The Scholar and The Magistra

When Katerina Banks was a Percy Jackson-loving sixth grader at Seneca Ridge Middle School, teacher Andrea Weiskopf visited one of her classes to make the case for seventh grade Latin.

Weiskopf, known by her students as magistra (or teacher), explained how Latin helps with understanding English grammar and vocabulary, along with important elements of western culture. She also mentioned Latin’s influence on J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” series, who used Latin in many of the spells and character names in her books.

“I was basically sold after that,” Banks said. “Latin represented something new and different, which I’ve always found really interesting—taking interest in learning new things that are different or unusual compared to what most of my peers are doing.”

Now Banks is a senior at Dominion High School, with a passion for spoken Latin—and the works of Caesar and Virgil under her belt. Banks’ current Latin teacher, Caitlin Campbell, says she’s gone above and beyond in her pursuit of a mastery of the oral language in addition to her rigorous curriculum. Banks took the Advanced Placement test earlier this month and will get her results this summer.

Banks (who is also a classically trained violinist) will study classics and music at the University of Kentucky in the fall. The university’s focus on fluent speaking, reading and writing of Latin was a big draw. Last summer, Banks was one of a handful of high school students participating in a weeklong spoken Latin immersion program at UK (attended mostly by undergrads, graduate students and professors).

“It was one the greatest experiences I’ve had in all of my classical education,” Banks said. She’s considering a career as a professor or teacher—in Latin, of course.

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