With two perfect scores on the National Latin Exam under her belt, Karen Laakko, a Framingham-resident and a student at The Rivers School in Weston, has decided it's time to move onto another dead tongue - Ancient Greek.
Laakko also started a Latin literary magazine at Rivers, and in her spare time she likes to translate her own short stories from English to Latin. Not bad considering she only reluctantly took the language when she started at Rivers.
"Originally it wasn't my choice - the school requires all students to take it," Laakko recalled. "I was upset at first. I had taken Spanish in elementary school and enjoyed that."
After a year, she said it became clear she wanted to stick with the language of the Romans.
She credits her interest in Latin and study of the Classical World to Latin teacher John McVey.
This year she was one of two students in the Advanced Placement Latin class. One of her favorite parts of the class was reading the epic poem "The Aeneid" by Virgil.
She also decided to move beyond Latin this year. Besides starting to study Ancient Greek, Laakko also dabbled into looking at some other ancient languages.
"Something appeals to me about ancient languages," Laakko said. "A friend of mine and I started an informal study of Egyptian hieroglyphics."
McVey has been impressed with Laakko's interest in Latin and studies of ancient cultures.
"Karen's enthusiasm and passion for the Classical World is unsurpassed," McVey said. "She dedicates herself to it whole-heartedly and has been a joy to teach.
"In every class she has raised the bar by her focus and attention to detail and by her sheer joyful exuberance, which has extended to speaking in Latin at every opportunity."
Her devotion to the language earned Laakko the Austin A. Chute Memorial Prize given to the outstanding Latin student, and she was inducted into the Cum Laude Society. Additionally she earned the Upper School Highest Scholar, which is presented to the student who had the highest academic average for the current year.
Laakko is choosing between attending Colby College and Dartmouth College next year, depending on which offers her the best financial package. She hasn't decided exactly what to major in, perhaps Classics or linguistics.
Over the summer, Laakko hopes to land a job with a bookstore.
"Other than that I will relax, maybe do a little Latin," Laakko said.