Classes come together after hours to celebrate Saturnalia


Latin students participate in a game of limbo at Saturnalia. They took part in this and other Latin-related activities, including a poster competition, a catwalk, and human chariot competitions.

Sameer Nanda, Staff Writer

In the ancient Roman culture, civilians held the Saturnalia festival every December in honor of the god Saturn, making sacrifices at the Temple of Saturn located in the Roman Forum as well as participating in many other traditions.  On Dec. 12, Latin students celebrated their own versions of the annual Saturnalia festival.

While they were not given permission to sacrifice any domesticated animals, the Latin community conjured up several traditions of their own. The gathering took place in the cafeteria over two hours.  Students participated in a variety of events including human chariot races, musical chairs and the toga catwalk.

“The chariot races were spectacular, filled with high tech gear and implausible techniques,” said junior Naomi Boico.  “The musical chairs were even better; I have never seen passionate competition from such a large group of people.  The Saturnalia catwalk was fabulous.  We got to see such modeling potential—it was surreal.  And of course the limbo was definitely a sight to see!  I guess you could call us the traveling circus.”

Between the scheduled activities, attendants walked around the cafeteria, admiring artwork done by each grade level as a part of the annual poster competition.  This year, students from each grade level were assigned to illustrate designated characters from The Avengers while including Roman themes.  For example, in their poster, senior Latin students portrayed Iron Man surrounded by anvils—symbolizing Vulcan, the god of metalworking.  The juniors illustrated the Hulk leaving Rome in ruins and the sophomores portrayed Captain America bordered by Saturn’s varying forms.  The freshmen Latin students created their own individual posters that spanned the walls of the cafeteria.  At the end of the night, the juniors won the competition.  Their creation will be showcased in the Foreign Language hallway in the following month.

“Everyone in our class put their souls into this poster.  Everyone helped by either complimenting, commenting, painting, suggesting, making the slogan, cleaning, etc.  We did this as the junior class.  I think the impressive part of this whole process of making a banner and, to put it simply in cliché terms, was how our class came together to make this.  Everyone participated in one way or another. It was truly a wonderful, collaborative experience,” said Boico.

Throughout the night, students ate various foods while conversing about Latin-related subjects.

“As a freshman, I never expected Latin to be so rich with events such as Saturnalia that illustrated people’s enthusiasm over the subject as well as the culture,” said freshman Maria Kogan.

“I loved the entire experience,” said Foreign Language Department Chair Ms. Carol Ferrante.  “This event is the perfect medium for students to come together and celebrate something they all have in common—Latin.  And it was wonderful to see that accomplished in such an enjoyable way, and Ms. Griffin and Dr. Lindemann as well as the administration, of course, are to thank for that.”

At the beginning of the year, Latin teacher Ms. Elizabeth Griffin prepares for the event with the Latin Club.  Students gather in room A2 on Tuesday mornings to discuss all things Latin, such as potential themes and other ideas that go into creating this event. Ms. Griffin’s participation in the event was welcomed and appreciated by her students.

“I feel great that I have been able to participate in this great event for four years,” said senior Ryan O’Reilly.  “Ms. Griffin is a great teacher and has instilled a passion for Latin within me.  So I’d like to say to Ms. Griffin: please, stay awesome.”

Attendees continuously praised her as the “queen of the toga party,” according to French teacher Dr. Louise Lindemann.

“Ms. Griffin does a wonderful job with Saturnalia. She really took charge and really shaped the event up to be the great thing it is,” said Ms. Ferrante.

“The students handled each event with such passion.  That’s what I think is unique about Saturnalia.  Every year, Saturnalia is a completely different experience because, with a whole new crop of students, each individual brings something different to the table,” said Dr. Lindemann.  “This year, I think the students were very enthusiastic and participated actively in the festivities.  It seemed like no one wanted to leave!”

Saturnalia is currently the only major event for Latin students.  School administrators hope to change that.

“This event should definitely be publicized more than it currently is,” said Ms. Ferrante.  “Also, the Foreign Language Department is planning on echoing this great event with a ‘Latin Week,’ similar to the ‘French Week,’ held several weeks ago by Mrs. Cherie Delio in March.”

As nine o’clock rolled around, students gradually made their way out with white castle boxes assembled into pyramids and smiles planted on their faces.