By Zandi Eberstadt '20
Groupthink. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines this word as “a psychological phenomenon whereby pressure within a group to agree results in failures to think critically.” This idea of psychological “pressure” and conformity evokes eerie dystopian images, yet groupthink is a very real phenomenon that harms the development of numerous teenagers each year. Examples of this trend can be observed on the Close, where widespread intolerance for open conversation persists, despite countless studies showing that students who hear numerous viewpoints demonstrate higher degrees of empathy and intellectual maturity. With this in mind, I believe that NCS and St. Albans have a moral obligation to expose students to a variety of viewpoints in the classroom. This change would foster critical thinking and genuine empathy for others, two essential skills for a future in our diversifying world.
Young people crave acceptance and fear rejection. This notion is often known by the name “peer pressure,” a phrase many invoke to explain, for example, the fact that 70 percent of teens who smoke started smoking because of their friends’ habits, or that adolescents are more prone to behave recklessly when classmates are present. However, contrary to what the phrase emphasizes, teenagers are not only influenced by their peers, but by adults, as well. Speaking from personal experience, young people seek to emulate the behavior of grown-ups whom they admire.
So, how does this psychological phenomenon play out in the classroom, where teachers and fellow students alike shape teenagers’ developments? On the Close, just as in many environments, the result is often a sense of ideological conformity and a resistance against diverse perspectives, on issues both “trivial” and “significant.” According to a survey conducted at NCS in 2016, over 88% of the student body shared the same perspective on several hot-button issues. Perhaps this statistic is unsurprising, given the school’s demographic makeup (roughly 80% of students receive no financial aid, representing a highly uniform socioeconomic background), or considering the lack of variation in most students’ accents, music tastes, fashion styles, and go-to conversation topics (*cough* “stress-culture.” I overhead upwards of 100 conversations yesterday in which students complained about schoolwork—that is not an exaggeration.)
Needless to say, some adults in the Close community encourage this conformity in the student body’s thinking. NCS hosts school-wide and class-wide discussions on numerous subjects, from political debate to data analysis to causes of various historical events—and I can’t underscore enough that establishing honest dialogue is a wonderful first step in obtaining knowledge and developing compassion. However, these conversations themselves are often stifled with homogeneity in thought. On several occasions, I’ve seen teachers insert themselves into conversations to agree unequivocally with the dominant viewpoint presented. In that specific setting, this behavior from influential adults 1) reinforces students’ conceptions that they need not defend their opinion when those in authority agree with them, and 2) manipulates pre-existing power balances to shut down any potential opposition from students, thus thwarting the possibility of an open dialogue. I’ve also witnessed multiple teachers not only share their personal ideological views with the entire high school, but make efforts to suppress possible counterarguments. This habit, albeit tempting, is a disservice to all students who attend school to exercise their intellectual capacities rather than to regurgitate their teachers’ talking points in exchange for higher grades.
Let me be very clear: most teachers I’ve encountered are superheroes. Selfless in their work, they seek to change lives for the best. The amount of effort, patience, and talent they put into their jobs is truly remarkable. I mention certain adults’ promotion of groupthink not to criticize all teachers, but instead to point to an obvious lapse in my NCS education. In every environment, especially a more uniform one like the Close, being exposed to diverse viewpoints is necessary to develop sharp mental abilities. Every time students grapple with an opposing viewpoint, they learn about both the workings of the world and their own values. Likewise, when students rarely engage with differing perspectives, they defeat the purpose of their education by being neither well-informed nor experienced in evaluating arguments. Thus, shutting down the possibility of honest dialogue is an act that ceases an ever-important quest for knowledge. Considering both this truth and the fact that my classmates and I will enter adulthood in a world of artificial intelligence, internet trolling, and fake news (take it from yours truly, a Reddit aficionado), NCS and St. Albans have pressing obligations to foster free thinking and a longing for truth in their students.
