Reasons to cheer at Latin convention

Things get loud and wild at the General Assemblies at the GJCL State Convention.

“In Rome’s proud steps we’re marching on, with every true colleague, and for ever we’ll hold to the Purple and Gold, of the Junior Classical League! J-C-L! J-C-L! J-C-L!”


By TEJAS ATHNI, Gazebo Correspondent

EATONTON, GA— These were the types of cheers and celebrations that were heard and echoed all throughout the Rock Eagle 4H Center’s campus during the 2016 Latin State Convention on April 15-17.

Sponsored by the Georgia Junior Classical League, or the GJCL, the state Latin convention, included academic tests, like Roman History or Mythology, athletic events, such as chariot races and ancient Roman basketball, and even recreational activities, such as catapult workshops and the dance.  Students were able to experience a diverse array of events all related to Latin and Roman culture.

For the first time after a hiatus of many years, Stratford Academy took a group of 13 students to participate in the 2016 Latin state convention under the supervision of high school Latin teacher Mr. Brian Wells and middle school Latin teacher Ms. Lindsey Morse.

The students who attended were freshman Kenzie Muenzer, junior Meredith Fuchs, and sophomores Morgan Mathis, Carlin Weinberg, Manasa Vemuri, Emily Fackler, Ellie Wangerin, Shawn Shivdat, Tejas Athni, Sammy Martin, Stephen Durso, Tripp Vaughn, and Preston Kennedy.

Read Kenzie Muenzer’s column “Lessons from a Latin weekend.”

The girls chariot team included Ellie Wangerin, Meredith Fuchs, Morgan Mathis, Carlin Weinberg, and the rider Tejas Athni.

One of the most exciting and spirited events during the convention was the chariot race. The boys’ chariot was driven by four boys (Stephen Durso, Sammy Martin, Tripp Vaughn, and Preston Kennedy) and was ridden by one girl (Natalie Cundiff). The girls’ chariot was driven by four girls (Meredith Fuchs, Morgan Mathis, Ellie Wangerin, and Carlin Weinberg) and was ridden by one boy (Tejas Athni).

As the chariot teams lined up, the crowd was going wild. Signs and school-spirit posters were thrown up high into the air, and arms moved in unison while shouting school cheers. Team members were yelling at the top of their lungs, and the coaches were tense yet confident in their team’s abilities. And, best of all, both Stratford chariot teams, after winning their long and hard preliminary rounds, advanced to the finals. At the close of the competition, both the boys’ and the girls’ chariot teams finished sixth in the state of Georgia.

“The chariot race was really exciting, and if we had known a little more on what to expect or how to prepare the chariot, we could have finished somewhere in the top 5 for sure,” said sophomore Sammy Martin. “I’m proud of our debut performance this year, but there are some major improvements that we could implement to our chariot for next year.”

Stratford’s Latin team also participated in the competitive certamen competition, which is essentially a Latin version of academic bowl. The team consisted of Meredith Fuchs, Ellie Wangerin, Emily Fackler, and captain Tejas Athni, with alternates of Tripp Vaughn, Sammy Martin, and Shawn Shivdat. After competing in three rounds of preliminaries, the team advanced to the semifinals.

“We competed against advanced, experienced schools across the state of Georgia,” said junior Meredith Fuchs. “With the sharp minds of everyone on the team, I’m proud that we claimed victory and made it into the semi-finals.”

Although the team fell to long-time reigning champion George Walton Academy, the team did extremely well for its first competition.

“Once we gained confidence going into the tournament, we really clicked as a team and powered through to make it into the semifinals,” said sophomore Emily Fackler. “I’m excited to see us go into the tournament next year full of confidence and make it even farther in the competition.”

After an event-filled weekend, the Stratford team came home with an array of honors and awards. In the poster and chart competition, Tripp Vaughn won first, Emily Fackler won this and  Tejas Athni took fifth.

In the reading comprehension academic test, Shawn Shivdat was third and  Manasa Vemuri took fifth. In the photography competition, Tejas Athni took third. In the girls’ dramatic interpretation competition, Meredith Fuchs took second. In the large models competition, Morgan Mathis took fourth. In the computer generated art competition, Tejas Athni took fifth. In the Olympika softball throw, Sammy Martin was fifth.

(From B-T, L-R): Kenzie Muenzer, Carlin Weinberg, Manasa Vemuri, Morgan Mathis, Emily Fackler, Ellie Wangerin, Natalie Cundiff, Tejas Athni, Tripp Vaughn, Meredith Fuchs, Mr. Brian Wells, Stephen Durso, Sammy Martin, Shawn Shivdat

At the end of the weekend, Stratford came home with 14 awards.

“I’m extremely proud of my students this year. They went into a very overwhelming situation and did very, very well,” said Latin Club sponsor Mr. Brian Wells. “We did notice that they were just too few of us. We couldn’t do everything we wanted to do, but next year, we’re hoping to recruit more people to the competitive club, prepare better, and we should really do much much better putting Stratford on the map.”

When asked about future goals of the Latin Team, Wells responded, “We’ve made a reputation for Stratford as a strong and up-and-coming school this year. Next year, we’ll have our focus on getting the gold.”