Junior Classical League Community Service

Originally posted on May 16, 2018, by Althea Porter, Grade 3 lead teacher & LCA KY Junior Classical League sponsor

It has been one of my great pleasures to serve as the sponsor for our local chapter of the Junior Classical League. It’s the thing I do that makes the most sense to me. It’s the thing I do that makes the least sense to others. My fellow JCL sponsors always want to know just how a non-Latin-teaching person got involved with the “Latin Club.” My friends, who are probably much like you, always want to know just what exactly is the JCL?

The Junior Classical League is a student-run national service organization that seeks to promote the Classics. Students compete in academic testing focused on Greek and Roman History and Latin. At convention, they dress in togas—toga pura, toga pulla, toga, picta—is anyone else feeling shocked that kids know the difference? They make Latin puns, Greek puns, Caesar jokes, translate pop songs into Latin, speak to each other in Latin, and just Latin, Latin, Latin! But somewhere in this Latin fray is a small group of students working on a project for veterans, the homeless, or kids in hospitals. These small service projects are not a point of emphasis at convention and are barely acknowledged by the state delegation.

Sadly, for a majority of the JCL chapters in Kentucky, these very small projects at convention are the only community service that any of them do all year. For LCA, on the other hand, community service is a regular part of our JCL experience. It’s just what we do. Our delegation has completed the most community service in the state of Kentucky for at least 6 years. In 2016, LCA was awarded first place for community service at the National JCL Convention.

The executive board of the KYJCL tried to encourage other delegations to follow our example and created an annual service award—the Service Stick—to be awarded to schools who did the most community service each year. LCA has the proud distinction of being the first school to be awarded this Service Stick. The next year, we were the second school to be awarded the Service Stick. The third year, the board changed the standard and openly pledged to award the Service Stick to any school that did half as much service as LCA. We were the third school to be awarded the Service Stick. This year, we heard a rumor that the board would award the Service Stick to any school who did any service at all. We are the fourth—and final—school to be awarded the Service Stick. LCA was also awarded our state’s Spirit Stick as an acknowledgement of all the service we did this year.

How? Why? How can our humble Academy do so much and why doesn’t it seem like so much? Because it’s not just service that’s being done. It’s a response. It’s a dialogue that is being had between the JCLCA and the community around us. It is a conversation that seeks to include all others. It’s just what we do.

Some of our service projects this school year have included cleaning a park, sponsoring the LCA food drive, spreading the “JoyCL” with holiday gifts for teachers, and making Valentines for Vets. You can find a more complete list of the JCL service projects here.