Given the explosion of social media and internet use in the past decade, my classmates and I are also likely to interact with people of many backgrounds and creeds in our futures. Plus, the demographic makeup of our planet is becoming more and more diverse due in part to mass migration and to exponential population growth. When students don’t understand the viewpoints of their fellow citizens (both global and domestic), their empathy weakens. After all, ignorance easily results in hurtful caricatures of “the other side;” all too often, we respond to the unknown with fear and hatred, an atavistic defense mechanism. Thus, to cultivate a more peaceful and kindhearted world, I urge the Close schools to prepare their students to wrestle with diverse ideas by incorporating conflicting viewpoints into the academic curriculum. This change is painfully needed and relevant to my classmates’ and my futures, projected to take place in the context of a country that’s more divided along partisan lines than ever.
I’m not necessarily calling out any particular ideology in this piece: groupthink affects people of all beliefs. Everyone, especially malleable youth, has an obligation to seek out his or her adversaries’ views. And though not specific to one sect of the population, groupthink is detrimental under any circumstances, no matter one’s creed, race, background, or worldview. Combatting this epidemic by diversifying the perspectives that students hear in the classroom is not only admirable in principle, but crucial in practice. A future led by free-thinking peacemakers depends on it.
By Lars Nordquist '20
With the arrival of a new Upper School Latin teacher to our school, the St. Albans Latin program faces a new set of challenges. Long held together by the mere force of Mr. Ragan’s gravitas, long tenure (at almost 40 years), and copious handouts, the program faces a mild crisis of identity without him, of which students not in the program are ill aware. Of course, the St. Albans hiring committee is more than capable of finding a good teacher, and the new hire is of course very capable and thus likely to succeed at this task, and I and all former Latin students wish him the best of luck with it. First, however, a disclaimer: I am not a Latin teacher, nor a teacher of any kind, so my opinions and interpretations of these matters should be taken with more than a grain of salt.
As a language, Latin itself is incredibly challenging, especially in terms of its grammar, which is extremely unfamiliar to English speakers due to its nature as a highly inflected language. As such, teaching the language in a way such that students can manage to learn it without excessive difficulty is, as it seems to me, a casual observer, very difficult. In teaching Latin in general, strategies naturally fall on ends of a spectrum. On one end, the less stringent side, the language is taught more slowly, with more culture, and accompanied by fun projects and cultural activities. On the other end, the more stringent, grammar driven side, the language is driven in quickly, thoroughly, and painfully. These both have their advantages and disadvantages. The former draws in new students and allows them more, so to speak, “breathing room,” but unfortunately does not teach the actual language itself as efficiently or—in most cases—as thoroughly, causing difficulties in adjusting to rigorous curricula like that of AP Latin further down the line. Meanwhile, despite the fact that the latter both discourages prospective students and actively punishes willing ones and tamps down cultural experience, it also gives students a more immediate and thorough understanding of the language, allowing for more and easier reading of texts in the future.
These rival strategies can be seen as ends of a spectrum of methods for teaching Latin, and it is the job of a good Latin teacher to balance these two in a way that brings out the advantages of both. For example, St. Albans used to use the Cambridge Latin Course textbooks in the Lower and Upper Schools, which more or less embodied the first, less stringent method of teaching, allowing for more vocabulary, culture, and fun and engaging stories to the disadvantage of basic grammar like the genitive case [the way Latin often indicates possession], which is not introduced until the second book. This was changed in the Upper School due to the fact that the books are extremely slow on introducing grammar to its full extent, and Ecce Romani, a much more compact textbook, was introduced in its stead.
Now, of course, there are solutions. One would be carefully choosing the textbook, which is fairly difficult since there is no easy choice even after deciding the direction of the program in general; in addition, the sheer quantity of textbooks for Latin on the market compounds this problem. Compare Ancient Greek, which has an easy choice, Athenaze, a decision made all the more easy by the fact that the general obscurity of the language in modern times does not lend itself to a surplus of textbooks. Of all the Latin textbooks, the best choice is, in my opinion, most likely still Ecce Romani. Since Ecce contains a mere two books, teachers face the issue that there are simply not enough chapters to stretch out over three to four years of Latin; this is solved by moving study of actual Latin texts into Latin III while finishing and reinforcing grammatical learning. However, this solution raises the aforementioned issue of cultural learning and also the issue of vocabulary, a matter in which Ecce is particularly weak.
