Impressive Latin and classical knowledge on display at annual inter-schools competition – runners-up in the Junior category!
In a sense, organised competition derives from the ancient world: the ancient Olympics not only measured athletic success in events such as running (sometimes in armour), long-jumping (complete with hand weights) and the pankration (fighting MMA-style with basically one rule – no biting), but also pitted Greek city-states against one another in a battle for supremacy which, unlike their other contests, was largely bloodless.
Therefore it seems only natural that there should be a competition centred on knowledge of both ancient myth and history as well as the minutiae of Latin grammar. Despite school sports offering alternative ways of spending a weekend morning and the attraction of a lie-in never getting old, no fewer than twenty pupils from Durham School ranging from Year 8 to Year 13 took part, putting to the test their flair for Latin and mastery of Classics. Indeed keen interest in this past world was certainly in evidence, as over 30 teams of three, representing seven schools, gathered at Newcastle High School for Girls in Jesmond last Saturday for a quiz in the style of University Challenge with its bonus questions, limited conferring and passion for the esoteric.
Rounds consisted of seven questions, each with a bonus question for the team answering the starter correctly, and each team had at least six match-ups during the event. Questions ranged from ancient buildings and places and Latin syntax to word derivations and working out artists from the Latin titles of songs, films or books. Perhaps it says something about those interested in the Classical world that alongside questions relating to the geeky material such as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars were ones which required knowledge of Justin Bieber’s greatest hits (should there be any) and knowing that DNCE is not just a misspelling of ‘dance’ (or perhaps that should be ‘dunce’). Needless to say, Miss Baylis and I were fortunate, on occasions, to have the answers printed out for us.
Competition was in three categories – Junior (Years 7-9), Intermediate (Years 10-11) and Senior (Years 12-13). We had three teams in the youngest and oldest competitions and a single entry for the intermediates. Our most successful team were very unlucky not to win – our Junior all-girls unit of Zoe Banks, Elise Besford and Hanlu Shen went unbeaten throughout the whole quiz, and only lost out on accumulation of points, gaining the runners-up spot. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves and gave it their all, displaying great knowledge and speed of reaction while their skills clearly complemented one another. Interestingly the hosts managed to win both this category and the intermediate one; the RGS ‘first team’ secured a victory in the senior section with one individual in particular knowing a lot of answers and backing this up with speed of thought and reflex.
All teams did themselves and the school proud; often it was not a lack of knowledge that hindered them but rather a lack of reaction in ‘buzzing’ or of confidence in having a go! I wish to thank those who competed – and their parents - for giving up part of their weekend and supporting both the school and the discipline of Classics in this way. I hope for similar strength in depth next year when we have every chance of winning a top spot, judging by the performances this time round.
Thanks to: Na’il Goodwin, James Green, Pranav Sambamboorthi, Jonathon Anstee, Zoe Banks, Elise Besford, Bernard Esisi, Robbie Fyfe, Hanlu Shen, Hal Burke, Dominic Gaines, Eleanor Melville, Helena Campbell, Thomas Edge, Charlotte Etherington, Adi Hitchins, Anugraha Krishna, Fione Sime, Joseph Stelling and Matthew Storey.