T-D Announces its Latin Club!

By: Kristen Narain, Staff Reporter

This year our very own Dr. Kernell has started a new and unique after school club focused on the learning and recitation of Latin. Dr. Kernell has been a known teacher of classics for over a decade and is excited to announce the start of the new program. The Overlook Journal had the chance to talk to the teacher regarding the nature of the club, its purpose, and his overall love of the language.


Q: When did you start learning Latin? Did you like it a lot?

A: I wanted to learn Latin in high school, but the “Latinist” was a recycled English teacher and lunatic who didn’t know very much about either language. So I took Spanish and French instead from a couple of excellent instructors. I returned to Latin after 3-4 years of ancient Greek. At first I liked Greek much better – I thought of Greek as a girl I was in love with who brought her roomate along on dates – but as I got more sophisticated, authors like Catullus, Lucretius, Propertius, Petronius, Pliny Junior, Tacitus et al. Homer, Archiolokhos, Sophocles, Euripides, and Lysias among my faves.


Q: How did this Latin club start?

A: Kristen Narain, current junior, wanted to take Latin, but couldn’t fit it into her schedule. The club is a spinoff of last year’s after-school Greek poetry sessions, especially the clemmies. Outside classes and reading groups are an excellent way to pursue Greek and Latin. I probably learned as much Greek chanting Homer Saturday mornings with the great rhapsode Stephen Daitz as I learned in graduate school-and had a lot more fun. Last year I read Plato’s Symposium with my Saturday class, and experience I didn’t know was on my bucket list. That group includes a brilliant professor of Judaic studies at Brooklyn College, the three-time winner of the oral reading contest and several post-grads from Hunter College, barefoot eagles, all of them. I’m proud that they call me “magister” (well shaming me about my beat-up sneakers) and they keep me at the top of my game.


Q: Who is currently in the class?

A: Kristen Narain, Solana Gagliano, and Sarah Stark


Q: Do you like Latin afterschool?

A: Very much. The level of interest and ability delights me and the Chapel is a favorite room.


Q: Do you hope to have more students?

A: YES! Latin at Thornton-Donovan is a candle in the wind. It is a fascinating subject worth doing and, besides the language acquisition, can lead in a number of directions depending on interest. To say nothing of the dimensions Latin adds to English and other modern languages.


Q: Do you have anything to add? Questions, comments, death threats (a famous phrase from Dr. K)?

A: I would like to see us branch off into recitation of Latin poetry with the possible contingent in the NYC Classics Club Oral reading contest if there is interest. Three cash prizes! The NYCC also has a separate contest for playcuts. Cash prizes! As a Charismatic former teacher of mine used to say, “There’s money in classics!“ Survivors of Etymology may remember the tortured love poems of Catullus and the “puzzle poems” of Propertius (for that class, great sources of Latin-English vocabulary). We’d be working from both Latin originals and English translations at first, of course, but would be correcting misconceptions about pronunciation, rhythm, and meter perpetrated and perpetuated, alas, but many classicists who should know better. Since the club is entirely optional, we have a flexible agenda. Last year, Quincy Campbell made a terrific video based on a passage from Sallust; remember it from the Arts House Café? The vitamin by the dinner plate is the Latin language, but we are by no means limited to nuts and bolts.