The Board of Ed received a lesson on morality, straight from the first century B.C. The teachings were delivered — in Latin — by a New Haven high school student.
Sudhakar Nuti (pictured) gave a recitation of Odes 1.22, by the ancient Roman poet Horace, at a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday evening. The recital was part of a special ceremony in celebration of New Haven student achievement in world language learning.
There were multiple causes for the celebration, which took place in front of a packed crowd in the second-floor meeting room at 54 Meadow St. Nuti was one of 50 students to receive an award for participation in the 2008 Connecticut Council of Language Teachers (COLT) Poetry Contest. Students were also recognized for the publication of their writings in a Spanish-language magazine. Furthermore, New Haven students were honored for their high marks on state and national language tests (pictured). One of these was Aaron Isenstadt, who has earned a perfect score on the national Latin exam for two years in a row.
Nuti won first place in his division at the April 9 COLT competition for his recitation of Odes 1.22, in which Horace argues that a person with correct moral conduct will be protected from danger.
"The upright man is safe," Horace writes, "no matter where he roams."
Nuti said that he chose the poem over another one, by Cicero, that has a military theme.
Nuti, who is a junior in the Health Science program at Career, aims to become a doctor. He said that he values Latin for its "correlation with modern English" and because so many of the terms in anatomy and physiology are in Latin. Originally from India, Nuti also speaks Telegu and Hindi and is a member of the French Honor Society at Career.
Amira Brown (pictured), a Betsy Ross student who took third place in her division at the COLT competition, recited a poem in Mandarin Chinese, a new language offering in New Haven public schools as of this year. New Haven schools also teach French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, and Arabic.
Chinese is currently offered only at Betsy Ross, where the class is so popular that it has a waiting list, said Karen de Fur, New Haven's supervisor of world languages. She said that there are plans to expand the Chinese language program to four more schools next year, with the assistance of two guest teachers arriving from China in August.
There are also plans to expand New Haven's Arabic language program to more schools. Arabic and Chinese were two languages identified as "critical" by the National Security Department, explained de Fur. "We're trying to prepare students to live and work in a global economy," said de Fur. She explained that the planned expansion will build on an already strong program.
New Haven's world language program serves 6,500 students, making it the largest in the state of Connecticut. There are two reasons New Haven has "such a wonderful language program," said de Fur. The first is the "exceptionally dedicated world language teachers" in the city's schools. The second is Superintendent Reginald Mayo's enthusiastic support of world language learning.
De Fur was proud to announce that New Haven will host next year's COLT poetry competition. Over 1200 students from around the state will gather at Wilbur Cross High School on April 7 2009. The event is sure to include more messages from ancient Rome.