How do you say “refrigerator” in Latin? That’s not a word found in Cicero or Caesar’s writings, but it is an essential vocabulary word for speaking Latin. Knowing that the “amarium frigidarium” keeps food cold may not raise a student’s Latin grade, but it does make for a more enjoyable, and more complete, understanding of the language. Latin teacher Mr. David Bonagura ’99 decided to hold “Colloquia Aestiva,” or “Summer Conversations,” for Regis Latin students via Zoom for the four Mondays in June in order to facilitate this broader experience of the Latin language, with a special emphasis on helping students to speak Latin.
The format of the sessions was modeled after the active Latin seminars that Mr. Bonagura has participated in the last several years. Students encountered new vocabulary that is essential for everyday life: greetings, telling time, and housewares. Then students would, either in pairs or as a full group, engage in exercises that required them to use the new vocabulary in a creative manner. For the June colloquia, such exercises included writing a scene for the movies The Jungle Book and The Grinch, describing the physical characteristics of Hercules, and stating what one does upon rising from bed.
For Luke Mosca ’23, these exercises were educational and fun. “I enjoyed learning new Latin vocabulary and phrases and applying them with my peers through meaningful discussion questions.” His classmate Andrew Cimmino '23 agreed. “The Colloquia Aestiva meetings were a great way to practice my Latin skills from home and learn fun Latin words that I can now use in my everyday life. I can now impress my friends and family with the Latin words for different foods, parts of the body, animals and colors.”
The colloquia also spent time reading Latin related to the two liturgical solemnities celebrated this June: Corpus Christi, for which they sang the beautiful hymn “Lauda Sion” that was composed by St. Thomas Aquinas; and the celebration of Sts. Peter and Paul, for which students read in Latin Jesus’ entrusting Peter with the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and then narrated in Latin Perugino’s famous Sistine Chapel painting of this event.
The four sessions provided an engaging and lively forum for students to learn and enjoy Latin in a relaxed atmosphere. Henry Kolani ’23 was happy to learn new topics while building on the grammar skills he developed as a freshman: “I liked the Colloquia Aestiva because they helped me learn about different parts of Latin that we didn’t necessarily cover in class. It was also a great way for me to keep my Latin sharp over the summer.”
William Liao ’22 summed up the communal goal of the Colloquia in the midst of challenging times quite well. “We begin each Latin class with the following quote from Virgil: 'Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit' ('A joy it will be one day, perhaps, to remember even this'). This pandemic will end one day, and I will remember the things that have bound us as Regians during these challenging times. Latin summer Zoom meetings were a great way for us to come together to learn and have fun.”