There is an effort underway to save Latin—a dead language—from dying another death on the list of courses offer to the town’s seventh graders.
Because of budget constraints and because more and more students are interested in learning Mandarin Chinese and French, school administrators struck Latin from the STEM course offering for 7th graders.
But some parents and former Sandwich students are not happy about the decision.
They turned out in force for the school committee’s meeting Wednesday, July 23, to let the board know they they are not happy about the potential loss of a Latin program for 7th- and 8th-grade students.
Gary A. Cundiff said that both of his sons took Latin in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades and he believes the language fits well within a STEM curriculum.
He said that Latin is a great life skill and he has seen his sons benefit in their everyday lives because they know Latin. “I’ve seen them figure out the meaning of a word that they’ve never heard before just because they studied Latin,” he said, and that includes scientific, medical, technical terms.
Sandwich graduate Christopher Jordan will be attending the agricultural program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the fall and realized during orientation that his Latin education is going to be invaluable to his college education. “The first thing my professor said was that he hoped we took Latin,” he said. “I’ll be taking seven classes in the fall semester and in each of those classes are Latin roots.”
But administrators Wednesday were quick to point out that Latin will not vanish from district—it just will not be offered to middle school students. And they reiterated that the decision to trim it from the STEM course offerings was largely budgetary.
“The discussion is not really about whether to offer Latin, it’s about when to offer Latin. It is important for the community to know that we are not looking to phase it out,” said high school principal Ellin Booras. “From a fiscal perspective it would be difficult to justify having two full-time educators teaching Latin.”
Dr. Booras put a lot of emphasis on the upcoming school year being a transition year for the school community.
“There is absolutely no intention of eliminating Latin,” she said. “I think next year we will really look at where it is best to position Latin.”
Superintendent C. Richard Canfield also assured parents that Latin was an important program to both himself and Dr. Booras and that they are hoping to overcome some of the issues they are currently facing.
“Both of us are absolute fans of Latin, however programmatically we face some challenges that we need to address,” he said.