Recipients of the CAMWS Special Service Award have made special contributions to the promotion of Latin and Classical Studies in CAMWS territory. They need not be classicists or CAMWS members. Suitable candidates can be parents, community members, or school administrators who have supported local Latin programs in notable ways, or companies that have donated money or other resources for the promotion of Latin.
This year's recipients fit the mold perfectly: whereas Latin is uncommon in publicly funded high schools in the province of Manitoba, Principal George Heshka, Ms. Kristin Peterson, and Ms. Lindsay Welbers of Sisler High School in Winnipeg have taken the bold step of launching a pilot program aimed at installing a multi-year sequence of Latin instruction as the bedrock of a Classics department.
The progress of the project has been impressive. In the fall of 2012, the school's ambitious 'accelerated program' added a section of Introductory Latin to its schedule, in which the thirty-six 'accelerated' grade nine students were automatically enrolled. Concurrently, a small section of Introductory Latin for five ambitious grade twelve students was undertaken, three of which are on the verge of challenging for University credit in Latin.
Enrollment seems likely to explode in the fall of 2013: approximately the same number (ca. thirty-five) of incoming 'accelerated' grade nine students will again begin Introductory Latin, while more than half of the first 'accelerated' cohort have opted to continue their study of the language in grade ten. Moreover, forty-one grade eleven students and nine grade twelve students have elected to begin Introductory Latin, as well. Nor is the growth of Classical studies limited to the language: a class in mythology has been added for 2013-2014, which is likely to enroll nearly one hundred students.
The momentum of the Sisler Latin program suggests that within a few years, the desired multi-year cycle of Latin stretching from grades nine to twelve will be firmly established. And because Latin at the grade nine level is currently only available to the select students in the school's 'accelerated' program, the potential for further growth once it is offered more widely is vast.
While faculty members in the local universities' Classics Departments are thrilled to support the pilot project in Latin, the credit for its installation and success lies with three recipients of this award. The driving force for the project as a whole is the school's head of English, Ms. Kristin Peterson, whose passion and determination to add Latin to the curriculum is manifest in the very existence of these classes. She and Ms. Lindsay Welbers deserve plaudits for taking on the responsibility of teaching these new classes. No less deserving is Principal George Heshka, who has taken the initiative to support a bold and risky project, at a considerable cost to Sisler's institutional and human resources. We commend the effort of these educators and support their vision as they endeavor to enrich their schools with the Classics.