Highlanders ‘carpe diem’ at Latin State Convention

After fourth hour on Jan. 26, 32 Homestead Latin students boarded a bus headed for the Wisconsin Junior Classical League (WJCL) State Convention in Madison. This was the first multi-day convention since 2020, and after a virtual convention in 2021, and a one-day event in 2022, the mostly senior Latin V’s were ready to get back.

“I was really anxious people wouldn’t take it seriously, and as someone who planned it, I was very nervous to see how people reacted,” Abigail Horwitz, Senior Latin V, and WJCL Treasurer, said.

Highlanders students on board the bus shortly before leaving Homestead. (Matthew Seiberlich)

After arriving, checking in and setting things in hotel rooms at, the group convened, for the first general assembly.

“Our General assemblies start with what is in my opinion the best part of convention, spirit. Basically what spirit is, is each team doing a bunch of cheers and later getting ranked on energy and loudness as a representation of school spirit. You can win great prizes like mini plastic guitars and princess wands covered in glitter that light up,” London Boettcher, sophomore, and Latin II, said.

Joe Lorenz, senior, leads cheer in the pirate themed first General Assembly. (Matthew Seiberlich)

After spirit, the general assembly continued with opening remarks, introductory prizes and the WJCL creed and song. After the assembly concluded, the students moved on to the first round of testing.

The testing consisted of 12 tests between Thursday and Friday and covered a wide variety of topics from Roman history to Latin vocabulary to mythology.

“The tests were honestly like kind of fun too. The Greek one, like, it was funny cause I was sitting next to Anthony, and it was just funny cause we opened the Greek derivative packet and we all had the same reaction, which was just ultimate confusion,” Emma Beaulieu, senior and Latin II, said.
After testing, the night consisted of events like swimming in the hotel pool, a Kahoot, poster hanging, a bazaar and a meet the candidates for those running to be on the WJCL board. The night concluded with fellowship before lights went out at 12:15.

After an early breakfast, the convention relocated to Monona Terrace a few blocks away.

“We got to the big room and arranged ourselves into groups by schools. We cheered until our voices were gone. Me and Sara had to sing Celine Dion to get her AirPods back from lost and found,” Addison Drumm, freshman, and Latin I, said.

Highlanders cheer during the second General Assembly spirit. (Matthew Seiberlich)

The second general assembly concluded and the students prepared for round two of tests.

“Testing was questions either you had definitely knew the answer to or some alien words which you had no chance, which made the tests enjoyable actually,” Luke LaLonde, freshman, said.

After more testing, it was time for a wide variety of activities including impromptu art, war machine and many people’s favorite activity; certamen.

“Certamen is a competition. It’s like Latin Jeopardy. Three teams of four people from different schools and everyone gets a buzzer. And they read a question, and you buzz in to answer the question. The tossup questions are 10 points, and if you get it right, you get two bonus questions and those are each worth 5 points,” Drumm said.

All teams did well, and the teams for Latin I, Latin II and Latin V all made it to the finals later that night.

“My favorite Certamen memory was when I buzzed in for a question, but [Brookfield Academy] buzzed before me and they got it wrong, and it was a history question and Matthew’s usually our history guy, but I buzzed cause I knew it. And Matthew turned and looked at me dead in the eye and starting staring daggers at me. But then I got it right and I was so happy. That’s why I love certamen”, Boettcher said.

Wolf Smallwood, sophomore, and Michelle Imas, sophomore, during the Friday night toga dinner. (Matthew Seiberlich)

The students then returned to the hotel and had a “toga dinner” wearing bedsheets tied as togas. After dinner, it was time for Finals certamen rounds.

In hard-fought matches, the Latin I team of Captain Charlotte King, Addison Drumm, Luke LaLonde and Emily Taylor, freshman, placed first.

This was the first time Homestead brought home first place in eight years.

The Freshman Latin I team of Luke LaLonde (left), Charlotte King (left center), Emily Taylor (right center), and Addison Drumm (right). (Matthew Seiberlich)

The Latin II team of Captain Matthew Seiberlich, London Boettcher, Joseph Smallwood and Michelle Imas, sophomores, tied for second place

The Latin V team of Captain Brian Franks, junior, Lilly Ladd, Mark Schimpf, and Abigail Horwitz, seniors, placed third.
“Practicing Certamen with my team has been one of the most rewarding and stressful adventures of my life. With all of the last-minute cramming that I had done, I never thought we would win, especially with the caution tape around Brookfield Academy. I thought we would never be prepared, but we crushed all of the competition, respectfully. Though we did answer questions incorrectly, we did so as a group, which is what I feel we had as an advantage over the other teams,” Taylor said.

After another late night and early morning, it was time for awards. Dozens of students from Homestead placed in the top 10 for all of the test categories, as well as many students placed for their art contest submissions.

Homestead students also won contests such as the chess tournament, war machine, scrapbook contest, door decoration contest and the photo of the convention.

The top prizes of the convention were Charlotte King and Luke LaLonde placing 5th and 3rd respectively in the top 10 students overall. This was the second and third time in Homestead history that Homestead students placed in the top ten. Homestead as a whole won 1st place for overall qualitative points (points per student).

“It just seemed that everything clicked. We had kids that were talented in all different areas, and that’s where I think that it really helped us. We had kids that were talented in the arts. We had kids that were talented in oratory. We had kids that were talented in Certamen, and we had kids that were talented in the testing. It all came together like a tsunami and it was beautiful to watch. We never win like this, we never win everything like this. We swept and I was so proud,” Magistra Marianne Wallach, Latin teacher, said.

After much applause, many congratulations and beaming smiles, the fourth and final General Assembly ended with a tear-filled final speech from outgoing WJCL President senior, Sonia Zacharias.

“Convention has allowed me to grow closer with my classmates and make so many new friends from other schools. I love Latin. I love Magis,” Zacharias said.

The delegates then boarded the bus and returned to Mequon as champions.

“Convention is always the highlight of my year and really allows me to spend time with people that have a similar passion for Latin. Veni Vidi Vici,” Lilly Ladd, senior and Homestead Latin Club President, said.

The Latin class of 2023 pose with Magistra Wallach for one last photo together in front of the capitol. (Matthew Seiberlich)

Magistra Wallach talks of next year’s convention with high expectations and plans for what to improve.

“I would love to do a [repeat], you know? Let’s do it, the same thing and just be a bit more prepared for certamen and maybe learn a little Greek,” Wallach said.