June 22, 2010

The Amherst Club

June 22, 2010


The consensus, expressed by Cynthia Brubaker and others who suffered through high school Latin, was that if we had had Sean Smith as our teacher, we would have loved the subject and also sensed the wonder of having a passion for a language and a culture.  Sean grew up in Amherst and was himself inspired by the legendary Betty Jane Donley to become a teacher of Latin at Amherst Regional High School in 1984.  Since then he has taught other subjects and is currently the head of the Language Department.

Sean traced the trajectory of Latin in Amherst from the days of the Amherst Academy (whose trustees still offer a Latin prize) through the long tenure of Miss Donley to the present, when Latin is one of the four languages to be offered next year. (Russian and German will be dropped due to low enrollment.)  The program's emphasis is on reading for comprehension, although grammar is by no means neglected.    The prize for perseverance is reading Catullus and Virgil at the end of the program.  Catullus, to today's students, feels contemporary.  Sean read a very brief poem, "Odo et Amo", to demonstrate why.  And Virgil introduces a very human hero, Aeneas, whose passion for Dido competes with his sense of duty and mission.  Sean's presentation was marvelous.

Chris Blauvelt brought his daughter, Heather,  just graduated from college, to enjoy the program today.

Cynthia Brubaker announced that the Survival Center really needs peanut butter, tuna fish and pasta during these summer days when kids are out of school.  Nancy Brose volunteered to take our weekly collection of goods to the Survival Center, for which the Club owes her a debt of gratitude/

Ellen Kosmer reminded us that the Club has recently decided on a project of making school kits for young students who could use this kind of support.  Club members interested in participating in this project can get in touch with Ellen or with Nancy Gregg, who is chairing this project.

Crolyn Holstein reminded members of the annual garden walk in support of the Amherst History Museum this Saturday.  Bonnie Isman urged members to go to www.joneslibrary.org to complete a brief survey that will help the library set its long-range priorities.  Vivienne Carey  announced the performance of a new play, "The Gravedigger's Gift," by local playwright Steve Henderson at the Renaissance Center this weekend, but she was too shy to announce the opening of Hampshire Shakespeare Company's "Hamlet" in which she plays the part of Queen Gertrude.

This meeting was Larry Siddall's last as president of the Club.  On behalf of the Club, Vivenne presented him with several gifts, and the Club cheered him for the splendid leadership he has provided.

Reminder:  There is no meeting next week, since it is the fifth Tuesday of the month.


Michael Greenebaum, Note-taker