Keeping the Latin language alive in the school community is one of the main goals of Huntington High School’s Latin Honor Society, which is led by an enthusiastic group of students.
The organization’s executive board consists of Ella Siepel (president), Alexis Kaloudis (vice president), Kyle Colleluori (treasurer), Andrew McKenzie (secretary) and Lauren Holly (public relations coordinator). Latin teacher Kristin Fortunato is the group’s faculty advisor.
“The Latin Honor Society is comprised of upperclassmen who have excelled in their study of Latin,” Ms. Fortunato said. “We meet bi-weekly to celebrate Roman culture and holidays, provide tutoring and prepare for upcoming Latin exams and competitions. These students are dedicated to the language and have created a unique family-like atmosphere and support structure among themselves.”
Although relatively small in size, the Latin Honor Society makes up for it with unparalleled energy and devotion. The group is completely devoted to its cause, including Wednesday afternoon tutoring sessions for students spread across Latin I, II and III.
“In a normal year, Latin Honor Society partakes in several events,” Ms. Kaloudis said. “We participate in initiatives such as the Celebration of Saturnalia, a celebration of the god Saturn and the Certamen, a Latin competition with other schools. We also make a promotional video about the Latin program and what it offers for students at Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School. This year we couldn’t make it in person so we all recorded small videos of ourselves talking about Latin to present to the kids. The society also offers weekly tutoring.”
The source of several modern day Christmas traditions, the Celebration of Saturnalia includes parties complete with food and games. The goal is to spread Roman culture and have fun at the same time.
Huntington Latin students have always performed well at the Certamen, traveling to Stony Brook University for the competition. The teenagers go head to head with counterparts from other Long Island high schools and have fun interacting with those on multiple Latin levels.
“Each year, the Latin Honor Society leads the effort of Huntington Latin students who participate in the Suffolk County Latin Certamen competition,” Ms. Fortunato said. “Last year, the competition was canceled a mere week before the schools went virtual and members have been working hard to keep the moral and spirit of Latin alive and well until it returns.”
The club has been creative in furthering its goals during the ongoing pandemic. “One example is the creation of virtual spirit days in class like ‘Toga Tuesdays,’” Ms. Fortunato said. “Another is posting cultural information and celebratory messages on our Instagram account for Roman holidays. This year, the society did a wonderful job creating a promotional video to send to the sixth grade students before their language selection, showing off their favorite parts about taking the Latin language.”
The organization’s members are determined not to allow the COVID-19 pandemic to stand in the way of accomplishing the group’s mission.
“We are trying to make the best of the situation,” Mr. McKenzie said. “We have changed the in-person meeting with the STEM school kids to an online slideshow and we are trying to think of how to host our yearly events safely. Despite the situation, I’m still very proud to be a part of the society. It’s a subject I believe has contributed a great deal to my intellectual growth and it’s a community that’s been together since seventh grade. As a senior, I’m glad we can use this organization to pass the torch of Latin to the next generation of kids and even to people around us.”
The organization’s executive board is so enthusiastic that it has been difficult to live with the restrictions necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is tough this year for us to do everything we usually do,” Mr. Colleluori said.