It’s Latin for Writer

Rachel Katz


Many North Toronto students may have noticed a certain special event going on at the school on October 20th. This was an event that brought over 200 enthusiastic Classic Students and their teachers together from all over Toronto and the GTA to compete for a trophy and bragging rights. That event was the Fall Certamen.

As a Certamen participant at the Year II (Intermediate) level, this Fall Certamen marked a special event for me and the other members of the NT teams. Along with St. Clement’s, the North Toronto Classics Club provided food, competition rooms, scoring and study space for students from a variety of schools including Markham District, Waterloo, Bear Creek and Humberside among others.

With the exception of a select few readers, most of you are likely wondering, “What the heck is a Certamen?” It’s a question that has been posed to me many times, so I have decided to explain what the event is and why it is one of the things that makes a year at NT fun for me.

“Certamen” is the Latin word for “contest” and can relate to anything from boat races to a game of discus (Ultimate.) In this case, certamen refers to a Reach For The Top-esque competition. It involves teams of up to four players from a variety of schools, going head-to-head to answer questions about Roman life, Roman History, Classical Mythology and Latin Vocabulary and Derivatives. The contest is divided into Junior, Intermediate and Senior, based on the years of Latin you have taken.

This probably sounds really weird and a tad lame, but in truth, it isn’t. If you are into Classics, Certamen is a blast. You get to meet a number of other students who share your interest in Latin and the Classical world. Yes, it is a lot of studying, but it pays off in the end, and the knowledge you gain is satisfying both within and outside the competition. It feels great being the first person to buzz in the answer to a question in the semi-final or final rounds of play. But at the same time it is also awesome to sit in class and be able to tune out because you learned what is being taught already from the Certamen study materials.

So when the time comes to start preparing for the Spring Certamen, drop by the Classics Room! You might just fall in love with Classics and learn some really cool things too!