Latin Club/Junior Classical League · National Latin Honor Society

Latin Club Christmas Party Recap

Some of the gifts from the party

Last year, we didn’t have a Christmas party for Latin Club, but this year, with our record 110 students registered as club members, I thought it would be nice to have one. We ended up doing a cookie/candy swap (think Secret Santa, but sugary things only) with a $5 limit.

It was a huge success! We had around 50 students RSVP (so they could participate in the swap), and more showed up for the party itself. We held the party on a Friday afternoon immediately after school, and it was over in about 30-45 minutes (the perfect length, in my book).

I tried to let the students do most of the planning and setup/cleanup – here’s what worked for us if you’re thinking about doing something similar next year.

  • We set the date a few weeks in advance and made the RSVP deadline a Monday for the Friday party.
  • One of our Latin Club secretaries made the Google Form we used for the RSVPs. The questions asked:
    • Name, grade
    • Will you participate in the cookie/candy swap?
    • What cookie/candy do you want?
    • Note: next year, we will take out the “do you want to participate” question, since the whole point of the RSVP form is for people who want to participate in the swap. We also need to add on a question about allergies and dietary restrictions – two of our students who have severe, life-threatening nut allergies didn’t include this information in their responses, but their Secret Santas needed to know, especially because one of these students wanted chocolate chip cookies.
  • Another secretary made the Sign-Up Genius for our Latin Club Leadership members to bring food and drinks. This included cookies, candy canes, popcorn, pretzels, etc. I brought the serving bowls and platters.
  • I sent out the Secret Santa assignments via email. This was the most labor-intensive part for me. Next year, I need to include a tactful reminder to only buy the gifts requested, since we had at least one student get something they didn’t ask for (it was actually something they really didn’t like).

On the day of the party, students brought their food and gifts to my classroom. They dropped their things off on two carts we borrowed from the maintenance crew. One thing I was a stickler about was making sure the gift was packaged at least minimally (I brought gift bags, tissue paper, gift tags, and bows from home); at the very least, they need to put their “To” and “From” on the gift tag. We didn’t do a big ceremony for the swap, since there were so many kids – we just trusted them to only grab the gift labeled for them off the table.

We held the party in a small section of our cafeteria that can be partitioned off. When we were done, a group of our National Latin Honor Society students took care of the clean-up so they could earn thirty minutes of their required two hours of service hours to the Latin faculty.

Like I said, this was a huge hit. The kids all had a great time, and it was a nice way to spend some down time with them. Next year, we might incorporate some charity aspect into the party (bringing a high-need item for a homeless shelter or a canned good with their gift, for example); it depends on what the kids want to do.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season – see you next year!

Latin Club/Junior Classical League

Structuring our JCL (Latin Club) Chapter

First post! Welcome!

I wanted to write something about Latin Club (JCL) for my first post, since I find very little about it out there on the Internet. There are tons of great Latin pedagogy blogs, but it’s hard to find ideas for Latin Club specifically. I hope this helps if you’re thinking about building a JCL chapter.

Last year (my first year teaching), we had a fairly active JCL chapter. Our club held semi-regular meetings where we watched movies, listened to Elvis songs in Latin (fabulous!), ate lots of bad-for-you food, and spent time together. We had about 50 students or so registered in Latin Club, which meant about 15 or 20 who would regularly come to meetings. We also attended the GJCL Convention, bringing about 20 students – a big success for our first time attending as a school!

Fast forward to this year: instead of 50 registered JCL students, we have 110. Instead of 3 students attending Fall Forum (like last year), we had 14. I imagine we will have at least 30 students attending GJCL Convention in the spring. On top of this, we’re expanding the activities we’re doing as a club: a tailgate for Parochial Schools Night, a Christmas party with a Secret Santa-esque cookie/candy swap, a Google Expeditions “tour,” a Breakout Edu experience, and more.

Organizing all of this would be impossible without my two Latin teacher colleagues, our fantastic department head, and the entire team of administrators, maintenance men, and clerical staff at our school. But the other key ingredient is our leadership team.

Last year, we had officers for Latin Club, but we (read: I) didn’t have much for them to do. This year, we structured our leadership team and officer positions differently. Here’s how it works:

  1. We have Latin Club, and within that, we have a group of students called Latin Club Leadership (LCL). The only requirement to be in LCL is that you sign up for it and you come to the meetings; this means students from freshmen to seniors can feel ownership in the club.
  2. Within LCL, we have a team of officers. Our officer positions are pretty simple:
    1. Co-consuls (one junior, one senior)
    2. Secretary
    3. Historian
      This year, we have two secretaries and three historians. We opened the officer positions to anybody who wanted to claim them, so we have all four grades represented on the officer team.

So how does this work? We expect all LCL members to attend LCL meetings, where we plan the next general meeting (especially if it’s something that will involve lots of resources and/or food) and any upcoming special events, like parties or Works of Mercy (a service requirement of all students at our school). I run these meetings now, but in the future, I plan to hand the reins over to the co-consuls. Our secretaries keep the minutes in Google Docs and create Sign-Up Geniuses (and in the future, Google Forms) for upcoming events, and our historians meet to plan their ongoing project of creating the scrapbook.

I like this structure a lot. It gives the students a healthy amount of responsibility while leaving the Big Stuff (keeping track of money, registering our school for JCL, etc.) for me to do. Plus, even our freshmen feel involved in Latin from the very beginning, something that’s incredibly important to the three of us Latin teachers.

How is your club structured?