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Jun 09, 2022

RCDS Students Conquer National Latin Exam

Several seventh and eighth grade RCDS students earned a perfect score on the 2022 National Latin Exam.

Veni, vidi, vici – the ancient Latin phrase attributed to Julius Caesar (“I came, I saw, I conquered”) is an apt description of Rumson Country Day School students’ performance on the 2022 National Latin Exam. For the fourth consecutive year, seventh and eighth grade Gators surpassed national averages on the 40-question exam taken by approximately 80,000 students worldwide. 

All 92 seventh and eighth graders participated in this year’s exam. Eighty percent earned scores that garnered achievement ranging from Cum Laude (with distinction) to Gold Medal (Summa Cum Laude) and even perfect score. 

All RCDS students take Latin in seventh and eighth grade in addition to their World Language selection of French or Spanish. The aim is for students to gain proficiency in reading and translating while learning the impacts of classical Rome on modern American life and society. Latin has also been found to help expand students’ English vocabulary, foster critical thinking skills, and strengthen the foundation for language learning, particularly with Romance languages that are derived from Latin. 

Latin Teacher Dr. Stephen Gaetano said this year’s results are a testament to students’ hard work, discipline and perseverance. Gaetano is also known for injecting Latin scholarship with a great deal of fun. A toga party is held the day before the National Latin Exam, to review for the test and celebrate their knowledge of the content. He also involves the greater RCDS community in helping prep students for the exam. He distributes index cards with practice questions on vocabulary, grammar, culture and history to homeroom teachers as well as other faculty, administrators and staff. 

“Teachers can ask students questions with any free time they have,” Gaetano said. The Latin teacher estimates 1,200 questions were asked of students prior to the exam this year. “Everybody is participating,” he stated. “It has been a labor of love.”