Victoria again for Riverhead’s Latinists

COURTESY PHOTO | Front row left to right: John Rios, Katelyn McKissick, Peter Cook and Gwen Hilles. Second row left to right: James Rios, Erin Plitt, Latin teacher Lorene Cluster, Emily Behr and Emily Pearce.

The Riverhead School District’s Latin team took home a slew of prizes — including one student who won the contest’s first-ever “Suffolk Classical Society Scholarship” — at the ninth annual Suffolk County Classical Society Declamatio at Stony Brook University last week.

During the competition, students memorized then recited — or declaimed — passages from ancient and contemporary Latin literature before a panel of judges. Riverhead took 11 out of 14 places, including a three-way tie for first place in one category, in four categories last Friday.

In the Middle School Level I division, Riverhead swept the competition as Gwen “Aqua Columba” Hilles, Peter “Argentus” Cook, and Helene “Abelinda Lunae” Drozd all tied for first place. Emily “Hibernia Rosa” Pearce took second place, and third went to Aidan “Ignis Lux” Saltini.

The Level II competition is split into two sections, Cicero and Seneca. In the Cicero Division, James “Octavius Aurelius” Rios took first, Erin “Pandibula” Plitt won second, and Emily “Marnibear” Behr placed third. In the Seneca Division, Liana “Bellatrix Atalanta” Salgado took first place.

In the High School Advanced Level III division, sophomore Katelyn “Amystella” McKissick took second place. John “Odysseus Tyrannus” Rios, a senior, took first place and the first-ever “Suffolk Classical Society Scholarship” in recognition of his many triumphs in Declamatio and the Certamen competition held in the spring over the past six years. John, whose younger brother James also participates in the contest, has placed every year in the competition since seventh grade.

Riverhead Middle School is one of the few intermediate schools in the nation to offer Latin courses to its students. The team, which has taken home numerous awards at previous competitions, has established itself as a force every year since the Declamatio began.

“At the end of a very dramatic, eventful day Riverhead returned home with a righteously earned 11 out of 14 awards,” Daniel Raynor wrote in the latest issue of Riptide, the high school’s student newspaper. “Not too shabby.”

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