Another solution to this problem might be extending the opportunity for languages other than Spanish one or even two grades down, allowing for more of a gradual transition to stringent grammatical learning and reading of authentic texts, the natural end goal of any high school Latin program. This idea runs into a variety of issues, not the least of which would be the burden on the school to hire new teachers and rearrange curricula and other general chaos, along with a general lack of very strong demand from the students themselves; this change would be very major, and without heavy support from the teachers, administration, and students alike, it would almost certainly fail.
Yet another issue arises when the idea of teaching Roman history arises: no major textbook, as far as I can tell, gives a strong outline of ancient history, and so Mr. Ragan has had to make use of handouts to teach it—a fine solution given the exceptional quality of them, but unfortunate in principle nonetheless. Since freshman history teaches very ancient history, up to the Greeks but not beyond, and US and European History obviously do not cover the subject, St. Albans Upper School students never really learn Roman history to its full extent. Even worse, the College Board itself has seen fit to split World History into Ancient and Modern as soon as the fall of 2019, divided by the year 1200, and this decision means that any proper AP (Modern) World History course from now on should focus on the post-1200 era, which, despite the fact that St. Albans is abandoning the AP curriculum, could mean that the St. Albans course may do something similar in the sophomore year world history course.
Of course, the St. Albans History Department more or less acts on its own accord when deciding periods to give study within a course (take a look at junior year history for example, which at best skims over the early colonial era); however, if I remember correctly, current senior year World History does not cover Rome either, so it stands to be believed that sophomore year World would not either. Roman history may seem distant and irrelevant to the casual observer, but it has a continuing, heavy impact on all of our lives due to its broad consequences, and, moreover, the fact that our system of government heavily based on that of the Romans has extra impact on St. Albans as a school in DC. As a result, I personally feel that it is very important for students to learn Roman history at some point, and without a clear slot for it in the history curriculum, the only place that it can be taught as a result is in Latin class. Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that ignoring most Roman history is something that the curriculum review forgot; in all likelihood someone brought it up, and the teachers in the curriculum review had good reason to leave it out other than maybe as a subunit of World, which is honestly the best that I and other fans of Roman history can hope for. I honestly cannot say much more on this matter without first seeing what the curriculum for sophomore World is next year: if it has Roman history, this issue is mostly a moot point.
Now, of what consequence is this whole matter to the rest of the school, to non-Latin students? In all honesty, not much, other than the matter of Roman history. These issues are more of a departmental problem, and I hope that the end solution is satisfactory to all. But these issues are not limited to just the St. Albans Classics Department: classics is struggling nationwide, and the same issue of whether to more or less compromise the stringency of the discipline and the language itself in order to have appeal to students. Latin has a notoriety nationwide, although it is somewhat deserved, that discourages potential students, and an overly zealous approach to the language would contribute further to this. The best course for the classics department is to steer the middle course, lest the sun melt the wax on our hubris’ wings.
By Lucy Freemyer '20
I started taking Latin at NCS in ninth grade after taking French for five years. As I started
Latin, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The language is fairly different from romance languages,
considering nouns are declined, meaning they have different endings depending on their
function in the sentence, and Latin is an inflected language. As I started, there was a lot of
grammar and vocabulary that I had to learn. My French background helped a little, but most of
the grammar in Latin is different from French. Latin 1 and 2 mostly consist of learning this
grammar and building a strong basis for being able to translate later on. This includes
everything from conjugating verbs to learning grammatical constructions.
As I entered Latin 3 this year, we applied all that we had learned in the previous years in
order to translate the works of Virgil, Martial and others. These works consist of poems, stories,
quotes, tombstone engravings, written letters and graffiti. These authors also give lots of intel
to the culture in ancient Rome. This allows us to study the lifestyle of the ancient Romans.
Many languages at NCS study current events, politics and history. However, because Latin is no
longer spoken, Latin students study the politics and history of antiquity. The history includes
studying and celebrating Saturnalia, a festival of harvest, and learning about the Trojan War by
reading the Aeneid.
Through studying Latin, I have also learned a lot about the Roman and Greek gods.
Many authors write to these deities or praise them in their works. I have been able to learn
about how these gods influenced the lives of Romans, in positive and negative ways. I think that
studying ancient lifestyles has not only given me context for the language but allowed me to
study the cultural changes over time and historical events that I would not otherwise have
By Harry Grigorian '19
“No one speaks Latin.” Good observation. Who cares?
