Chandler teen finds life in dead languages - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler teen finds life in dead languages

August 19th, 2019 development
Chandler teen finds life in dead languages

By Ally Richmond

Guest Writer


BASIS Chandler junior Adrian Palumbo scored some major points competing with more than 1,100 middle and high school students from over 30 states in a convention that celebrates classic Latin and Greek language, literature and culture.

The 66th annual National Junior Classical League Convention in Fargo, North Dakota, offered Adrian and other students a chance to test their knowledge of the two languages — and the culture and history surrounding them.

They participated in trivia contests, written tests, model building, graphic arts, costume contest and even sporting events as they demonstrated their knowledge of Latin and Greek mythology, architecture and history.

For Adrian, this was his fourth national convention. He was a part of an entourage led by his mother, Sarah  Palumbo, who heads the Classical League’s Arizona chapter, and that included about a dozen other students, mostly from Gilbert.

“It’s five days, and you’re on a college campus with a bunch of other students who are just as enthusiastic about learning as you are. There are a variety of competitions, and I entered as many as I could, from academic tests to graphic arts contents and even sports competitions,” said Adrian.

The Junior Classical League is one of the largest academic youth organizations in the world and contains 50,000 members in 1,200 chapters across the globe. The league was established in 1936 to promote the study of Greek and Latin.

To help promote the league itself, one contest focused on promotional slogans — and Aaron won first place with his.

“The slogan I created was: ‘Latin: Then, Now, Always.’ It’s short, but it’s to the point,” he said.

The slogan contest was not the only competition in which he won first place. He came out on top in the Modern Myth Essay and Small Model Building contests.

In the essay competition, students could choose to retell an old myth in a modern setting, write their own myth to explain the existence of something new or add to an existing myth.

Adrian created a myth about a Grecian statue, called “kouros,” that is typically associated with the time between 400 B.C. to 500 B.C. 

“What makes that so interesting is the mix of elements from both Greek and Roman sculptures. I wrote a love story, I tried not to make it too cheesy, and I focused on the cultural aspects of it and talked about how the two cultures came together and created this new form of art” he said.

In the Small Model Building contest, Adrian built a replica of a Roman siege tower out of a plank of wood.

“I had to learn a lot of skills like woodworking and how to plan things right,” he said.

Adrian also participated in many other events as well, including sporting events such as volleyball.

“With the sports, you’re competing with a bunch of people you don’t even know, and you can just feel the spirit between you guys,” he said.

Adrian has been studying Latin for years.

“I started learning Latin when I was younger, and I had no clue what I wanted to do as an adult, but Latin is present in most fields like medicine, science, government and it will help with SAT scores too,” he explained.

While many believe that Latin is a dead language, he and other league members continue to advocate for its importance in today’s world.

“Learning Latin can help you better understand parts of modern culture, like most of our architecture is based on Roman and Greek themes. A lot of the world around us is based on Latin roots, so knowing that language can help you better understand the world,” Adrian said, who thinks teens should study it and join the league.

“It’s a great opportunity to connect with students around the nation,” he said, adding:

“It connected me to a much larger community, and it’s not just about Latin, but just students who are excited about learning. It leads you to a much larger community where you can share your passions and just put yourself out there and enjoy yourself.”

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