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National Junior Classical League

The National Junior Classical League (National JCL or NJCL) is a youth organization of secondary school students sponsored by the American Classical League (ACL).[2][4] Founded in 1936,[4] the NJCL comprises more than 1,000 Latin, Greek and Classical chapters in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom,[4][5] and with over 45,000 members,[3] is the largest Classical organization in the world today.[4] Its mission: "to encourage an interest in and an appreciation of the language, literature and culture of ancient Greece and Rome and to impart an understanding of the debt of our own culture to that of classical antiquity."[1] The current NJCL National Committee Chair is Mrs. Catherine Sturgill of Williston High School in Williston, Florida.

NJCL official emblem[1]
Abbreviation National JCL, NJCL[2]
Formation 1936[2]
Type Educational, service
Legal status Non-profit
Purpose Classical studies
Headquarters Miami University
422 Wells Mill Drive
Oxford, Ohio 45056
  • USA
Coordinates 39°30′17.75″N 84°44′59.50″W / 39.5049306°N 84.7498611°W / 39.5049306; -84.7498611
Region served
1st Vice-President
2nd Vice-President
Comm. Coord.
Committee Chair
Mark Bechtold
Tim Han
Collin Kane
Lynn Ahrens
Sarah Lee
Jade Woods
Mrs. Catherine Sturgill
Parent organization
American Classical League
Affiliations National Senior Classical League

NJCL official colors are Roman purple and gold.



The idea of creating a junior organization to the American Classical League was first proposed in 1927 at the organization's annual meeting. A committee was appointed to study the matter, but it decided two years later that it wouldn't be worth pursuing at the time. In 1936, a pin was made and lifetime membership cost thirty cents, as it was decided to pursue the creation of a junior organization. The Junior Classical League was announced in November 1936 in Classical Outlook, with headquarters being established at New York University.[6]

Today, chapters exist in the United States, Canada, and Australia and has over 50,000 members.[7]

National ConventionEdit

2011 General Assembly at Eastern Kentucky University, looking at convention participants

The NJCL hosts a week-long national convention annually at a college campus in late July or early August, where 1200–1500 students compete in academic tests, graphic and creative arts competitions, and meet many classics students from around the country.[4][5][8]

Other components of the convention in which students may participate include Certamen, seminars commonly known as Colloquia, and Ludi (literally "games"—various athletic and recreational events). A theme for the following year's convention is chosen by the incoming president each year.[8]

Most state-level NJCL chapters hold their own annual conventions at locations central to their attendees, where schools compete in varied events. These events are divided into academic levels for scoring purposes; participation can be countywide, regional, or even statewide. Awards are given out to schools based on sweepstakes points, earned by placing high in competitive events.[5][9]

A popular event is the talent show, known as That's Entertainment!, always held on the night before the final farewell dance. It consists of skits put on by the NSCL between the individual acts, and since around 1985, a final surprise performance from a group of three mysterious men in suits and sunglasses, called the Racketeers (for the matching red tennis racket bags they wear on their heads), who walk on stage, perform a silent dance routine, and walk off.



Certamen is a quiz bowl game with questions about Greek and Roman mythology, Roman history, life, and literature, and Latin vocabulary, grammar, derivatives, and use in English. The National winners from 2017 of Certamen were from San Antonio, Texas. At the National Convention, there is competitive certamen and open certamen for players who just want to have fun.[5][8]

Academic contestsEdit

There are sixteen written tests that JClers may compete in at National Convention.[8]

These tests include grammar and reading comprehension by level, (i.e. Level 1 Latin, Level 2, Advanced (3 and up)). For the fourteen other tests, all take the same test but are ranked by level. These tests are Latin Vocabulary, Latin Derivatives, Latin Literature, Roman History, Ancient Geography, Roman Private Life, Mythology, Greek Life and Literature, Hellenic History, Mottoes (and Abbreviations/Quotations), Greek Derivatives, Classical Art, Academic Heptathlon, and Academic Decathlon. Classical Art and Academic Decathlon are taken separate from other tests, due to the relative specialization and difficulty. In 2017, Classical Art was taken during one of the normal testing sessions.

