Montrose Makes History in the World of Junior Classical League

Gabriella Dansereau ‘26 (left), and I, Kristina Klauzinski (right), posing with our well-fought-for awards (brought back some hardware for Montrose… yay!)

Kristina Klauzinski '24

Gabriella Dansereau ‘26 (left), and I, Kristina Klauzinski (right), posing with our well-fought-for awards (brought back some hardware for Montrose… yay!)

On March tenth, the Montrose Junior Classical League chapter made history, winning their first-ever Certamen. Junior Classical League, better known as JCL, is similar to a trivia team, pertaining to all things Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece from translating and grammar to mythology, history and culture. JCL teams compete against other schools in groups of up to four people in Certamens (Latin for “competition”), and they compete in either the novice, intermediate, or advanced level. Each team competes in three preliminary rounds, each of which has three teams up against each other. The top three teams in each level move on to the final round, and compete for first, second, and third place. Each preliminary round consists of twelve “toss-up questions,” with the final round having twenty. These toss-up questions can be answered by any player on any team. To answer, one must hit their buzzer and answer within the next ten seconds. Each question is worth ten points and if one answers a question correctly, then the team gets two bonus questions that are each worth five points. 

On this day, we were competing at Boston Latin School which has one of the best Latin programs and also, one of the best, most competitive JCL squads; they are known for annihilating their competition at every Certamen that they attend. This Certamen was supposed to take place on February fourth. However, due to the extreme cold that came on that day, the Certamen was rescheduled to March eleventh. For our team, this meant that many intending to go to this Certamen were now unable to go. This left one team to represent Montrose, competing in the intermediate division: Madison Li ‘24, Gabriella Dansereau ‘26, and myself. 

Early Saturday morning, we arrived at Boston Latin School alongside our Latin teacher and JCL coach, Mrs. Demirjian. After meeting in the cafeteria, all teams made their way to the auditorium for the beginning of the Certamen. After climbing around four flights of stairs in the never-ending Boston Latin School building, we finally made it to the auditorium. As we looked around at the elaborate art that adorned the auditorium walls, our nerves began to get greater and greater. 

Soon, it was time to make our way to our first classroom in which our first preliminary round would take place (coincidentally, the schedule had us in the same room for all preliminary rounds… haha). Nervous, and certainly outnumbered by the teams of four that sat before us, the first round began. Due to the fact that there were only three intermediate teams in attendance, the intermediate and novice teams were mixed for the preliminary rounds, and while up against two novice teams, Montrose was able to coast to a win in the first round.

Montrose’s intermediate team, (left to right) Gabriella Danswereau ‘26, Kristina Klauzinski ‘24, and Madison Li ‘24, holding their buzzers, ready for the first preliminary round of the Certamen (Kristina Klauzinski ’24)

In the second round, up against two other teams, Montrose was able to get a second win. However, this one was a lot closer than the first, as the team from Oak Middle School was a truly talented one. 

The third round was when we faced our first intermediate opponent, from Dover High School (not to be confused with Dover-Sherborn High School, this team was actually from Dover, New Hampshire). While we kept it close the entire time, Dover was able to take off, and beat us by thirty points, giving us second place in the round. Despite that, this was the first round that I was able to get an answer correct – yes, I did know the answer to many questions before, however, I could never hit my buzzer in time – shoutout to Gabriella for beating me to the buzzer on every question. This question was, “which state has the Latin motto ‘excelsior?’” Without even thinking, I hit my buzzer, knowing that the correct answer was New York. 

With only three teams in the intermediate round, we knew that we were going to automatically make it to the finals. With Madison having to depart due to other plans, it left Gabriella and me to try and make Montrose history. Due to plans, Mrs. Demirjian had to depart as well. The Certamen took a short lunch break, which was when Gabriella, myself, and our mothers, sat and truly took in how crazy it was that we were the first Montrose JCL team to make it to the finals of a Certamen. 

After the final round for the novice level, which Boston Latin School won in a landslide, it was our turn to compete. We were up against Boston Latin School, and Dover High School. Unlike the preliminary rounds, this round took place on the auditorium stage, which was nerve-racking itself. Also unlike the other rounds, we had to introduce ourselves by first and last names on the microphones, which was actually a bit terrifying. 

Now severely outnumbered, being the only team of two, competing against two teams of four, the final round began. Although Dover got the first question right, putting them in the lead, we were able to pull ahead by twenty points. After that, however, Dover came roaring back and pulled ahead. Then we pulled ahead once again. Eventually, Dover was ahead of us by thirty points, and after a dramatic beginning to our comeback, we were able to tie it up, and then we were able to pull ahead by ten points. With one question left, we were up by thirty points, meaning that we had sealed the deal. We ended up winning by twenty points, as Dover answered the final question correctly, but was unable to answer either bonus question. 

At the end of the Certamen, Montrose proudly received the first-place trophy. Along with that, Gabriella won the well-deserved MVP award for the intermediate division. Overall, it was a very fun, academically-enriching day, which was capped off with a win that helped to make Montrose history, and I can’t wait for the next Certamen!

Kristina Klauzinski ’24, Co-Sports Editor