Not defined by our motto

By Chloe Lister

Possunt quia posse videntur.

We see these four ancient Latin words, meant to define our school, every day. After all, they are emblazoned across our school emblem, whether we notice them or not.

At the start of our Harvard-Westlake careers, we’re told these four words are translated as “they can because they think they can,” a noble phrase meant to instill confidence that we can do anything if only we put our minds to it. While that may not necessarily be entirely true, it is in fact a solid school motto that serves its purpose.

However, middle school Latin teacher John Corsello asked us to translate our school motto just as practice and we came to a startling revelation. It is not in fact translated as “they can because they think they can,” but as “they can because they seem to be able to.”

This is a notion that I’ve been turning around in my head ever since. Most of my classmates brushed it off as a funny mistake the administration had made, or something along those lines.

But, to me at least, it was more than that, because the real definition of our motto seems to perpetuate about our school: that we can go to any college we want because of our position at such a prestigious school, or that we all drive expensive cars and have anything and everything we want just because, looking at our school and all the opportunities we have here or because of our rather large tuition fees.

Has this piece of information profoundly affected how I think about our school? No, of course not. But it is a piece of information I continue to consider, because although it’s just a collection of words in a language no one even uses any more, in my opinion it reflects poorly on our school, no matter if that knowledge is restricted to that one fourth period Latin class.

I’m not calling for any kind of change to our school motto or anything like that, but rather that we look at ourselves and all the opportunities we’re given here at 3700 Coldwater Canyon, and do things not because we “seem to be able” to, but because we have activities that we are truly passionate about and want to pursue.