Latin classes celebrate with Toga Day

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 | 6:28 p.m. CDT; updated 7:26 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — For Columbia Independent School students studying Latin, Wednesday was a day to set aside the school’s normal dress code and wear togas.

Keeping with tradition, the school’s 11 Latin classes celebrated a year of hard work with the 10th annual Toga Day. After walking down Broadway in togas for lunch at Harpo’s, the students returned to school to perform skits they had been preparing for the last three weeks. Parents were invited to attend, and the audience filled Senior Hall at Stephens College.

The students spoofed popular culture, infusing their skits with facts about Italy and Roman culture. Skit titles included “The Roman Bachelor,” “Austin Powers Goes to Rome” and “Trojan Wars Episode XIII: Return of the Trojans.” The classes worked to prepare a total of seven skits, each introduced by student emcees.

“We usually ask for volunteers to write the skits and then we spend a little bit of each class working on them,” said Sue Ann Moore, a Latin teacher and director of the program. “Some groups even get together on weekends to prepare.”

All the students wear homemade togas every year, and the teachers are no exception.

“This one is fairly new; I’ve had it for about three years,” Moore said of her toga. “I have another toga I wore for a long time before that.”

All Columbia Independent School students are required to take at least three years of Latin beginning in sixth grade and are enrolled in classes based on their grade and skill level. Moore wanted to create a way for Latin students to demonstrate their knowledge in a creative way.

“When we opened the school, all the students took Latin,” Moore said. “I just came up with this as a way of celebrating at the end of every year.”

Eleventh-grader Taylor Harper and 10th-grader Walker Smith said all the Latin students were excited for the annual event. Both students are in Advanced Placement Latin and have been preparing for the end-of-the-year AP exam by translating “The Aeneid” from Latin to English then back to Latin.

“It’s something different to do than regular class,” Smith said. “I think the school gets pretty excited for it and has fun.”

Harper said she has enjoyed Latin class and has learned a lot, but it was nice to do something different.

“You can still do Toga Day even after you have taken all the classes,” Harper said. “I’ll do it next year, maybe emcee the program. It’s fun.”

Smith agreed and said he will continue participating in Toga Day after completing AP Latin.

“It’s something we like doing,” he said.

After the celebration, the Latin students went back to studying out of the textbook and preparing for finals, Moore said.

“They just go back to their regular classes for the rest of the day,” Moore said. “But they keep their togas on.”

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