When I tell someone that I take Latin, they often retort “Latin is a dead language.” If by “dead,” you mean that it is essentially not spoken anywhere outside of the Vatican and some elements of the Catholic Church, then you are right. That is not why I take Latin. Yes, there are absolutely boons to taking spoken languages, but high school Latin far surpasses any of those.
First, Latin is an excellent gateway to other languages; a proficient Latin speaker can somewhat decipher Spanish, French, and Italian writing. Upon entering college, picking up any of these courses is easy. Essentially, Latin is the Level 0 class of every Romance language. It is a valid introduction to any of these tongues, and is highly auspicious for learning new languages.
Latin also immensely supplements study of our own English language. “Who vs. whom,” “if I were vs. if I was,” and all the other time-honored English debates can be settled using Latin. “Who” is used for nominatives; “whom” for accusatives. “If I were” is the subjunctive construction for that conditional clause. Without Latin, my last few sentences would be gibberish. Fundamental English constructions all come from Latin, and rarely a day passes when I don’t rely on my Latin to answer questions in English.
With Latin also comes study of the Roman Empire. Without at least elementary knowledge of Rome, it’s legal systems, and it’s military history, one is entirely unprepared to study history in Europe after the Year 500 AD. Our American Congress, European Medieval battle strategies, the Catholic Church—all are difficult to understand without familiarity with Rome.
N.B. means nota bene, or “note well.” Etc. means et cetera, or “and the rest.” Habeas corpus means “let you have body.” Latin has diffused into our legal and otherwise vernacular language. Especially in the legal realm, understanding these phrases helps understand the law itself.
Most importantly, Latin teaches one to think analytically. It requires a watchful eye and quick thinking to understand Latin. Most of all, though, Latin demands excessive patience and carefulness. While other Romance Languages are more applicable on speaking terms, learning them without learning Latin first does them a disservice.
By Jorge Guajardo '21
I can already see you, a fourth year Latin student, scrolling down to the comments section ready to write a comment roasting this article. Before you do that, I hope you can read this article and get a sense of where I’m coming from. I was once a Latin student myself, so I understand your frustration when everyone ridicules your language choice but still, I implore you to consider my argument.
First, let’s differentiate between a dead language and an extinct language. As know and are told by many students and even teachers, Latin is a dead language. By the definition that it is not the native language of any community, this is true. There are no communities in the world that speak Latin as their primary language. What Latin is not, however, is an extinct language. An extinct language is a language with zero speakers, especially if it has no living descendants. The fact that Latin is taught at schools across the country disqualify it as an extinct language. So given these definitions, let us agree that Latin is, in fact, a dead language.
Now, setting aside its rich history and usefulness in specific situations such as in a hospital or in the courtroom, it’s simply not practical enough to be taught as a full language option. The goal of the language department should be to cultivate a foreign language in a student’s head that can then be directly applied whether it be through reading and writing or more importantly, communication. Latin, due to it being dead, cannot do the latter, which is arguably the most important facet of a language. What is language if not communication?
We are all rather blessed to be native English speakers. English is becoming the lingua franca, or bridge language of the world, and we are lucky that we speak it so effortlessly. However, not everyone in the world speaks English. Per the website of language learning program Babbel, about 1.5 billion people speak English; this amounts to 20 percent of the population. Of those 1.5 billion, 360 million are native speakers.
If you look at some European countries like the Netherlands, around 71 percent speak English as a second language. This is because from the third grade all the way to high school, they become fully proficient in English because of its inclusion in their school curriculum. This shows how efficient proper schooling can be in teaching a foreign language. Imagine if everyone on the close were fully proficient in another language, be it French, Spanish, or Chinese. Able to converse with an entirely new set of people, they broaden their horizons to a significant degree.
Some say that a strong base in Latin is actually beneficial to learning another language in the Romance branch. This is true. A Latin scholar would have an easier experience picking up Spanish or French than someone who studied only English would. However, one could also argue that any Romance language could easily substitute the role of Latin in this case. Instead of learning Latin to then learn French, learn French and then use the knowledge you now have in French to branch off to Spanish or other Romance languages like Italian and Portuguese. In that scenario, you already have a practical and useful language in French that you can use in conversation and can assist you in other languages. With Latin, you may have the same advantage in learning other languages but you lose the practicality of conversing in it.
