Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reading the War on Poverty

Six years ago our Latin students began a project called Reading the War on Poverty.  One Saturday each April they go to Kids Ink Children's Bookstore in Indianapolis where they read aloud the entirety of Homer's Iliad or Odyssey or Vergil's Aeneid.  The students take turns reading in fifteen minute shifts from one of Stanley Lombardo's translations of the great Greco-Romany epics, rotating through all the epics every three years.

Those reading get donations, which are then combined with donations from customers at the bookstore that day and 10% of the sales from the Kids Ink store itself.  The entire amount is then given to Shepherd Community Center, whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty in Indianapolis.  Our students have raised more than $5,000.00 so far.

This coming Saturday, April 19, will see us reading the Aeneid.  Yes, it is prom that evening.  Yes, it is the day before Easter and many families will have plans.  And yes, our students will make the sacrifice of their time to serve others.  They have taken to heart the words of Cicero, ceteros pudeat, si qui se ita litteris abdiderunt ut nihil possint ex eis neque ad communem adferre fructum, neque in aspectum lucemque proferre.  (Pro Archia, 12)  "Let others be ashamed if they have so hidden themselves in literature that they can bring forth nothing from it for the common benefit or into the light to be seen."

This project has gone on to inspire our students to think of new ways to help others, such as our Fabrica Ursam, or Build-a-Bear project, now in its third year, and this year's literacy garden, for which our students obtained a $1600.00 grant from United Way of Central Indiana to build a garden and stock it with books at a local elementary school.

But let's go back to Reading the War on Poverty for a moment.  Depending on which epic they are reading, this event run for twelve hours.  Imagine it...twelve hours on a Saturday during which high school students read aloud an entire ancient epic, promoting their love of Classics and using that enjoyment to raise money to fight poverty.  As I spend that day with them, I never cease to be humbled and amazed.  If this project touches you, then consider a donation.  You may make out checks to North Central Latin Club and send them to the address below.

Mr. Steven R. Perkins
North Central High School
1801 E. 86th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46240

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