In response to the defeat of two levies, the school board in Oxford, Ohio (home to ACL and Miami University)
voted to eliminate Latin from the Talawanda High School curriculum effective in the fall of 2000. This decision
was made despite the fact that 45 students were already registered for Latin for the 2000-2001 school year, not
including an additional 15-20 incoming ninth graders registered for Latin. The Talawanda Latin teacher, Natalie
Harwood, was in the district for 20 years and was in the process of finishing her recently-published The
Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning Latin. In response to this short-sighted decision, Lindsay Meck, a
Talawanda freshman and first year Latin student, and her mother Kathy Ellison, waged a successful campaign to
keep Latin in the curriculum.
Lindsay wrote a proposal to the local radio station for a possible 60-minute show about Latin's value to today's youth on one of the shows they have about local issues. They agreed and even asked Lindsay to serve as associate producer of the show which went well, with many call-ins. The local paper printed a big article on her and her Latin Crusade. Nevertheless the School Board held firm in its resolve to cut Latin for 2000-2001.
The Latin Task Force considered a variety of alternatives, including distance learning, hiring a part-time teacher, sending students to Miami University, but none were viable for various reasons. Instead the Task Force directed its energies to reinstating Latin at Talawanda. In January, 2001, the School Board agreed to do so in the fall of 2001, provided there was sufficient interest. This is when the work of the Task Force really began. Lindsay Meck and Kathy Elison obtained copies of a CPL brochure entitled "Latin, Try It, You'll Like It!" which was distributed to middle and high school students in the district. In addition, with some help and advice from the CPL Chair, they organized a Classics Bee designed to show prospective Latin students how much Latin and Classics they already knew and how important Latin was to general culture. They even used an appropriate e-mail handle: GotLatin@aol.com.
Here is how their efforts were described in an article in the Oxford Press published on the appropriate date of April 21, 2001: “When the school board voted to cut Latin from the curriculum last year, Meck and her mother, Kathy Ellison fought back. Forming an organization called Latin Task Force, they created a Web site, lobbied the school board, and tried to create interest in Latin among eighth-graders at Talawanda Middle School by placing articles in the middle school newsletter and putting on a "Classics Bee."
Their efforts were remarkably successful. Latin was welcomed back to Talawanda High School in the fall of 2001 with near record enrollments. Last spring, eighty-three students, including forty-three freshmen, registered for Latin I. Lindsay Meck and Kathy Ellison have not rested on their laurels, however. Their recruitment campaign continues as they look ahead to the 2002-2003 academic year. They recently circulated a flyer on the study of Latin among eighth graders and their parents at registration for high school. Lindsay Meck will be COSMO Girl magazine Girl of the Month for May in recognition of her crusade to bring Latin back to Talawanda High School--great publicity for her, her school, and for Latin!
I think that Lindsay Meck and Kathy Ellison are also appropriate recipients of the CAMWS Service Award.
--Thomas J. Sienkewicz, Chair, Committee for the Promotion of Latin