Upper School Courses

Academic Departments

Classical Languages

St. Stephen’s offers Middle School and Upper School Latin from grades 6 through 12, enabling students to study the language for seven years before graduation. The curriculum is varied and enriched enough to offer different experiences to students at each level. In addition, the Junior Classical League chapters in the Middle School and Upper School provide students with the opportunity to celebrate their love of the classics and to compete with other students across the region, state and country.
Classics instructors strive to stimulate their students intellectually and help them gain a new perspective on their world. Department staff adhere to the established Standards for Classical Language Learning, which emphasize communication, cultural understanding, interpersonal connections, comparisons between ancient and modern civilizations, and the invaluable legacy of language.
The primary focus for classics classes is on the student voice. Students read and discuss texts, engage in debates and contrast varying points of view, examine simulations of ancient civilizations, write in the target language, and grapple with a series of challenging questions about antiquity and its legacy. Considerable emphasis also is placed on instructor feedback and interaction with students. In addition, students are encouraged to form small study groups.

The Classics curriculum includes a six-year curriculum in Latin, studied as a language and literature, and Greek and Roman Literature studied in translation. Students may begin the language at any grade level but must study a minimum of two years to gain diploma credit if beginning at Latin I.
  • Latin I

    Latin I is an introductory course open to all students and assumes no prior knowledge. Unlike learning a modern language, Latin emphasizes proficiency in reading and translating texts, and in talking (in English) about how languages work. Beginning students start with a focus on the properties and functions of verbs, nouns and adjectives. Alongside the language training, students will learn the fundamentals of the geography of the Roman world, the Trojan War, Vergil’s “Aeneid,” Roman religion, Roman housing and Roman moral values. Model sentences and passage translation will be primary means of practicing new grammatical topics, but students will also strengthen their skills through composition. Students will be tasked with displaying and explaining their understanding through all three modes of communication (interpretive, interpersonal, presentational). At the end of Latin I, students will be able to translate and compose simple Latin sentences and speak fluently about the grammatical functions of words.

    Open to students in the Upper School with no prior experience with Latin and qualifying Middle School students.

    1 credit
  • Latin II

    Latin II continues the grammar progression that students began in Latin I. Students will master Latin verb syntax up to basic subjunctive uses, along with deponents and participles. The history and culture curriculum will cover the Roman economy and urban life, ancient Greek philosophy, ancient Greek and Egyptian art, and a close study of the fall of the Roman Republic. As in Latin I, model sentences and passage translation will be primary means of practicing new grammatical topics, and students will be tasked with showing and explaining their understanding through all three modes of communication (interpretive, interpersonal, presentational). By the end of Latin II, students will be able to read syntactically complex Latin passages close to the level of complexity seen in Latin literature, and they will possess a deeper understanding of the metropolitan society and political history of the Roman Republic.

    Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of MS Latin IB or US Latin I or by placement exam.
    1 credit
  • Latin III

    The first half of Latin III shepherds students to the end of essential grammar instruction, including conditional statements and indirect discourse. Building upon the broad cultural knowledge base developed in Latin I and Latin II, students will deepen their understanding of Roman society through the study of important institutions, including ancient slavery, the Roman constitution, Roman architecture, gender and sexuality, the genres and authors of Latin literature, and the political transition between the Republic and the Empire. Although they will continue to work with model sentences and passages at first, by the end of winter term, students will graduate to reading unadapted passages drawn from the writings of Julius Caesar and the poet Catullus. At the end of Latin III, students will be able to prepare previously unseen passages of Latin literature for discussion and dissection in seminar with their peers.

    Satisfactory completion of Latin II or by placement exam.
    1 credit
  • Latin IV

    Latin IV marks a shift away from learning new grammar and syntax concepts and toward reading and discussing Latin literature. Under the supervision and guidance of the instructor, students will collaborate on improving the skills in reading and translating unadapted texts that they started to acquire in Latin III. The focus of this work will be Vergil’s “Aeneid,” of which students will read large sections in Latin — and the entirety in English — throughout the course of the year. Day-to-day coursework will involve nightly preparation of assigned lines followed by in-class translation and discussion. Alongside the literature study, students will learn about the social and political background of the poem, as well as the political history of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. By the end of the year, students will have solidified their understanding of Latin grammar and syntax, and they will be experienced in translating, scanning and interpreting Latin verse.

    Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of Latin III or by placement exam.
    1 credit
  • Adv Latin V/VI

    Following the year-long introduction to the reading and discussion of literature in Latin IV, students are prepared to move on to advanced study in Latin V / VI. At this level, there is great variety in the direction each year might take, depending on student interest. The students and instructor will collaborate to decide on a different author or group of texts for careful study. Texts read in the past have included works by Ovid, Horace, Catullus, Propertius, Livy and Cicero. While they continue to refine their advanced reading and translation skills, students will also hone their skills in discussing ancient literature, both in class and in analytical writing. Cultural and historical topics will vary as the course material changes, but they will, in any case, involve independent research and long-form writing. Students who complete courses at this level will be prepared for college-level Latin and history studies, should they choose to pursue them.

    Satisfactory completion of Latin IV or by placement exam.
    1 credit

Upper School Faculty

  • Photo of John Rocklin
    John Rocklin
    Latin Instructor
    Columbia University - M.Ed.
    Simmons College - M.S.
    University of Texas at Austin - M.A.
    University of Vermont - B.A.
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213