Certamen ICL Round One and Yale Recap
by Alex Perman
The Northside Certamen team had its first Certamen competition of the school year at round one of the Illinois Classical League event on November 7. The following weekend, the team traveled to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut for the annual Certamen competition there. The intermediate team members were Deena Al-Ali, Adv. 001, Richard Lam, Adv. 005, Gina Jagminas, Adv. 003, and Ruba Memon, Adv 006, Edewiss Ravell, Adv. 002, and Camille Roberts, Adv. 010. The advanced team members were Sahithi Gangavarapu, Adv. 907, Emma Williamson, Adv. 908, Kimberly Lu, Adv. 808, Madeline Meade, Adv. 808, Mindren Lu, Adv. 810, Younes Deiban, Adv. 907, Humayra Munshi, Adv. 903, and Vasim Patel, Adv. 904.
Certamen is usually played with a team of three to four students, each specializing in one of the specific categories of Latin trivia: Grammar, Mythology, History, and, for the upper teams, Roman Culture and Literature. The team is usually pitted against two other schools who are all competing to score the most points. Each team member is given a buzzer so that they can accurately measure who answers the questions first. Questions are first presented as “toss-ups,” in which any one of the three teams can buzz in to answer. Members may not give each other information while answering these types of questions. If an individual answers correctly, the team is issued a bonus question and the team members may deliberate with each other for a few seconds to ensure they have decided upon an answer. At the end of a round, the team who has scored the most points wins the round. In some cases, a team can still move on to the semifinals even if they do not score the highest in a round, but rather if they have scored enough points overall to qualify for the final rounds.
The assistant coach, Michael Fitzpatrick, Adv. 810, spoke of the team’s success at ICL round one. All teams that participated made first place which for the most part is expected of Northside certamen. However, the novice teams usually get second place due to their lack of experience in tournaments. According to Fitzpatrick, the teams made an extra effort to train leading up to their first competitions and performed exceptionally well for their tournament debut. The intermediate team faced an old rival, Loyola, and beat them by over 300 points over the course of three rounds.
After Northside’s blowout at ICL, they traveled to New Haven for the Yale competition. Vasim Patel of the advanced Certamen team talked about the highlights of the trip. The Northside teams woke up bright and early at 4:30 am in order to reach New York by 9 am.
On the day prior to the tournament, the group first toured the United Nations building in New York City and then went back to their hotel rooms to make final preparations for the following day.
The intermediate team did well in their preliminary rounds, making it to the semifinals, but ended up just barely losing to Boston Latin School by a mere five points.
The advanced team got second place in all of their preliminary rounds and reached the semifinals. According to Patel, the team started off strong but fell behind in the semifinal round. However, the team made a comeback and came within 15 points-- the equivalent of just one question--but unfortunately did not advance to the finals, putting them in eighth place. The other advanced team, despite winning most of their preliminary rounds, did not score enough points in each of those rounds to proceed to the semifinals.
Despite not finishing in the top spots, the group still very much enjoyed their time in New York City. They saw a Broadway musical called “Anastasia” and saw the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Overall, the teams did very well and will continue to train for their next major event, the Harvard Certamen Invitational. Patel said that he hopes the teams collaborate and practice with one another and believes that guided assistance across all levels of Certamen will be the key to victory. They remain positive and look forward to stomping the competition in future tournaments.