A coeducational day school serving students JK-12

The deafening roar of students wildly cheering for their school. A fierce competition with confident displays of skill and mastery. Teammates huddled up, strategizing to achieve victory. Is it a Latin basketball or soccer tournament?

No! This is the annual middle school math competition, which celebrated its 20th year in January. Latin took over hosting duties from another school in 2000 and hasn’t looked back since. This half-day competition pits middle school students from nearly 20 schools in both individual and team contests. Each school can bring two teams of four people for each grade (fifth through eighth). The Saturday morning contest begins with a 50-minute individual round of nine questions. After a short break, the 45-minute team test begins, with students working together to answer eight questions. After a pizza lunch where the students kibbutz about the correct answers — and sometimes slap their foreheads when they realize their mistakes — everyone assembles in the theater for the awards ceremony, where medals, trophies, and plaques are presented.

Mathletes image 1

The event is the culmination of months of work by many people. “The administration certainly supports it in any way it can,” said Warren Hawley, a former math teacher and department chair at Latin, now retired, who spearheaded efforts in 2000 for Latin to host the competition. “There is total buy-in from the math department. They really see the value of it.”

Planning gets underway in November, when the math teachers attend a math retreat where they spend the entire day writing the individual test questions for each grade. “The process is very inter-divisionary,” said Eve Bonneau, middle school Math Department chair. “For example, the team working on the fifth grade contest may consist of teachers from all three divisions.” Bonneau said that each question needs to be grade-appropriate and sufficiently challenging for the students. The teachers write the problems in the morning, then spend the afternoon collaboratively solving and refining the problems, and tinkering with the language.

Even before the math retreat, Tom Canright, a seventh grade math teacher, writes the team questions during summer break, a task he took on in 2013 when Hawley retired. “It takes me about four or five hours a day for a full week to write those,” said Canright. “Then I send them to each grade’s math team for feedback. They have a month to critique the questions. Sometimes they fine tune them, but sometimes they don’t like what I’ve done and they throw out a question and substitute their own.” Canright also puts together an opening video with a medley of songs with math as a theme, proofreads all the questions during winter break, creates an answer key, runs the grading room and serves as master of ceremonies during the awards ceremony. Bonneau handles registration, classroom testing assignments, coordinates day-of-contest responsibilities for the math faculty, and obtains volunteer scorers and proctors.

Mathletes image 2

Students from Latin are selected based upon a number of factors. From November to March, students can participate
in Math Olympiad, where they take a monthly Olympiad test. Each teacher also gives a qualifying test. In addition, teachers look at student’s attendance during the weekly Math Club that meets for a half hour before school on Wednesday mornings. Bonneau and Canright select the sixth and seventh graders, respectively, based on a cumulative assessment of Olympiad test scores, Math Club attendance and qualifying test results, while Daley Chan, lower school math teacher, and Jessie Shorr, middle school math teacher, select the fifth and eighth graders, respectively.

The competition has evolved from its humble beginnings in 2000 when it hosted six other schools and used 10 classrooms to administer the contest. With the building of the middle school in 2007, Latin can now physically host more students. Since then, the event has filled to capacity and has a waiting list of 10 to 12 schools. “We’ve also had to up our game to make the questions more difficult,” said Bonneau, explaining that many more students do math as an extracurricular than in years past.

“The caliber of students has improved.” Canright agrees. “Every year I think the eighth grade questions are too hard, and every year the students rise to the occasion. Some students get perfect or near-perfect scores.”

What has made the math competition successful for so many years? Canright thinks the team component sets it apart.
“The team event makes it special. It’s unique to have teams from each grade rather than just the top eighth graders,” he said. “And the students have to learn to cooperate and learn to be quiet. They can’t just blurt out the answer, or the other teams will hear.”

Mathletes image 3

Bonneau likes that the competition is something that focuses on academics rather than athletics, which is readily and easily celebrated in most schools. “This gives an opportunity for students who enjoy math to experience an adrenaline rush,” she said. “It is really fun to see the kids get excited about an academic subject.”

