When it comes to the Ontario Student Classics Conference, Mark Timmins, Department Coordinator for Latin at UTS, says finishing first is far from the most important measure of success. Mark believes that simply by participating in the massive competition based on the cultures of Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, UTS students and their fellow competitors from other schools achieve an important victory.
“The fact that we can share this with other schools helps to keep something uncommon alive,” Mark says.
In modern society, the study and use of the Latin language is indeed uncommon. Yet it’s a well-established tradition at UTS, embodied by the Classics Contingent that works together for almost an entire year in preparation for the annual Conference in May. The Classics Conference executive is recruited in the spring of the previous academic year, the rest of the team is assembled after Club-O-Rama, and all—including Mark and his colleague Chris Carswell—commit hours to the cause.
Throughout the year, Classics Conference team members attend meeting, participate in practice competitions and train for events in the academic, creative and athletic spheres. Among the highlights at the Conference are fashion shows and skits based on Greco-Roman themes and a chariot race. Throughout the year, an ever-increasing mass of models, mosaics and other creative work of classical provenance generated for the Conference are displayed in Room 203 and all along the hallway in showcases. These are highly appreciated at Open House by visitors. From May to June, the Classics Society erects another showcase of classical artefacts in our school display built in the UTS foyer.
“There are a lot of activities the students put their heart and soul into the whole year,” Mark says.
This year, the efforts of the Classics contingent led by Shuli Jones and Marcus Forbes-Green culminated in an outstanding showing at the 50th Ontario Student Classics Conference. Engaging in friendly competition against students from 18 schools across the province, UTS earned first place in the Academic category, second in Creative, and several victories in individual swimming and track and field events.
With such great results across the board, our students managed to capture first place overall—the 23rd consecutive victory for UTS at the Classics Conference. However, as Mark, who has been teaching Latin for 15 years at UTS, would say, the outcome is less important than the process.
After all, preserving a school win streak may be impressive, but preserving ancient languages and cultures is an even more meaningful achievement.