Three Columbia Independent School students earned laurels for getting perfect scores on the National Latin Exam.
Katy Burch-Hudson, Max Vale and Heather Bethel all aced the test. Only 1 percent of the 135,000 test takers in North America, Europe, Australia and China can say the same.
All CIS students take at least three years of Latin, and teacher Sue Ann Moore makes preparation for the National Latin Exam part of every course. The exam covers grammar and reading skills plus classical history, geography and culture.
Moore said 53 of her 87 students earned recognition medals, which are given to students who score at various levels. There’s usually only one flawless test.
"We’ve never had three perfect scores in a single year," she said.
Latin classes focus on cultural studies and reading because there’s less knowledge about everyday spoken forms of the language.
Katy, 13, is in her second year of Latin. Heather and Max, both 15, are fourth-year students and have progressed to translating the first-century B.C. classical epic "The Aeneid" by Virgil from Latin to English.
"You don’t speak Latin, obviously, but it’s a new experience," Heather said.
Max agreed. "You’re probably not going to use Latin unless you’re doing classical studies," he said, but it sharpens the memory and "makes you learn how to think."
Katy said studying Latin helps her decipher new words on standardized tests and in more unexpected places.
"My coach from soccer said we had to figure out what ‘magnanimous’ meant because he said he was being magnanimous at practice the other day," she said. "I was surprised I knew."
Heather and Max got to practice their language skills during the school’s recent spring break trip to Italy. Their skills only helped a little with modern Italian, but there were plenty of inscriptions to read in Rome.