Day in the Life of a JCL competitor


Abigail Poag

Students gathered in the gym for the volleyball competition.

Laney Chang and Abigail Poag


11:05 a.m.

Abigail Poag: Settle down in my spot on the bus and get excited because long bus rides are fun. Also, there’s free WiFi.

Laney Chang: Slightly panic at the fact that Abigail, Amelia Schueppert, Jenny Green and I chose seats behind Latin teacher Kim Dickson and my mom, who chaperoned the trip. Pray that my mom doesn’t tell Ms. Dickson anything too embarrassing…  

12:45 p.m.

Abigail: Experience that partly giddy, partly surreal feeling that could only come from walking into a Buc-ee’s. Get temporarily overwhelmed by the large selection of foods before honing in on the Dippin’ Dots. Proceed to eat my Dippin’ Dots before lunch like the mature Upper School student I am.

Laney: Become extremely conflicted over the flavor of Dippin’ Dots available. Cookies n’ Cream? Or maybe Brownie Batter. Decide to order whatever Abigail gets. Cookies n’ Cream it is! I can totally make my own decisions.

1:10 p.m.

Abigail: Decide that I can’t put off studying any longer and start frantically going through Quizlets. Get distracted by cows on the side of the road and spend the next ten minutes looking out the window.

Laney: Step back on the boredom contraption and feel guilty about not studying on the bus. Find out that there is this kid named Timothy Reynolds who has consistently gotten first place in Latin Derivatives, and he’s in my level of Latin. Then play cards instead with Amelia and Jenny while Abigail is being productive. (If I study, I’ll get nauseous, okay? I’m not procrastinating!)

Abigail Poag
Freshmen Amelia Schueppert (left) and Laney Chang (right) play cards during one of their breaks.

3:30 p.m.

Abigail: Decide to climb up the five flights of stairs to our room because I’m too lazy to wait in line for the elevator. Get lost trying to find the stairs and wander around the hotel lobby for a while.

Laney: Loudly complain about waiting for our room keys and being tired of standing still and not moving around. Immediately regret my words as I pant while hauling my bag up the stairs.

6:00 p.m.

Abigail: Sit amongst thousands of Texas Latin students in the gym at Naaman Forest High School in Garland. Watch as a school in the opposite bleachers tries to start a human wave while others compete to create a human pyramid. A Latin convention is an interesting place.

Laney: Cram in my studying for the Pentathlon that I most definitely finished on the bus. Look up the different types of togas and the Roman Kings while trying to recall a long lost acronym from sixth grade.

7:30 p.m.

Abigail: Finish taking the Pentathlon and fangirl about the Catullus reference on the test with my friends. Fight our way through the crowds of hungry teenagers to the cafeteria, where Ms. Dickson hands us food boxes.

Laney: Mentally tell myself that I did not fail the Pentathlon. Oh, who am I kidding. I failed it. But at least I got Catullus’ “odi et amo” phrase!

8:30 p.m.

Abigail: Wait in the Dramatic Interpretation holding room and try to remember the 16 lines of the “Aeneid” I had in theory memorized for this event.

Laney: Wander around the hallways with Jenny and Amelia, trying to find the Dramatic Interpretation holding room. Casually walk by the room and peek inside without Abigail realizing but fail miserably. Pray I didn’t make her nervous!

9:45 p.m.

Abigail: Get off to a good start but then promptly forget my place in the poem and skip over four lines. Hope the judges won’t take off too many points.

Laney: Start grading my Pentathlon, on which I circled my answers before bubbling in the scantron. Find out that I was right! Right about doing terribly. Oh well, maybe I still got “Cum Laude.”



12:05 a.m.

Abigail: Work on an online crossword puzzle with Laney but end up laughing hysterically (again). See that Jenny and Amelia are already asleep and decide to try to get some rest.  

Laney: Decide to do a crossword instead of studying for my Latin Derivatives test later today. Realize that the same mindset basically screwed me over for the Pentathlon, but hey, you’ve got to have fun when you’re in a hotel with your friends, right?

7:00 a.m.

Abigail: Wake up cold, even though I’m wrapped in the jacket I had put on over my pajamas in the middle of the night. Try to rouse Jenny, a notoriously deep sleeper. Sigh in relief as Laney turns up the thermostat.