Graphic artsEdit

JCL delegates can submit artwork in various categories for contest judging.[8]

Creative artsEdit

Creative Arts at National Convention include Sight Latin Reading, Costume Contest, Latin and English Oratory, and Dramatic Interpretation.[8]


Olympika are athletic events at National Convention. There are Olympika in swimming, track & field, and marathon.[8]


Ludi are events for which sweepstakes points are not awarded. There are Ludi in chess, soccer, ultimate frisbee, basketball, and volleyball which will replace kickball starting with the 2013 convention.[8]

National officersEdit

At each National Convention, JCL delegates elect student officers. Each state may only field one candidate each year, and never for a position whose incumbent is from the same state. The offices are President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Communications Coordinator, Parliamentarian, Historian, and Editor. Voting is typically conducted by school in each state, with delegates casting two votes (for or abstention), with the exception of a delegation of only one JCLer, in which case only one vote is allowed.

2017-2018 NJCL Student Officers

Office Name State
President Mark Bechthold Wisconsin
1st Vice-President Timothy Han New Hampshire
2nd Vice-President Collin Kane Florida
Communications Coordinator Lynn Ahrens Ohio
Parliamentarian Sarah Lee Tennessee
Historian TBD TBD
Editor Jade Woods Louisiana

State chaptersEdit

As of 2010, forty-seven U.S. states, the District of Columbia, three Canadian provinces, and the United Kingdom each maintain a state (or state-level) chapter of the NJCL; the current total number is 51 as Washington state and British Columbia share a chapter.[3] Many chapters hold their own annual State Convention in addition to the National Convention.


Torch: U.S. is the NJCL's official publication, which details the events of the organization, reports scores, and issues stories. Published four times a year, the only issue sent to all convention attendees (including non-subscribers) is the fall issue, shortly after convention.

Until October 2007, the NJCL also published JCL Highlights in months when the Torch: U.S. was not published. JCL Highlights publicized administrative details about the League, including details about applying for JCL scholarships, information about the upcoming Convention, and requests for information from NJCL officers and national committee members. According to the Fall 2007 Torch: U.S., the National Committee decided at the October 2007 Fall Planning Meeting to eliminate the JCL Highlights in favor of online distribution of the same information.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Constitution and Bylaws of the National Junior Classical League" (PDF). National Junior Classical League. Retrieved October 17, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c "Chapter Handbook: National Junior Classical League" (PDF). National Junior Classical League. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 24, 2009. Retrieved March 14, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "National Junior Classical League State Chapters". National Junior Classical League. 2010. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Whitehead, Paul N. (July 27, 2007). "Ancient culture is hip during Junior Classical League convention". The E.W. Scripps Co. Retrieved March 26, 2010. The NJCL, an international society with more than 50,000 members from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, was formed in 1936 with a mission to encourage an interest in and an appreciation of the language, literature and culture of ancient Greece and Rome... sponsored by the American Classical League, works with junior high and high school students, and is the worlds largest classical organization. 
  5. ^ a b c d Flaherty, Julie (November 27, 1998). "In America's Schools, Latin Enjoys a Renaissance". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved March 26, 2010. ... the National Junior Classical League, a confederation of Latin clubs... Students at state and national conventions don bedsheet togas, compete in 'Jeopardy'-style classics quizzes and eat grapes at Roman-style banquets. 
  6. ^ Schearer, Susan. "58 Years of NJCL Convention 1954-2011". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  7. ^ "About Us". National Junior Classical League. 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Price, Catherine (October 9, 2005). "In a Classical World, Nerds Walk With Gods". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved March 26, 2010. Every year the Junior Classical League organizes a national convention that draws students for five days... This summer the convention... assembled 1,424 students and organizers to compete in sports, costume shows, oratory contests and a classics-theme trivia game called Certamen, a version of Jeopardy with questions about grammar, mythology, history and culture. 
  9. ^ Pope, Jeff (March 21, 2009). "Latin lovers gather at convention". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved March 26, 2010. ... this weekend at the Nevada Junior Classical League Convention. 
    • Guo, David (July 1, 2007). "Carpe trophy! Frosh lead team to win". PG Publishing Co., Inc. Retrieved March 26, 2010. ...facing North Allegheny's Junior Classical League team as it sought its 10th straight title at Penn State University May 25–27. 
    • Pilarczyk, Jamie (April 29, 2009). "Latin teacher wins award". Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. Archived from the original on May 2, 2009. Retrieved March 26, 2010. At the April 18 Florida Junior Classical League State Latin Forum, his students placed second in the state in the junior division. 

External linksEdit