While Latin may be still an attractive language from a cultural standpoint, as mastering it leads to unlocking rich Roman culture, it lacks in real world application. It is, as we concluded earlier, dead. Even if you want to become a doctor or a lawyer, it can only do so much for you. Learning another language and becoming fluent in it would serve you better than being proficient in reading and writing Latin.
This is why I think Latin should be taught as an elective, and not offered in the same way as the foreign languages currently are. Roman culture is undeniably rich and filled with stories and fables, and the culture section of Latin class was some of the most interesting history I’ve had. Our Latin department is strong and by no means should Latin be abolished as a choice here on the close. However, students should be encouraged to take a language that will benefit them directly in the form of conversation, and Latin should be offered as a secondary choice in order to still maintain the teaching of the classics and satisfy those who wish to pursue it in addition to other languages.
Now here is where you may be questioning the logistics of offering Latin as an elective instead as part of the language department with classes progressing in the same way math does, building on past years’ work. The answer to that, rather disappointingly, is that I’m not sure. Perhaps it could follow the same path Ancient Greek does right now, where after one reaches a proficiency in a certain language by taking certain years they can take Latin as their full language, already proficient in one of the other languages offered on the Close. But at the end of it all, I am not at the head of the curriculum review and I can’t really say what the most realistic option is.
My point is, learn a language. Ideally, a language that allows you to travel to new places and converse with people of entirely different origins. While Latin does many things, it unfortunately does not allow for communication with a different set of people. Because of this, it should not be offered as a main language option but instead as a supplementary elective for those who have already reached proficiency in their previously chosen language.
By Millie Atkins '20
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan is many children’s first
encounter with Greek mythology, despite a variety of other novels dealing with the topic. The
massive exposure to the series has definitely played a part in why it’s a lot of kids’ first choice,
but its fame is rightly deserved, considering what sets it apart from your usual, run-of-the-mill
mythology book. Percy Jackson wasn’t my first Greek myth novel. I grew up reading other
mythology centered children’s books, such as the Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub and
Suzanne Williams, or the Mythic Misadventures series by Carolyn Hennesy. But when I
discovered The Lightning Thief, the first book in the series, in fifth grade, it was a brand-new
Most children’s tales revolving around mythology use solely the preexisting characters
from the myths themselves and alter their original stories to create a new narrative (for example,
Disney’s Hercules). Rick Riordan certainly takes characters from myths too, but he keeps their
backgrounds mostly unchanged. Because his books are primarily narrated by and tell the story of
his own completely original characters, he can use gods and monsters as creative plot points and
minor characters. Greek mythology becomes a vehicle for Riordan to express his own stories
instead of vice-versa, the path many other authors choose to take. The Percy Jackson series is a
nice refresher from simple retellings of myths, by incorporating them in a way that develops the
characters unique to its story, who are ultimately the reason so many people adore the books.
Riordan’s fusion of ancient myths and modern American life also plays a role in defining
its reputation. The Empire State Building doubles as Mount Olympus. The entrance to the
Underworld is in Los Angeles. The main characters hail from New York and Virginia instead of
Athens and Crete. Overall, the popularity of Rick Riordan’s bestselling, mythology-centered
series comes from the relatable characters, loved by fans everywhere, even when fighting furies
By Vicky Wang '20
Before ascending the central platform in the Cathedral, I had to take a deep breath. The
music director had received the wrong music file, and, using a microphone, Mr. Angelov had to
play the music from my phone, which initially refused to download the music. It was a morning
of panic and anxiety; yet, I managed to perform my piece without a hint of nervousness on my
face. Although the performance was a success, it was not until after multiple rehearsals and re-
choreographing about a quarter of the piece that I actually felt ready to present. Preparation is
inevitable, but what I found the most difficult was the dance form itself. Classical Chinese dance
is a tricky dance form for me. I have had training in modern dance in the past; however, that did
not prove to be enough when Mr. Angelov asked me to perform a Chinese traditional piece in the
2018 Dance Gala. I was a blank slate—I had no knowledge of Chinese traditional dance, even
though I am Chinese; I had to start from scratch and learn through watching professionals dance.
