Latin students take part in S.C.R.A.M.

Will Sherwood

The annual Southern California Regional Amici Madness (S.C.R.A.M.) conference, the regional Junior Classical League (JCL) convention for Southern California, went fully virtual to provide students with Classical trivia, games, tests and more.

S.C.R.A.M. was held online this year through Discord and Zoom.

University High School in Irvine hosted S.C.R.A.M. 2020, boasting more than 20 activities during the daylong event. Schools across Southern California attended the event, which was organized through a combination of the chat app Discord and the video conferencing app Zoom.

World Languages Department Head Derek Wilairat attended the conference as a chaperone for the school. Wilairat said the experience immersed students from the school in the larger Classics community.

“It was nice to connect with students from other schools [and bond] over our shared study of Latin and the Classics,” Wilairat said. “I hope that the students enjoyed a bit of friendly competition.”

While organizers tried to recreate the in-person event to the best of their abilities, they were forced to make changes to the convention to ensure all of the activities could be held over Zoom. Wilairat said the S.C.R.A.M. organizers worked diligently to replicate the traditional activities of the conference.

Competitors enjoyed playing Certamen, even in a virtual format.

“It went about as well as can be expected, though Certamen, [a Latin quiz bowl-style trivia game], is probably more exciting in person,” Wilairat said. “In person, we play the game with a buzzer system. This year, it was done through Zoom, with students typing the word “buzz” to answer questions. It was the best approximation of the Certamen experience that we could manage under the circumstances.”

JCL Club co-leader Nicole Austen ’21 said the most popular activity at the convention is usually Certamen and said the execution of the game was a good approximation for the entire event.

“I had a lot of fun playing Certamen,” Austen said. “Sometimes the questions are too hard, or the virtual setting makes it awkward. But this time, a lot of the [Harvard-Westlake] students were together on teams, and even though I ended up on a different team, I got to play against my friends. Answering questions correctly is still satisfying, even over Zoom.”

This year, the conference offered fewer activities than usual.

Although limited compared to past years, S.C.R.A.M 2020 had activities ranging from Mythology Bingo to esports tournaments.

“I was surprised by how much there was to do,” S.C.R.A.M attendee Avery Konwiser ’22 said. “Since I was competing in Certamen for a lot of the time [during the conference], I didn’t get to do as many of the activities as I wanted, but there were games like Roman Jeopardy, Kahoot and academic seminars.”

Even though many of the usual activities were difficult to run perfectly online, students and teachers said they enjoyed the event and made the most of it.

“I think a lot of the time being virtual can suck the life out of things,” Konwiser said. “But it seemed like all the people there were genuinely having a good time and able to experience what would’ve otherwise been an amazing in-person event.”