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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Jun 11, 2021

RCDS Students Earn Recognition for National Latin Exam

The Rumson Country Day School school motto “vitae disce,” Latin for “learn for life,” captures the essence of the school’s goal to empower and inspire its students to excel as lifelong learners. On May 7, RCDS students were recognized for their outstanding performance on the National Latin Exam, marking an important milestone in their lifelong learning journey. The 40-question exam is taken annually by more than 100,000 students worldwide, including 92 seventh and eighth graders from RCDS, the vast majority of whom earned scores that exceeded national averages for the third consecutive year.

“I’m always very proud of our students,” said Latin Teacher Dr. Stephen Gaetano. “Their exam results are a testament to their discipline, hard work, resilience and curiosity. I hope they carry these qualities with them beyond their RCDS experience.”

Overall, 86 percent of RCDS test-takers received accolades for their results, including 32 summa cum laude (13 of which were perfect scores), 29 maxima cum laude, 11 magna cum laude and eight cum laude. Typically, less than 50percentof students taking the National Latin Exam are recognized for these accomplishments.

The RCDS World Language Program encompasses a two-year capstone course in Latin that seventh and eighth graders take in addition to their world language selection. Gaetano’s teaching approach provides an interdisciplinary experience that combines content closely aligned with the other world languages, the RCDS Social Studies, Literature and Language Arts programs.

“Latin forces students to look at words carefully,” he said. “They learn how to decode the complexities of a word and how it’s constructed, gaining an appreciation for language and allowing them to reflect and make connections across subjects.”

Gaetano inspires a unique passion for Latin in his students by incorporating creative elements of fun into his instruction. It is not uncommon to find his class playing games or using props to enhance a lesson.

“Latin can be boring stuff for your average seventh-grader,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see 12-year-olds take a deep dive into the analysis of words and to ask curious questions about grammar. Their study of Latin sparks wonder and curiosity about the world around them. It’s beautiful, and it’s very rewarding.”