Latin had one of its most successful outcomes for this year’s competition. With 275 students competing, Latin took first place in the fifth and sixth grade divisions. Bonneau was particularly pleased, especially given that many of the students who compete are from academically rigorous schools. “Most kids at Latin have a variety of interests. Our success this year shows that we can be successful in this type of competition as well,” she said.

Hawley still attends the event every year but now as a spectator. “It is amazing to see how it all comes together,” he said. “The teachers make it look seamless, but I know how much work goes into putting it together.”

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Mathletes Compete at Latin

The deafening roar of students wildly cheering for their school. A fierce competition with confident displays of skill and mastery. Teammates huddled up, strategizing to achieve victory. Is it a Latin basketball or soccer tournament?

No! This is the annual middle school math competition, which celebrated its 20th year in January. Latin took over hosting duties from another school in 2000 and hasn’t looked back since. This half-day competition pits middle school students from nearly 20 schools in both individual and team contests. Each school can bring two teams of four people for each grade (fifth through eighth). The Saturday morning contest begins with a 50-minute individual round of nine questions. After a short break, the 45-minute team test begins, with students working together to answer eight questions. After a pizza lunch where the students kibbutz about the correct answers — and sometimes slap their foreheads when they realize their mistakes — everyone assembles in the theater for the awards ceremony, where medals, trophies, and plaques are presented.

Mathletes image 1

The event is the culmination of months of work by many people. “The administration certainly supports it in any way it can,” said Warren Hawley, a former math teacher and department chair at Latin, now retired, who spearheaded efforts in 2000 for Latin to host the competition. “There is total buy-in from the math department. They really see the value of it.”

Planning gets underway in November, when the math teachers attend a math retreat where they spend the entire day writing the individual test questions for each grade. “The process is very inter-divisionary,” said Eve Bonneau, middle school Math Department chair. “For example, the team working on the fifth grade contest may consist of teachers from all three divisions.” Bonneau said that each question needs to be grade-appropriate and sufficiently challenging for the students. The teachers write the problems in the morning, then spend the afternoon collaboratively solving and refining the problems, and tinkering with the language.

Even before the math retreat, Tom Canright, a seventh grade math teacher, writes the team questions during summer break, a task he took on in 2013 when Hawley retired. “It takes me about four or five hours a day for a full week to write those,” said Canright. “Then I send them to each grade’s math team for feedback. They have a month to critique the questions. Sometimes they fine tune them, but sometimes they don’t like what I’ve done and they throw out a question and substitute their own.” Canright also puts together an opening video with a medley of songs with math as a theme, proofreads all the questions during winter break, creates an answer key, runs the grading room and serves as master of ceremonies during the awards ceremony. Bonneau handles registration, classroom testing assignments, coordinates day-of-contest responsibilities for the math faculty, and obtains volunteer scorers and proctors.

Mathletes image 2

Students from Latin are selected based upon a number of factors. From November to March, students can participate
in Math Olympiad, where they take a monthly Olympiad test. Each teacher also gives a qualifying test. In addition, teachers look at student’s attendance during the weekly Math Club that meets for a half hour before school on Wednesday mornings. Bonneau and Canright select the sixth and seventh graders, respectively, based on a cumulative assessment of Olympiad test scores, Math Club attendance and qualifying test results, while Daley Chan, lower school math teacher, and Jessie Shorr, middle school math teacher, select the fifth and eighth graders, respectively.

The competition has evolved from its humble beginnings in 2000 when it hosted six other schools and used 10 classrooms to administer the contest. With the building of the middle school in 2007, Latin can now physically host more students. Since then, the event has filled to capacity and has a waiting list of 10 to 12 schools. “We’ve also had to up our game to make the questions more difficult,” said Bonneau, explaining that many more students do math as an extracurricular than in years past.

“The caliber of students has improved.” Canright agrees. “Every year I think the eighth grade questions are too hard, and every year the students rise to the occasion. Some students get perfect or near-perfect scores.”

What has made the math competition successful for so many years? Canright thinks the team component sets it apart.
“The team event makes it special. It’s unique to have teams from each grade rather than just the top eighth graders,” he said. “And the students have to learn to cooperate and learn to be quiet. They can’t just blurt out the answer, or the other teams will hear.”

