Another Excellent NLE for the Latin Department

As Belmont Hill reaches the end of this centennial school year, it has strived to celebrate all aspects of this wonderful school. Over Belmont Hill’s 100 years of history, many important items have been accomplished, ranging in athletic, artistic, and academic achievements. April has been dedicated to celebrating 100 years of academic excellence at Belmont Hill. The National Latin Exam, a test given annually to Latin scholars across the country and world, is an excellent marker of the incredible academic success of Belmont Hill students. Taken just before March break, many see it as the last step before freedom from the third marking period. However, the NLE, despite its bland conception, has a rich history and has played huge roles at Belmont Hill. 

The NLE was created in 1976 at Georgetown University, after receiving a three-hundred dollar loan from the American Classical League (ACL) and National Junior Classical League (NJCL). The NLE’s mission has been to “promote and support the learning and teaching of the Latin language.” Its founders believed that by giving this test, they gave all Latin students around the globe a chance to experience a sense of personal achievement in the study of Roman culture and language. Hundreds of hours every year are spent creating each test, with a committee of over a hundred people. This committee strives to incorporate historical events from the time of Ancient Rome and delve deep into areas of Latin literature and culture in order to find intriguing and new information every year. By striving to make these tests not only based on Latin itself but on Rome’s origins and history, they propel the test takers, teachers, and college professors, to learn more about Latin’s rich and powerful history. 

In this past year, 100,000 students from all 50 states and 13 other countries worldwide took part in the test. 192 of which were from Belmont Hill. Of these students, 145, or 77%, of them received an award. 63 (32%), were awarded the highest achievement, Gold Summa Cum Laude. And to top it off, 9 students scored a perfect 100%. 8 boys obtained their fourth consecutive Gold Medal, earning the Maureen O’Donnell book prize from the ACL, the highest ever in one year according to Dr. Davis. Finally, the ACL gives out 20 college scholarships nationally per year, and in the past 8 years, Belmont Hill boys have earned this nine times, the highest rate nationally. To receive an award, students must first score over the national average, which is typically around 25 out of 40, and then enter the threshold for the awards. Ranging anywhere from 28 to 40 out of 40, these awards have given students at Belmont Hill something to try for. A big reason why students at Belmont Hill score so highly is solely because of Dr. Davis, Mr. Richards, Mr. Cofield, Mr. McDougal, and Mr. Davis and the rest of the Classics Department, who prepare the students well before test day. 


Although the NLE in many ways is seen as a tough test, it has influenced Belmont Hill traditions and classes in different ways; such as wearing togas to midterms and finals. During the last week of school before Winter and Summer break, students wear homemade togas as a way to show off their Latin expertise. In addition, some projects in Latin classes incorporate many topics on the NLE. One, in particular, is the Caesar News Project in Mr. Richards’s Latin 2A class. Students are given two weeks to film, edit, and create a brief newscast regarding the Gallic Wars, using the maker space and theater.


Latin studies are just one part of Belmont Hill’s diverse academic excellence in all areas of student life. Students over the last 100 years have thrived in Belmont Hill’s vigorous and exciting academic environment and will continue to make amazing new memories and traditions and learn new things through the future of this school.

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