Fairmont Preparatory Academy sophomore Alexisse Yoo has turned her passion of the Latin language into more than a mere hobby — in fact, she’s even let the love of the language become something that helps her win competitions.
Yoo has always loved to read, and her appreciation for Latin was sparked at a young age when her mother gave her a Greek mythology book.
“I enjoyed it so much that I just kept consuming everything that I could related to Greek and Roman culture,” she said. “That eventually led me to develop an interest in learning the language, as well.”
It was not until the summer of 2017, however, that Yoo truly put her passion into action when she attended a summer camp with the Paideia Institute for Humanistic Study, a nonprofit educational organization that seeks to promote the study and appreciation of the classical humanities, specifically focusing on Latin and Ancient Greek languages and literature. The camp she attended took place in Rome and revolved around living Latin and speaking Latin, which allowed her to immerse herself in community with others and become more involved.
When she returned to Fairmont Prep at the beginning of the school year, she was inspired to found a Junior Classical League (which aims to encourage students to appreciate ancient Greek and Roman language, literature, and culture) chapter on campus. Her branch of the JCL currently has eight members and is looking to grow.
In Southern California, in general, the number of students who share this interest are rather large. Yoo said she attended the Southern California Regional Amici Madness (S.C.R.A.M.) convention earlier this year with nearly 800 students from 35 different schools.
“I was never really aware that there was such a huge Latin community,” Yoo said. “It was surprising, but it’s a really great feeling to be able to learn and explore my passion with other students around my age who also have that passion.”
Last month, Yoo put that passion to practice as she competed in the California Regional Certamina Rounds (CARCER), which is the qualifier for the semifinal Certamen rounds at the California JCL State Convention. She notched third place overall in Southern California in her level and sixth overall in the state — a tremendous performance that qualified her for the state-level competition this weekend at the Menlo School in Atherton, California.
While she enjoys contending against other students and looks forward to representing Fairmont among the many other students, having opportunities of this sort means much more to her than merely bringing home hardware.
“I enjoy competition, but I really also like the interactive and community part of it, as well,” Yoo said. “All of my life, I’ve been learning Latin and exploring my passion in this vacuum, and it’s such a great feeling to know that there are people who share this — there’s more to this than just a lone solitary study.”
Yoo, who has been attending Fairmont Private Schools since she was in kindergarten, said that she is grateful that Fairmont has supported throughout her entire journey as a student and has encouraged her to pursue her own unique interests.
“Fairmont has always been really good about helping me develop my passions and helping me to be ambitious in wanting to go for everything and following the path that I want to,” she said. “I think that the flexibility that they have and the way that Fairmont tries to help everyone do what they want is really amazing.”