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1/19/2012 3:14:00 PM
Revived Latin program at St. Mary's Academy provides solid linguistic foundation
St. Mary's Academy photo
Latin students from St. Mary's Academy enjoy a sunny moment in St. Peter's Square.
St. Mary's Academy photo
Latin students from St. Mary's Academy enjoy a sunny moment in St. Peter's Square.

Students at St. Mary’s Academy are learning that Latin is anything but a dead language. The school stopped offering Latin in the ’70s, but revived the program six years ago due to high student interest. The classes are taught by Michael Reinbold, a St. Mary’s Academy faculty member in his 14th year of service to the school.
St. Mary’s is one of a very small number of schools in the Portland-metro area that teach Latin. Eighty St. Mary’s students take Latin, and they say the discipline has helped improve their vocabulary, grammar and overall understanding of how languages are structured. They say it helps boost their SAT writing and critical reading scores and, especially for those who plan to pursue careers in fields such as law, medicine and science, that it will help them in their college studies and beyond.
“Latin is the heart and soul of Western Language and Western Civilization,” Reinbold said. “In learning Latin, a student learns who she is and how she came to be. She learns both heritage and structure that will propel her forward into understanding, understanding that will change her perception of herself, her society and the very structure of the language she speaks today.”
St. Mary’s offers four years of Latin. During the fourth year, an Advanced Placement course, students translate Virgil’s The Aeneid. Beginning next year, AP students also will translate selected works by Julius Caesar.
St. Mary’s Latin program places a strong emphasis on culture and history, and every other year, students have the opportunity to travel to either Italy or Greece to experience first-hand what they’ve been learning about in lectures and books.
During spring break 2011, a group of 52 students and parent and faculty chaperones spent 10 days in Southern Italy and on the islands of Sicily and Capri. They visited Rome, Vatican City, Pompeii, Palermo and Syracuse, where they saw the tomb of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes. They also saw Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe.
“It’s just mind-blowing to connect the pieces of what you learn in the classroom with real life,” said St. Mary’s senior Ellena Basada.

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