I eventually settled on a choreography that used Chinese traditional silk fans, and I asked my
dance instructor for advice regarding movements and facial expressions. The learning process
was strenuous, and blocking the piece was difficult, as I was to perform the dance as a solo.
Adding to the list of complications were the high expectations that I had set for myself. Since
Chinese dance represents my culture, I knew I had to put forth my best performance. Performing
the same piece at the Cathedral was a bit reassuring, as I had already presented the it in front of a
large audience at Trapier theater. Truth to be told, it was a very different feel to perform in the
Cathedral, even though it was a rewarding experience. Overall, I found the never-ending cycle of
rehearsing, choreographing, and blocking to be oddly satisfying, as it allowed me to become both
a more professional dancer, and more attentive to the way in which my presentation would be
received by the audience.
By Nolan Musslewhite '20
Note: This mini-article is the first in a 10-part installment on Roman history, after which will follow a 10-part series on Greek history. Please enjoy!
On April 21, 753 BC, Romulus and Remus stood atop a rather unremarkable Italian hillock—it was known as the “Palatine”—and founded a small settlement that would rise to become one of the most dominant and lasting empires in world history. This ten-part survey briefly traces the traditional, legendary, and mythical history of Rome, and I shall attempt to answer the crucial question; how did a diminutive encampment on the Palatine rise to global dominance, and what became of its grandeur?
I. The Journey Latiumwards
Our story begins at Troy. According to legend, in the 1200s BCE a titanic struggle was waged between the Greeks and the Trojans, inhabitants of a city known as Troy upon the Dardanelles in modern-day Turkey. The cause of the war was divine; three of the most prominent goddesses in the Greek pantheon (Hera, Queen of the Gods; Athena, goddess of Wisdom; and Aphrodite, goddess of Sexual Love) found themselves in the midst of a passionate disagreement about who was the most beautiful. To settle their dispute, Zeus (King of the Gods) appointed Paris, a Trojan prince. Attempting to sway Paris, each of the three goddesses offered him a precious reward should he choose her, but it was Aphrodite’s offer—that he be wed to Helen, wife of a Greek king called Menelaus—that was most convincing to the Trojan squire. Her promise was swiftly delivered upon, and Helen was spirited away from the court of Menelaus to the high walls of Priam, king of Troy.
War followed forthwith, as Greeks hastened to Troy to support Menelaus and regain his snatched wife from Paris. The fighting was intense and heroic—much of it is retold in Homer’s Iliad, most especially the exploits of a Greek general named Achilles—but supported by many of the gods and aided by cunning trickery in the “Trojan Horse” (a fake peace offering that in fact contained Greek soldiers within its belly, allowing the marauders to flood the city by night and open its gates to the invaders waiting outside), the Greeks breached the walls, and began to pillage and burn.
From the carnage escaped a particular Trojan prince—Aeneas, who happened to be a son of the goddess Venus—accompanied by a retinue of comrades. In search of friendly lands and a place to found a new city, he set out from Troy by ship and, after an arduous journey, arrived on the shores of North Africa to a city called Carthage (modern-day Tunis), the home of Queen Dido. The people were friendly, milk and honey flowed, and, most of all, Dido and Aeneas had fallen into the throngs of love for one another, a rather scandalous affair for the previously-unbetrothed Dido and the now-uxorious Aeneas. Alas, this was not to be the Romans’ final home; for Mercury [I have by now switched to the Roman names of the effectively equivalent Greek gods—“Mercury” for “Hermes,” “Venus” for “Aphrodite,” “Jupiter” for “Zeus,” etc.—and yes, the names of our modern-day planets come from these Roman divinities], the Messenger god, flitted down to Aeneas, whom he found strutting bejeweled atop the high walls of Carthage, and bore to him the fateful message from Jupiter himself: Aeneas must head to Latium (the region of Italy around modern-day Rome), as was his fate. Immediately, devoted Aeneas (or pius Aeneas, as goes the famous Latin phrase) sets out, and soon reaches Latium. However, his departure was not casualty-free; in a fit of woeful despair at seeing her lover gone, Dido stabs herself to death, leaving a final curse on the Trojans that shall reappear later in this survey (stay tuned!). Much of the tale of Aeneas’ journey to Rome, it should be noted, is retold in Vergil’s Aeneid.
