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3 students earn highest award on National Latin Exam

Much like the Roman Empire, a little “aurum” carries a lot of weight.

Under the tutelage of Mr. Don Kelly, who has taught Latin at Wilbraham & Monson Academy for 46 years, three students - Michelle Itkin ’22, Luke Lombard ’22 and Arielle Chechile ’24 - earned gold medals on the 2022 National Latin Exam.

Gold is the highest score for the annual world examination. In total, 10 WMA students received honors for their performance on the NLE. 


Mr. Kelly regarding Michelle (Advanced Latin Reading Comprehension): “Michelle has taken Latin all four of her years at WMA. She accelerated her course of study by completing both the Latin 2 and the Latin 3 curricula during her sophomore year. She did this in order to take AP Latin as a senior. By winning a gold medal on this year's exam, Michelle has been selected to apply for a scholarship. In reading the ‘Gallic Wars of Julius Caesar,’ Michelle has enjoyed pointing out Caesar's chauvinism and megalomania.”

Mr. Kelly regarding Arielle (Advanced Latin Poetry Exam): “Arielle entered WMA as a ninth grader with two years of Latin under her belt from the Academy Hill School in Springfield. Her command of Latin was strong enough to qualify for Honors Latin 3 as a ninth grader. In Honors Latin 4 this year she has been reading selections from Pliny, Martial, Ovid, Catullus, Ovid and Vergil. She is a master at recognizing Latin grammatical forms.”

Mr. Kelly regarding Luke (Beginning Latin Exam): “Luke switched into Latin from Spanish during his junior year. He is now in Latin 2. Luke is meticulous in the preparation of his written assignments for class. Likewise, in class he often asks thoughtful questions about the Roman experience, and these questions often lead to insightful discussions among the students about Roman civilization.”

Arielle on how she benefits from taking Latin: “One way I have benefited from taking Latin is that my English and Spanish vocabulary has expanded. Because Latin has strong influences in both languages, I can usually understand basic meanings behind words I do not know based on the Latin words from which they were derived.”

Michelle on why she was interested in taking Latin: “I was really interested in Greek and Roman mythology and culture in middle school, so when I was picking classes for freshman year, I signed up for Latin 1 so I could further pursue this interest. I ended up falling in love with the language and took an accelerated version of the curriculum so I could take AP this year. Knowing Latin gives such an interesting insight into history, I get to read poems and speeches in the same format the Romans did 2,000 years ago, which not many people can say.

Luke Lombard on having Mr. Kelly as a teacher: “Mr. Kelly instructs in an extremely thorough manner in which old material is being thoroughly and consistently relearned in order to better understand it. While my time learning under Mr. Kelly has been relatively short (two years), clearly it has had a definite impact on my academic ability. I would never have thought that I would have been able to score a gold medal in the National Latin Exam.”

WMA Awards won on the NLE

Gold Medal: Luke Lombard ’22, Michelle Itkin ’22, Arielle Chechile ’24

Silver: Steven Holik ’22
Magna Cum Laude: Zihan Tian ’22, David Prickett ’23

Cum Laude Certificates: Abigail Ames ’24, Denzel Muthua ’22, Ryan Quigley ’22, Madeleine Soukup ’22






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