Mathletes image 3

Bonneau likes that the competition is something that focuses on academics rather than athletics, which is readily and easily celebrated in most schools. “This gives an opportunity for students who enjoy math to experience an adrenaline rush,” she said. “It is really fun to see the kids get excited about an academic subject.”

Latin had one of its most successful outcomes for this year’s competition. With 275 students competing, Latin took first place in the fifth and sixth grade divisions. Bonneau was particularly pleased, especially given that many of the students who compete are from academically rigorous schools. “Most kids at Latin have a variety of interests. Our success this year shows that we can be successful in this type of competition as well,” she said.

Hawley still attends the event every year but now as a spectator. “It is amazing to see how it all comes together,” he said. “The teachers make it look seamless, but I know how much work goes into putting it together.”

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Lower school students looking at a computer

In a world where students are spending a significant part of their school day online, it is now more important than ever to develop thoughtful and empathetic digital citizens from a young age. 

Fourth grade students are studying what it means to be a considerate digital citizen and maintain a positive digital footprint with Fiona Deeney, Latin’s lower school computer science and technology integration specialist. A digital citizen is someone who develops skills to responsibly use technology, including digital devices and online media platforms. When individuals share information online, they leave a digital footprint. A digital citizen is someone who develops skills to responsibly use technology, including digital devices and online media platforms.

After the students learned the basics of online safety and digital footprints, they were tasked with creating a graphic that encompassed these lessons. In order to complete the assignment, they researched a credible digital media platform to build their piece–Pic Collage was a popular option among the students.

Hear more about what it means to be a responsible digital citizen and how to manage a digital footprint from fourth grade students Colleen C. ’29 and Annabelle W. ’29.

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Jessie Heider

Get to know Jessie Heider who has been Latin's partner from Athletico and athletic trainer since 2010. In January, Jessie officially became the first full-time in-house athletic trainer at Latin. 

Education 

B.S. in Athletic Training - Purdue University
M.S. in Health Education & Promotion - University of Cincinnati

Position and years at Latin

Athletic Trainer - 10 years

Favorite Quote: 

"Today me will live in the moment, unless it's unpleasant, in which case me will eat a cookie." –Cookie Monster

What are your favorite things about Latin? 

There is such a close sense of community at Latin. One of my favorite things about working here is being able to connect with and get to know so many different people.

What are the best parts of your job? 

It’s rewarding to help kids through the rehabilitation process and then get to see them successfully return to their sport after experiencing an injury. I also love that every workday is different… it keeps me on my toes!

Why did you decide that you wanted to work at a school? 

I always found the idea of working at a school appealing because I knew it would give me the opportunity to be involved in so much more than just athletics. At Latin, I’m lucky enough to work with both athletics and our Latin 360 program. It’s also fun to be able to support our students in other ways, such as helping with senior projects or attending dance shows and plays.

What was the last good book you read? 

"American Dirt" by Jeanine Cummins

What are your hobbies and interests? 

I love spending time with my dog, Piper, playing fantasy football and following Purdue sports (Boiler Up!). I’m also excited to get back to traveling again once the pandemic is over.

What was your first job?

I worked as an Athletic Trainer for Women’s Lacrosse at the University of Cincinnati while in grad school, but working at Latin was my first “official” job after finishing school.

What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited? 

Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada

What's the best advice you've ever heard?

Be present. Try not to focus on what happened in the past or what will happen in the future. Enjoy the “now.”

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US Chess Team  in the Learning Commons during the State Final

On February 12-13, the upper school chess team competed virtually in the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) state finals and finished in first place in Division 1A.
The students who represented Latin were Waleed B. '21, Matthew S. '21, Mark M. '21, William F. '21, Eli E. '23, Anton S. '23, Collin D. '22, and Maxwell L. '23. The tournament took place online, but participating teams had to play from the same location—the Romans competed from the upper school's Learning Commons. This is the first time in Latin history that the Romans have won the division title.

ABOUT THE UPPER SCHOOL CHESS TEAM: This academic team meets four times a week for practice and competes in the Chicago Chess Conference composed of catholic schools, including St. Ignatius, St. Patrick, De La Salle, Marist, Br. Rice, etc. After the conference play, they compete in sectionals. Then if they qualify, they play in the state championships.  

