The First Penn Certamen!

Photo Credit: Clara Zhu

Penn Certamen -- a classics quiz bowl -- took place for the first time on Saturday, March 18, 2023, with 130 students competing at the Novice and Intermediate levels.

More than 30 teams came to campus for the day, from public, independent, and parochial schools in the Philadelphia area, as well as New Jersey, New York, and D.C.

The event was organized by students and faculty in Penn Classical Studies together with an energetic team of students and teachers from Harriton High School in the Lower Merion school district.

The day began with soft pretzels and a welcome in Latin ("Salvete, Certaturi") from Penn Classical Studies faculty member James Ker and words of wisdom from Penn undergraduate (and seasoned Certamen player) Maggie Yuan.

Students competed in three preliminary rounds followed by semifinals and finals -- a true marathon. All questions were student-written and the moderators and scorekeepers included numerous Penn student volunteers.

By the end of the day, over 60 students had visited the Penn Museum and six teams  competed in the final rounds for gold, silver, and bronze medals. The MVPs received copies of Homer's "Odyssey" personally signed by Penn faculty member Emily Wilson.

The success of the event is already fueling plans for the next Certamen as well as other events that will allow school students to visit Penn and allow the department to be more involved with local schools.

Special thanks go to Harriton students Lev Weitzman and Norah Mezey-McMahon and  Magistra Veronica Vladimirova-Cambria for taking the initiative, to Penn students Sunme Zhao and Olivia Lee and recent alumn Alicia Lopez '22 for their leadership, and to Elizabeth McFadden Campbell of the Penn Museum.

Penn Certamen was made possible by a generous donation to the Department of Classical Studies by Keith A.,C’83, and Alixandra Morgan.

Participating schools: BASIS DC, Bayonne High School, Boys' Latin of Philadelphia High School, Cardinal O'Hara High School, Central High School, Germantown Friends School, Harriton High School, The Haverford School, Hunter College High School, Radnor High School, Stuyvesant High School, Upper Dublin High School, and Welsh Valley Middle School.

Final round results, Novice level: Stuyvesant A (1st place), BASIS DC (2nd place), Cardinal O'Hara (3rd place). MVPs: 1st Stella Anderson (Stuyvesant) and 2nd Michael Brown (Cardinal O'Hara).

Final round results, Intermediate level: Hunter College A (1st place), Harriton A (2nd place), Harriton B (3rd place). MVPs: 1st Evan Schleck (Hunter College), 2nd Olivia Lee (Harriton A), and 3rd Dakota Lee (Hunter College).

(Photo Credit: Clara Zhu)