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ISSUE 120 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/20/2007

Three receive classics awards

By Lauren Radomski
Variety Editor

Friday, April 20, 2007

Three St. Olaf students have placed in this year’s Maurine Dallas Watkins contests, an annual competition sponsored by Eta Sigma Phi, the national classics honor society. The contests, designed for students in intermediate or advanced Greek and Latin courses, test the translation skills of students around the country.

St. Olaf’s award recipients, all classics majors, won a total of four prizes in this year’s competition. Thomas Halvorsen ‘10 placed second in the Latin Prose Composition Contest, which required him to translate a short passage about Internet piracy from English into Latin. Elizabeth Beerman ‘07, who placed in a previous competition, won first prize in the Advanced Latin Translation Contest. Jennifer Starkey ’07, also a previous winner, placed second in the Advanced Greek Translation Contest and third in the Advanced Latin Translation Contest.

Each participant in the competition completed the written exams in February and sent their entries to a national distribution center, which sent entries to by judged anonymously by professors at universities around the country.

According to Professor of Classics Anne Groton, the Watkins Contests give students the opportunity to apply their skills outside of the classroom. “It’s nice because our students get a chance to see how they do against students in other parts of the country,” she said, adding, “It’s a credit to our students that they want to put what they’re studying into practice.”

Halvorsen, Beerman and Starkey are members of a long line of successful St. Olaf competitors in the Watkins Contests. St. Olaf has boasted at least one winner every year since 1980, giving it the best contest record in the country. This year, St. Olaf was the only school to win more than three prizes.

About 50 students take part in Delta Chi, St. Olaf’s chapter of Eta Sigma Phi. Groton said that while majors go on to work in many fields, the skills they gain studying classics last a lifetime. “It does tend to make you more of a reflective person, with a carpe diem philosophy,” she said.

Starkey called classics “the quintessential liberal arts major,” since it incorporates the study of literature, philosophy, science and architecture, among other areas. Beerman, who will attend law school at the University of Michigan next fall, said that the study of classics, like law, involves “the same principle of taking in a lot of stuff and trying to figure out how to deal with it.”

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