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hopeful. Excited. Inspired. These are just some of the words that described the way students, faculty and staff felt after participating in the conversations and presentations during Latin’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Commemoration on Wednesday, January 20.

Upper school students began the morning at assembly with an inspirational rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson sung by Latin’s upper school chorus. 

The assembly was anchored by the amplification of student voices answering thought-provoking questions. Upper school affinity groups, including Black Student Union (BSU), Latin American Student Organization (LASO), Chronic Illness and Disability Alliance (CIDA), LGBTQ+ Affinity, Asian Student Alliance (ASA) and White Identities and Anti-Racism Affinity (WIAA), discussed their answers to the question, “What would an equitable and inclusive community look like at Latin?”

Learn more about Latin’s institutional goals and action steps for DEI from Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Eleannor Maajid in this episode of the Latin Learner Podcast. Co-Head of LASO and junior at Latin Caroline C. ’22 echoed the sentiment that many affinity groups offered in their reflection of the question: “An inclusive and equitable community to me acknowledges that from the start this institution might look very different to new incoming students but makes an effort to make everyone aware that their culture shouldn’t define whether they speak up in class or not or be given looks down the halls. No one should be told to tone down their culture.”

The student groups also answered these questions: “Why is it vital for students to be able to organize? How do equity-focused student groups improve community and hold them accountable?” The upper school’s Student Diversity and Equity Committee (SDEC) and Demanding Accountability groups provided insight into this area. SDEC is dedicated to fostering a safe, inclusive environment at Latin and promotes dialogue across all perspectives. Demanding Accountability is a group focused on holding the Latin community accountable for creating the space that the community says they want Latin to be.

These student groups noted that student organizing is important because they have a relevant perspective with insight into injustices that sometimes only students can see. Co-head of Demanding Accountability Kazi S. ’22 was quoted during the presentation, “When students aim for equity, we can be the prosperity of not only ourselves but everyone around us.” When students aim for equity, we can be the prosperity of not only ourselves but everyone around us.
Kazi S. '22, Co-head of Demanding Accountability

In continuing with the assembly’s theme of amplifying student voices some of the other student groups that presented included Student Government, Identity Coalition for Latin (ICFL), “Discourses” and “The Forum.” An inspirational morning concluded with remarks from English Teacher and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator Brandon Woods: “We stand ready to listen to you, to partner with you and most importantly, to be challenged by you. You have the ability to make change that you might not even know yourselves, so we stand ready to help you do that and for you to guide us and lead us.”

During the middle school assembly, Educational Consultant Dr. Derrick Gay leveraged Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s iconic "What Is Your Life's Blueprint?" speech to frame Latin’s 2020 I can practice peace.
I can try again, rather than give up.
I can care for my community. 
Mindful affirmations from the book "I Can Do Hard Things" by Gabi Garcia
Middle School Climate Assessment findings. "The idea was to invite you to reflect on your life's blueprint, meaning who you are, your actions, your behaviors, your legacy, your purpose and how we can link your purpose to creating a more inclusive school... a more inclusive world," Dr. Gay explained to the students. He also noted that this speech was written by Dr. King for middle school students. Hear more about the history behind the speech and listen to an excerpt.


In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., lower school students engaged in various peace-related activities during the month of January. They also participated in an all-lower school read of “I Can Do Hard Things” by Gabi Garcia. As part of the MLK Day commemoration, students selected a personal photograph or designed an affirmation poster that connected to one of the following lines from the book:

  • “I can practice peace.” What is something peaceful you do for yourself or for others?
  • “I can try again, rather than give up.” What is something challenging (a “hard thing”) that you are learning to do or have learned to do? 
  • “I can care for my community.” What is something that reflects a way that you contribute to or care for your community?

At the lower school assembly, students listened to Dr. Gay read “I Can Do Hard Things” and then watched a video featuring the photos and student work.

Lower school students

Although the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Commemoration at Latin looked much different this year than in years past, students, faculty and staff found a sense of hope, excitement and inspiration from the day’s events.

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