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Latin language all-stars

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | May 6, 2020 1:14 AM

Five Cd'A Charter eighth-graders ace National Latin Exam

COEUR d’ALENE — Five Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy eighth-graders know, "scientia potentia est."

Knowledge is power, that is.

And these five students don't need a translation — their Latin language skills are the tip of the top.

Emma Fisch, Abby Moehring, Cameron Baker, Stanley Luo and Sebastian Baker all aced the National Latin Exam (NLE), scoring 100 percent on the 40-question test.

The NLE is a test annually taken by Latin students across the United States and around the world. Rather than a competition, it's an opportunity for students to receive reinforcement and recognition for their accomplishments in the classroom.

"I was really happy about it because I’ve been working pretty hard in that class," Emma said Wednesday. "It felt really nice to know that I did well."

The students had 30 minutes to complete the multiple choice exam, which they took in early March. The tests were proctored by guidance counselors in the school's multipurpose room, a neutral test-taking area. Official results were announced in mid-April.

"I didn't think that I got a perfect score, but I was surprised that I did," Cameron said. "I try to pay attention in class and it just sticks with me."

More than 37,500 students at 3,000 schools across the country and abroad took the Latin 1 level NLE.

Cd’A Charter earned gold medals at three times the rate of the nationwide average of 12 percent. Charter had about 90 percent of all the Latin 1 gold medals in Idaho and 100 percent of the Latin 1 perfect scores in Idaho.

Only 0.018 percent of Latin 1 students nationwide earned a perfect score. Charter had five perfect scores out of a total of 665 nationwide. Only 15 schools in the nation had a higher number of perfect scores than Charter while nine others tied.

"It’s kind of a David and Goliath story, because we’re such a small school here," said Coeur d'Alene Charter Latin teacher Matt Williams. "There's only 15 schools in the entire nation that have more perfect scores than we do."

Williams said early on, he realized his eighth-graders were outperforming students from previous years.

"This is my best year personally. We had three times better than just last year. I was really happy it panned out," he said. "We’re just focusing on the perfect scores, but every score was good."

He said Latin is not just an ancient language, but one that is increasingly relevant in the science and medical fields.

"People think it’s a dead language, but we’re still teaching it,” Williams said. "All the weird things are all Latin based. There’s a lot of stories there. When they coin new words, they mostly use Latin and Greek."

Emma explained that the test required a solid understanding of the Latin language by asking students to figure out the proper context and words to use in different sentences.

Latin is a requirement for all Charter eighth-graders. It is the basis for the Romance languages, including French, Italian and Spanish.

"It really helps with your English comprehension," Emma said. "I've always wanted to have a career in science, biology and the veterinary field, so I think it will be really helpful because most of the terms, especially in the medical field, are Latin."

Cameron said he finds it to be a subject that holds his interest.

"It's like a puzzle," he said. "Putting it together, we have all these endings with different tenses. It's so different than English."

Info: www.nle.org

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S. Baker

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Fisch

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C. Baker

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Luo