The ancient language is not so "dead" at these classical schools in the Bronx.
It’s the dead language that refuses to die.
In the Bronx borough of New York City, students are learning Latin–and learning that it’s very much alive.
A network of public schools called Classical Charter Schools is training a new generation in the language that has been the lifeblood of classical and Church history.
More than a quarter of the network’s students scored at the highest tier on a recent national Latin exam, the New York Post reported.
“When we were founded nearly 15 years ago, we set out to offer children in the South Bronx something they never had before,” network founder Lester Long told the newspaper. “We wanted to offer Latin, giving them a world-class education rooted in the classics. As these exceptional national scores show, we are accomplishing that goal.”
In addition to Latin, the Classical Charter Schools network offers a “rigorous classical curriculum” that includes philosophy, rhetoric, art, music, and debate, according to its website. It believes such an education will enable students to get into top colleges and universities and navigate the world “with creativity and critical thought.”
Teacher Chris Perednia told the Post that Spanish-speaking students are surprised to recognize the direct connection of their mother tongue to Roman antiquity.
“At first we introduce the stories and adventures of the gods, and that gets them interested, hearing about Zeus and Hera,” Perednia told the paper. “And then they start to see how their own world connects back to that time. They become invested in it.”
Latin skills help give students a deeper understanding of English as well. Hikma Umar said her 7th-grade son often identifies the Latin roots of words during dinner at home. “He just really loves language and reading,” she said. “When the rest of us are watching TV he’ll be in his room reading. He’s more interested in that.”