Thus we conclude the first chapter of Rome’s history, with Trojan ships on Latian sands.
By Brent Moore '22
Coming into freshman year, you are assigned to read seven chapters, known as books, of
Homer's Odyssey, annotating for certain literary devices, including epic similes, metaphors, imagery, and symbolism. You are expected to have a reasonable sense of the central characters, their
relationships with each other, and the rationale behind their actions throughout the epic. In class,
similarities between the books are discussed; diagrams portraying recurring themes are
illustrated; and monologues representing character development, significant quotes, and passages
are highlighted; all with the underlying end-game of the dreaded essay. In retrospect, it’s the first
essay of freshman year, with no word limit; endless opportunities to meet with your teacher to
discuss the path you want to take in your writing; and multiple chances for your teacher and the
class to administer edits, corrections, and any comments they have on your rough draft. Despite a
situation of minimum pressure, it is difficult to avoid getting immersed in an overwhelming
sense of discouragement due to the historical importance and immense size of the Odyssey. The
Odyssey is considered to be one of the greatest works of literature due to the complexity of the
text, Homer's use of illustrative passages to emphasize Odysseus’ arduous journey, and the
portrayal of his moral development throughout the epic. Analyzing the Odyssey assists students
in developing a concrete thesis derived from the text to support an argument throughout an essay.
It is beneficial to begin the ninth-grade curriculum with the Odyssey, because it introduces
students to the process of gaining an advanced comprehension and analysis of literature. In this
context, students also develop an initial understanding of how to construct an essay.
By Priya Phillips '20
Amidst preparation for my final year on the Close, I, like many other students, have found myself putting a great deal of thought into my future yearbook quote. There are many avenues a student could go down while finding a quote, you could google statements like 'funniest yearbook quotes ever' or 'most profound yearbook quotes' or even, like many members of the NCS Class of 2019 did, 'best 'How I Met Your Mother' quotes'. While there are several other legacies you will leave behind at your high school, a yearbook quote is arguably the most tangible and exciting one.
After searching through a plethora of lackluster Beyoncé and 'Friends' quotes, I decided to google 'best quotes about home'. I have gone to school on the Close for my entire life, and I am one of sixteen girls in the Class of 2020 who can proudly declare themselves a lifer. While I don't consider my years at Beauvoir to be the most formative ones, I am thankful that I have always attended school on the Close- even if I haven't always loved it. However, though I haven't always enjoyed my time on the Close, I firmly believe that NCS is my home. If it weren't for NCS, I would simply not be the person that I am today and, for better or for worse, I cannot imagine myself without NCS. As I mindlessly scrolled through a page of quotes about home, I found one that perfectly summarizes my feelings towards graduating in a year: “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to”. The prospect of leaving NCS has always filled me with equal amounts of dread and excitement, two very polarizing emotions, and the above quote has helped me reconcile my dueling feelings.
As I begin my fourteenth year on the Close, I confidently feel like I have taken advantage of everything that NCS has offered up to me. I am confident, caring, and well-educated because of NCS. I am also competitive, a perfectionist, and a bit of an elitist because of the Close. Because I have been surrounded by strong-willed and like-minded women my entire life, I rarely lose faith in my abilities as a student and a leader. However, by growing up surrounded by people like me, I can't help but feel like I have missed out on opportunities for personal growth. Most of the time I am comfortable with the fact that the Close is a bubble because bubbles are safe, but, as I look towards college, I fear that I'm going to be removed from the experiences of my future peers and that I'll find it hard to relate to them. Even though I occasionally feel like being a lifer has hindered me, I would never trade the friends that I've made and the memories I've created for any other life.
I am ready to leave the Close, but that doesn't mean it won't be one of the harder things I will have to do in my life. There is a reason why the Cathedral is always filled to the brim with alumnae during Lessons & Carrols. Whether or not Highschool was the time of your life, your 'glory days', it is undeniable that the Close is responsible for shaping each and every one of us into the people that we are today. The only way that I can think of thanking NCS for everything it has done for me is by making the most out of my senior year. My last year on the Close will undoubtedly be my best, and I am ready to bring my long relationship with NCS to an end.