Thanks to the hard work of State Vice-Presidents Vicky Pagan (Wisconsin), Dennis Rayl (Minnesota), Judith Sebesta (South Dakota), and David Volk (North Dakota), this has been an upbeat year for Classics in the Northern Plains.  The number of K-12 schools offering Latin has remained stable; the number of students enrolled in Latin classes seems to be higher than ever (though more data is needed here).     


High-school Latin is still being offered in Pierre and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  At the University of South Dakota, Clayton Lehmann has been teaching second-year Ancient Greek pro bono while Judith Sebesta teaches second-year Latin. 


Late last fall, when a failed referendum in Rochester, Minnesota, put Ellen Sassenberg's Latin program at Mayo High School in jeopardy, CPL undertook a letter-writing campaign.  Although the verdict is still out, the signs are promising:  far more notes were received about Latin than about any other threatened program at the school.  Thank you so very much to everyone who took time out from a holiday break to help keep Latin alive in Rochester!  On behalf of the Northern Plains, Anne Groton wrote letters of support for the Latin program at Talawanda High School in Oxford, OH, and for the Department of Classical Studies at Loyola University in Chicago, as well as for the Latin program at Mayo.


The Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youths is launching a new program, “Let's Learn Latin” for grades 6-8.  A five-week course will introduce students to the Ancient World.  In addition to learning the basics of Latin, they will get a smattering of geography, mythology, and history.  After an all-day session, the class continues in the WCATY on-line community with coursework led by Gale Stone.


Latin teacher education has become a major concern in Minnesota.  No certified Latin teacher could be found last summer to fill a part-time position at Jefferson High School in Bloomington, MN, so the future of Latin at that school is uncertain.  All teacher education programs in Minnesota must now be re-licensed to suit the state's new guidelines.  Concordia College's application to re-license its Latin Education program has already been approved; applications to re-license the Latin Education programs at St. Olaf College, Carleton College, and Gustavus Adophus College are pending.


Within the past two years, five students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have earned Latin teaching certification; four more students are currently enrolled in the program there.  On March 27, Vicky Pagan will host an informational hour for all those interested in a career in teaching high school Latin.  She is eager for recruits.  “Please tell everyone”, she says, “that the Latin Secondary Education Major at Madison is alive and ready for action!” 


Under the leadership of Jerry Reedy (Macalester College), the relationship between the Classical Association of Minnesota (CAM) and the Minnesota Humanities Commission has blossomed.  On October 28, 2000, CAM held its annual meeting at the beautiful Humanities Education Center, a renovated 1924 hall located near a picturesque lake in east St. Paul.  The meeting coincided with the second day of a two-day seminar for humanities teachers (with graduate credit available from Hamline University) called “Gladiators; From Reel to Real” and led by Beth Severy (Macalester).  Combining the two events produced one of the largest turnouts ever (close to 100 people) for a CAM meeting.  The program featured an address by Erich Gruen (Berkeley) on “Cleopatra in Rome:  Facts and Fantasies” and a panel discussion on “Archaeology:  Advances in the Classroom and the Field” (with Carolyn Nicholson from Dig magazine and Andrew Overman and Michael Nelson from Macalester).  Byron Bekiares, recently retired from Jefferson High School in Bloomington, received CAM's Annual Latin Teaching Award. 


Fr. Reginald Foster will be paying a visit to the Northern Plains this August.  CAM hopes to pack the house with a “Dies cum Reginaldo” in Minnesota (for details see CAM's new web site:  Fr. Foster will give a presentation to members of the Wisconsin Latin Teacher Association (WLTA) in Madison on the afternoon of August 7; this will follow a morning discussion of Aeneid Books 10 and 12 (with special attention to the passages on the AP syllabus).  Vicky Pagan hopes that this will be the first of an annual series of workshops and lectures for high-school Latin teachers in Wisconsin; she got the idea for it from the results of the questionnaire she distributed to WLTA members last year.  At the annual meeting of WLTA, to be held in Appleton, November 1-3, 2001, Barbara McManus will direct a workshop on VRoma for which CPL has contributed $200 toward expenses. 


The Junior Classical League (JCL) continues to thrive in North Dakota and Wisconsin.  North Dakota students attended the NJCL convention in Norman, Oklahoma in the summer of 2000 and plan to attend the convention in New Orleans this summer.  The North Dakota JCL convention will be held on March 22-23 at Grand Forks Red River High School.  Along with the usual academic testing, certamen, graphic arts, and creative arts, there will be a new “Romecoming” activity.  225 students from 16 high schools in Wisconsin attended the Wisconsin JCL convention on January 26-27, 2001 at UW-Madison.  On April 6, approximately 300 Latin students from around Wisconsin will gather at the Historical Society of Wisconsin in Madison to see persona presentations by Bernard Barcio and Donna Wright of Pompeiana, Inc.; CPL has generously furnished $200 to cover the cost of the auditorium. 


In the southeast corner of Minnesota a certamen hiemale is held annually; this year (January 20) it attracted students from four different secondary schools, competing at three different levels.  Winning teams will receive new traveling trophies, funded by CAM, for their schools.  CAM also gives monetary prizes to Minnesota students who score a 39 or 40 on the National Latin Exam.  Even without that incentive, several North Dakota students have won NLE scholarships over the past five years.  Students at Ben Franklin Junior High in Fargo, ND, took the National Myth Exam for the first time this spring; David Volk hopes to make this a yearly tradition and expand it to other schools in North Dakota.


For National Latin Week in April, the North Dakotans are planning activities geared to elementary school students.  Meanwhile, in Minnesota, Anne Groton and her troupe of St. Olaf College Classics students will be taking their production of Plautus' Pseudolus on the road to four nearby schools (Minneapolis South High School, Edina High School, Schaeffer Academy in Rochester, and Gustavus Adolphus College) before two evening performances at St. Olaf (April 26-28).  Concordia College's Latin Days in early May will round out the academic year.


During the past year the Department of Classics at UW-Madison has sponsored a graduate student conference on “The Journey in Antiquity” along with lectures by Roger Bagnall (keynote speaker for the annual meeting of the Ancient Historians Association), Stanley Burstein and Frank Holt (Edson Lectures), John Dobbins and Andrea Berlin  (AIA Lectures), Seth Shein, Jon D. Mikalson, Maria Wyke, Ellen Millender, Sergio Cassali, and Richard Thomas.  Among the many guest speakers at the University of Minnesota this year, one was “shared” with St. Olaf College and Carleton College:  Ralph Rosen (University of Pennsylvania) gave a talk at St. Olaf on February 22, at the University of Minnesota the next day.  Co-sponsorship is a win-win, cost-efficient way for schools in relatively remote locations to bring distinguished visitors, whom they could not otherwise afford, to their campuses.  Other regions might give it a try.


All of these successes would be enhanced if more ways could be devised for Classicists in these four states to collaborate; at the moment they do little more than inform one another of events in their home territories and often not until after those events have taken place!  Much more could be done to promote and publicize Latin in classrooms, at meetings of school boards and school officials, as well as at the state government level.



This material was posted on the web by CPL Chair, Tom Sienkewicz, at Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois. If you have any questions, you can contact him at

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