This story was originally published in the Fall 2010 issue of Harker Quarterly
Since 1998, Harker’s Latin programs have been highly successful, due to a high degree of commitment from both the students and faculty. “The kids are enthusiastic about what they do, and they get it when it comes to excelling at these things,” said John Hawley, upper school Latin teacher. This enthusiasm has resulted in consistent top placements in both state and national competitions. Since it first went into full swing in 1998, the upper school’s Junior Classical League (JCL) has placed either first or second in its division in every state JCL convention it has entered since 2000. “We got very good, very fast,” Hawley said.
The middle school program, too, has often received top honors at state competitions and has finished in the top 10 at nationals.
“The addition of the sixth graders to the middle school means that Latin starts earlier and that eighth graders compete at a higher level,” said Lisa Masoni, middle school Latin teacher. “In fact, the California Junior Classical League needed to create a new category, Middle School 3, last year, because of the students from Harker and a few other middle schools with three-year programs.”
In May, 13 Harker upper school students won awards after taking the Medusa Mythology Exam, which tests knowledge of Greek mythology and is open to all students. Shannon Su, grade 10, received a gold medal award and was eligible to apply for a cash prize. Taking silver were Ashvin Swaminathan and Richard Fan, both grade 10, while sophomore Phillip Oung and Jessica Lin, grade 11, earned bronze medal awards. Sophomores Jonathan Cho, Eric Zhang, Pranav Sharma, Sean Fernandes, Suchita Nety and junior Alex Hsu received Corona Laurea Certificates. Prag Batra and Ila Dwivedi, both grade 11, won Corona Olivae Certificates.
Most recently, at the national JCL convention, held at North Dakota State University in late July, four Harker students earned top spots.
Annirudh Ankola, grade 8, competed at levels 1 and 2 and took first place in novice open certamen, second place in large models and third in boys costume.
Oishi Banerjee, a grade 9 student who represented the middle school at level 2, had the most top finishes of the Harker students in attendance at the convention. Banerjee had first place finishes in level 2 girls Latin sight reading; level 2 girls dramatic interpretation; and mottoes, quotes and abbreviations. She also placed second in modern myth, intermediate competitive, level 2 Latin oratory and creative arts.
Nik Datuashvili, grade 10, competed at level 3 and took first place in ancient geography and Hellenic history. Classmate Fan also competed at level 3 and took first place in the junior boys 800 meters and second places in the junior boys marathon.
Finally, level 4 competitor Lin, took second place in Roman life
Editor’s Note: Oung and Banerjee have since transferred to other schools.