Latin might be a dead language, but the Nevada Junior Classical League has been helping keep it alive for teens in Nevada for 16 years.
Despite the pandemic canceling live events, the league, with more than 100 middle and high school members statewide, has continued to thrive remotely.
“Being forced online ended up being a blessing. It gave us an opportunity to bond with others that we ordinarily would not have met,” said Brinley Belding, a 15-year-old sophomore at the Meadows School in Summerlin.
League members normally attend ancient Greek- and Roman-themed events and work on community service projects at conventions.
Southern Nevada Amici Pratis, an annual event in November, had a big turnout online last year because students from Northern Nevada who normally don’t attend could participate virtually, said Belding, head of community outreach for the league.
The league hasn’t set a date for its next convention, but it will likely be in late March, said Belding, who has studied Latin since middle school.
There are national, regional and local chapters of the Junior Classical League. Members must be taking Latin or Greek to join.
Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno and Carson City have local chapters based at schools that offer Latin courses.
The Las Vegas chapter is at the Meadows School, a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade private school, where eighth-graders are required to take Latin.
Classical studies is also a requirement for freshmen at Liberty High School in Henderson, home of another chapter.
Thomas Garvey, co-chair of the Nevada Junior Classical League, said that while schools in some other states include Latin in their curriculum, most schools in Nevada do not.
“A lot of the newer states in the West, they do not have these traditions because they were founded after changes in educational trends,” he said.
Garvey, who has taught Latin at the Meadows School for eight years, said learning Latin helps students analyze words, ideas and literature more critically.
“The skills you learn, specifically in the Latin classroom when it’s done properly, transfer over to everything one does in life,” he said.
Students studying the Latin and Greek language also learn about the history and culture of ancient Rome and Greece, which is one reason Brinley loves studying Latin.
“It’s just really fascinating to see the culture of the Roman civilization that we study about in books, and then to be able to see similarities in today’s society,” Brinley said.