Laney: Wake up because Abigail is shivering and shaking the bed. Groan as I check my watch and become conflicted over whether I should turn on the heat or stay in bed. Haul myself out of bed and raise the thermostat six degrees.

8:25 a.m.

Abigail: After grabbing a doughnut from the cafeteria, make my way over to the Greek Derivatives testing area. Camp out on the ground on my phone until a voice on the loudspeaker tells us to enter the classrooms.

Laney: Hurry to find a Latin Derivatives room that still has open seats. Plop down in a chair next to eighth grader Olivia Doan and improve my small-talk skills before the test starts.

Laney Chang
From left: freshmen Amelia Schueppert, Abigail Poag and Jenny Green study before one of the exams.

11:00 a.m.

Abigail: Feel happy now that I’ve finished the academic portion of the convention, but regret agreeing to be on the volleyball team, especially considering the fact that I have no clue how to play volleyball. Resist the temptation to scream as a volleyball bounces against the wall near my head. We are not off to a good start.

Laney: Hope that sophomore William Purdue shows up at the gym before our game starts. Otherwise Jenny, Abigail and I all have to play instead of subbing in every match. Hate myself for signing up for the team in the first place as I watch the Clear Lake team start warming up.

1:00 p.m.

Abigail: Manage to avoid getting hit in the head by freshman Luke Westmark’s serve. End up touching the ball a grand total of one time the whole game.

Laney: Reach for a flying volleyball because I’m the only one within five feet who could actually hit the ball. Use no form whatsoever to send the ball ricocheting off my arm, yet unexpectedly give sophomore William Urdahl time to hit my inaccurate ball back over the net (what just happened?!) Sigh in both disappointment and relief as we lose the match.

3:30 p.m.

Abigail: Start feeling sleepy and lie in the grass on the football field, enjoying the sunlight. Listen to Laney critique all the catapults, including the one the other freshman made.

Laney: Head over to the football field where other freshmen are setting up their PVC pipe catapult. Watch as they perform a test launch that propelled a golf ball 15 yards. Reminisce about making last year’s catapult, which launched 35 yards, not 15. Not-so-discreetly remind them that I told them to use wood both this year and last year. Watch all the other teams’ wooden catapults launch way further than ours did. Oh well, I tried to help. . . .

4:45 p.m.

Abigail: Look forward to my grilled cheese sandwich and pass the time pushing dirt around on the ground with my shoes and talking about the nature of power. Now that’s contrast.

Laney: Wait in a short line in front of a food truck for dinner, yet still end up waiting for over half an hour. Meanwhile, discuss how to make an ideal government system with Abigail, Jenny and Amelia.

6:00 p.m.

Abigail: Continue the discussion about power until we realize that there’s an actual ice cream vending machine in the cafeteria! It seems like my love for ice cream has been a trend this trip.

Laney: Finish up my dinner and ice cream before heading over to the gym for another General Assembly. Dread hearing the results of the academic tests, knowing that I did not place in Latin Derivatives.

6:30 p.m.

Abigail: Use the fact that I’m supposed to be taking pictures for The Review as an excuse to take extensive video footage of my friends accepting their awards.

Laney: Cheer for Abigail, Jenny and Amelia as they walk up to receive ribbons! Remember that I need to be taking pictures for The Review, so I try my best to be a professional photographer.

8:30 p.m.

Abigail: Blank out on all the Latin vocabulary I’ve learned over the past four years and almost lose to Laney in “20 Questions” on the bus ride home. Very loudly try to act out the word “carrot” during “Contact” only to have Jenny guess “cannibal.” Make of that what you will.
Laney: Hop back onto the bus and start passing the time by playing “20 Questions” in Latin and “Contact.” Realize that we are being very loud in a bus full of sleeping people, then resume being loud. Oops.



12:30 a.m.

Abigail: Stumble off the bus and into my dad’s car, looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again. Feel like it’s been weeks since I left for JCL and hope that I can finally quiet the stream of Latin verbs running through my head.  

Laney: Finally arrive in the Taub Lot back in Houston. Internally groan when I remember all of the homework and make up work I need to finish today and tomorrow. At least the trip was fun, though!