For the fourth consecutive year, Kevin Donohue ’17 achieved the seemingly impossible: he earned a perfect score on the National Latin Exam.
The exam, sponsored by the American Classical League and the National Junior Classical League, is a 40-question, multiple-choice test with a time limit of 45 minutes, offered to students on seven levels. This year was the 40th annual administration of the exam, of which approximately 150,000 students were registered to take the test.
The mission of the National Latin Exam is to promote the study of Latin and to encourage the individual student. This year, less than 0.8% of test-takers earned a perfect score.
When asked about how his interest in Latin developed, Donohue explains that his exposure to Latin at Regis came about almost on a whim.
“I took Italian in middle school, and upon seeing it wasn’t offered for freshman year, I chose Latin. It was related to Italian, and I wanted to try something different. “I always had an interest in words, and I was thrilled to learn the roots of so many words in our language. I also got hooked on the grammar, where I saw some of the Italian in verb conjugations, as well as the delight from the pure grammar nerd inside me.”
In addition to the National Latin Exam, Donohue was a member of the Classics Club at Regis, participating in fun Latin-themed activities outside the classroom, such as playing Viginti Interrogationes (Twenty Questions) and practicing spoken Latin, culminating in a classically oriented field trip to the Bronx Zoo, Iter Zoologicum. He also attended Living Latin in New York City over February break, a two-day conference run by the Paideia Institute and hosted by Matthew McGowan ’89. At this year’s graduation ceremonies, Donohue was presented with The Hilbert Award in recognition of his excellence in the study of Classics during his four years at Regis.
“It felt like my freshman and sophomore year perfect scores were flukes, strokes of luck,” said Donohue.
“Once my junior year came along, I figured if I had come this far, I might as well go all the way. So I made sure to do a lot of the past tests, especially to nail some of the tricky culture questions that could trip you up. I attribute my success to my zeal for Latin, my assiduous preparation, and to a great deal of fortuna.”
Donohue notes that in the fall he will be attending Collegium Dartmuthense in Nova Hantonia.
“I love the Classics, and I will definitely be studying it in college in some capacity. However, I’m also interested in math, linguistics, and many other things, and I hope I can both explore my love of Latin as well as something else that really catches my eye without taking too many classes and collapsing in exhaustion,” added Donohue.
“What I’ve learned will definitely stick with me forever. The myths are true: my vocabulary is definitely improved, and my comprehension of English grammar has increased. My Catholic Church visiting experience is vastly improved by being able to read the walls, and seals of colleges aren’t shrouded in mystery.
“And I will never get tired of the experience of reading authors as they themselves wrote,” said Donohue. “Nothing stands up to Vergil’s original Aeneid or Cicero’s fiery, essentially Latin rhetoric.”