This weekend, Columbia’s two high schools hosted the 63rd annual Missouri Junior Classical League Convention, with Latin students from high schools across the state traveling to attend. On the evening of Friday, April 19, the convention kicked off at RBHS with opening statements from both MOJCL officers and RBHS principal, Mark Maus.
After a skit from the officers, several events were held that night, such as Latin sight-reading, dramatic interpretation, an open quiz bowl competition, impromptu art activities and oral modern myth.
The sight-reading required participants to study a passage in Latin for no more than fifteen minutes, without aid, and then recite it to judges with the proper stress and pronunciation, given the mood of the text. This was similar to dramatic interpretation, in which students acted out prepared scenes from famous classical works. The oral modern myth section showcased the creative side of Junior Classical League members, with those participating crafting stories based off of Greek and Roman mythology.
RBHS sophomore C.J. Phillips participated in the costume contest with junior Meghan Schwartzkopf, but it was the storytelling aspect of classical studies that intrigued him the most and brought him to the convention.
“I really like the stories they tell,” Phillips said. “I like the epics and even the small stuff; it’s really interesting.”
The night ended at 10 p.m. with a series of competitive spirit games between schools called “Romecoming.”
The next day, JCL members arrived at Hickman High School at 9 a.m., where they began their morning with opening statements from MOJCL officers and Hickman principal Tracey Conrad. Former JCL member Joe Goodkin played and sang a self-composed piece on acoustic guitar called “The Odyssey: A Musical Performance,” in which he recounted the story of Odysseus and his journey back from the Trojan War in song.
The rest of the day consisted of Latin quiz bowl and chess competitions, art and costume contests, volleyball, a service project and the election of new MOJCL officers. The event concluded Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. with the induction of new MOJCL officers, scholarship announcements and closing remarks from Travis Golick, a sophomore at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis.
Because MOJCL is the state branch of the Junior Classical League, the convention saw students from all over Missouri and required officers and teacher sponsors to collaborate and organize over long distances in between their two planning meetings in the spring and fall. Enthusiastic cheers and laughter were common sounds on both days of the event, which coordinating chairman and RBHS Latin teacher Jim Meyer attributed to student leadership.
“We’ve had years where it’s been very popular. We’ve had years where it’s been really hard to drum up interest. What’s interesting to me is that the difference between those two is oftentimes a matter of a small handful of students,” Meyer said. “That small handful of students generates the excitement for kids who really could probably go either way, but because those kids are leading the pack, they come out.”
By Jilly Dos Santos