaugural lecture at the UW Humanities Center on Mar. 8. The annual meeting of the Association of Ancient Historians will be held at UW on May 4-7, with panels on rhetoric and law, periodization, and slaves, tenants, and clients, along with a commemoration of W. L. Westermann, UW Professor, 1908-20.
Barbara Hughes Fowler, John Bascom Professor Emeritus of Classics at UW, died on Feb. 10, 2000. During her tenure at the university, she published numerous scholarly articles and books on Greek poetry and tragedy and was herself a published poet. She served on more than twenty campus committees and chaired many of them. After her retirement in 1991, she devoted herself to translating ancient Egyptian, medieval Irish, and medieval Portuguese poetry.
The Classical Association of Minnesota (CAM) met for its annual meeting on October 23, 1999, at Macalester College in St. Paul. Patient paperwork by President Steve Reece had led to CAM's obtaining a $1000 Humanities Organization Network grant (renewable yearly) from the Minnesota Humanities Commission. Keynote speaker was Peter Green, Adjunct Professor of Classics at the University of Iowa, on "War and Morality in Fifth Century Athens: The Case of Euripides' Trojan Women." (Prof. Green also spoke at St. Olaf College and at the University of Minnesota during his visit. UM now regularly offers to "share" its guest speakers; e.g., Jeffrey Henderson from Boston University lectured at Carleton College on Feb. 17, at UM the next day.) CAM's Latin Teaching Award for 1999 was bestowed upon Jinny Jensen of Edina High School, to the cheers of all. In the afternoon three panelists (Mary Preus, Kristina Chew, Jeremiah Reedy) discussed "Teaching the Classics in Multicultural Environments" from their own perspectives. Delectable food donated by a local Greek restaurant brought the meeting to a sweet conclusion.
On Nov. 20 Minnesota's semi-annual Latin Bowl was held at Trinity School-River Ridge with teams from Trinity, Minnehaha Academy, and Schaeffer Academy. This spring St. Olaf College is experimenting with two new contests for middle-school and high-school Latin students in Minnesota. Monetary prizes have been provided through the generosity of CPL. Each school is allowed to submit up to two entries per contest; teachers may hold a local competition, if they wish, to determine which entries to submit. The Latin Advertisement Contest (individual or group entries) requires creating an advertisement for an ancient or a modern product; any kind of two-dimensional artwork is acceptable. All words in the ad must be in Latin. Criteria for judging are correct use of Latin, artistic quality, and creativity. The Latin Composition Contest (individual or group entries) requires the composition of a skit (maximum of 2 pages, typed) based on a Greek or Roman myth. The entire skit must be written in Latin. Either the Latin script alone, or the Latin script accompanied by a videotape of the skit being performed, may be submitted. Criteria for judging are correct use of Latin, integration of the myth into the plot of the skit, and creativity. First ($50), second ($30), and third ($20) prizes will be awarded in each contest.
Minnesota's V-P Dennis Rayl and Michelle Vitt, both veterans of Terence Tunberg's summer Latin seminars in Lexington, Kentucky, have instituted colloquia Latina at a Barnes & Nobles Bookstore in Roseville on one Saturday afternoon per month. So far turnout has been small, but the participants have enjoyed conducting their discussions "of this, that, and the other thing" in Latin.
A list of Latin programs in Minnesota schools is now conveniently posted on the CAM web site. Lately Dennis Rayl has had to field not only requests for substitute Latin teachers to take over in emergency situations, but also requests for help from Latin teachers planning to move to Minnesota and acquire teaching jobs. The Latin job market here is by no means bleak, but it is not especially bright, either. Ellen Sassenberg has revitalized the program at Mayo High School in Rochester (St. Olaf College Classics majors visited her classes on Oct. 19 to drum up enthusiasm), and students are signing up in droves to take Latin from her next year. On the other hand, rumor has it that St. Paul Academy has decided to drop its venerable Latin program, in favor of Chinese or Japanese, as soon as the current instructor (who won a teaching award just a year ago) retires.
Late last spring Regional V-P Anne Groton wrote a letter urging the school board not to cut Latin from the curriculum at her alma mater, York High School in Elmhurst, Illinois. There has been no similar crisis in the Northern Plains this year--at least none that we know of. While the health of Latin and Greek in this region of the country can never be taken for granted, for the moment at least, all is well.