We believe that through the National Junior Classical
We will gain an active appreciation and understanding of
the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, thereby
better enabling us as individuals to interpret and
appraise the our own world.
We have a sound structure which provides a sound basis
for expansion of our horizons and perspectives,
intellectually, socially, and esthetically.
We have a viable organization which can effectively
create in others a sense of awareness, interest, and
appreciation as far as the value of the classics is
What is the Junior Classical League?
The National Junior Classical League is an organization
of junior and senior high school students sponsored by
the American Classical League. It is composed of local
and state chapters and is the largest Classical
organization in the world today. Its purpose is to
encourage an interest in and an appreciation of the
language, literature, and culture of ancient Greece and
Rome and to impart an understanding of the debt of our
own culture to that of Classical antiquity.
Highlights of the National Junior Classical
The Junior Classical League had its inception at a
Council Meeting of the American Classical League in
1927, but it did not come into action until 1936 when
Miss Dorothy Park Latta was appointed director and chair
with the headquarters established at New York
In 1936, the first chapter was formed at the high school
in Danville, New York.
By 1937, 500 students had become members of the JCL.
In 1941, Texas held the first state convention at the
University of Texas.
In 1944, the first annual membership report was issued.
There were 9,288 members in 328 chapters.
In 1948, the NJCL headquarters were moved to Miami
University in Oxford, Ohio. Miss Estella Kyne became the
second National JCL Chair. Also the JCL birthday card
made from a linoleum block and the JCL sticker in
miniature were first offered for sale by the Service
In 1952, Volume 1, No. 1 of Torch: US the official
national JCL bulletin, was published. Billie Jo Payne,
the editor of the Texas Torch, was the editor of this
first printed national bulletin.
In 1953, an organizational meeting for a National JCL
Convention was held at Miami University, in Oxford,
Ohio, from June 18 to June 20. More than a hundred
student delegates from 26 chapters in 11 states met
under the chair of Veda McCray of Middletown, Ohio. At
this organizational Convention meeting, a constitution
presented by Gene Perry was adopted and national
officers were elected.
The title of the national publication was amended from
Torch: US to its present form, Torch: U.S.
In 1954, the first National Convention was held June
13-15, at Incarnate Word High School in San Antonio,
Texas, under the sponsorship of Mildred Sterling, Texas
Attendance at the first convention was 474 delegates
from 77 chapters in 18 states.
In September 1954, the JCL was listed for the first time
in the "Where to Find It" directory of Senior
Scholastic; it was also listed for the first time in the
monthly magazine International Conventions.
In 1955, the delegates at the convention voted to accept
and retain unaltered the JCL Creed as written in 1937 by
Dorothy Park Latta and printed on all chapters charters
sent out from national headquarters. The music for the
JCL Creed was contributed by the Music Department at St
Vincent's College in Latrobe, PA.
Also, JCL programs from widely separated chapters
featured the Language Teacher's Notebook, distributed
freely to high schools throughout the nation by Scott,
Foresman and Company.
In 1956, the twentieth anniversary of JCL, presentations
at the convention of June 24-26 included sessions on
"Practical Uses of Latin" with experienced professional
leaders as consultants; an evening program with the
theme "The Labors of Hercules," and included a Roman
banquet for over 900 guests, all in Roman costume, held
on a lawn. A highlight of this 1956 meeting was the
announcement of the ACL offer of five national
$100-scholarships to JCL-members entering college to
In 1958, Miss Belle Gould became the third National
In 1960, the National Senior Classical League (NSCL) was
established at the seventh annual National Junior
Classical League convention at the University of New
Mexico. On August 9 of that year, twenty people labeled
the "Ambassadors", voted to call their organization The
Senior Classical League.
The 1960's saw a marked increase in contest offerings at
JCL conventions, including additional academic tests,
costumes, oratory, and Olympics. Sweepstakes were begun.
JCL sponsored several trips to Europe beginning in 1964.
1963-64 saw JCL's peak membership: 107,086. The largest
national convention ever held was at the University of
Illinois Champaign-Urbana in 1964. Nearly 2400 attended.
JCL officially became the National JCL in 1966-67. The
following year lifetime membership dues of twenty five
cents per person became yearly membership dues, which
were increased to fifty cents in 1974-75.
Certamen was introduced to NJCL in 1972.
The National JCL Committee was expanded to twelve
members in 1974. Longtime National Chair Miss Belle
Gould died that same year and was succeeded by David
Levy. When Mr. Levy died in 1980, the National Committee
began a policy of electing its officers for two-year
The National Latin Exam, co-sponsored by JCL and ACL,
was begun in 1978 on four levels with under 10,000
For NJCL's fiftieth anniversary in 1986 a history of the
organization was written and distributed to sponsors at
the national convention at Indiana University.
In 1988 the NJCL Latin Honor Society was established.
Students with A averages were given certificates and
seals to signify their success. The names of 4811
students were sent in by 355 teachers.
In 1994, the JCL Pen Pal Program computerized. A
computer firm matched applicants. Over 1800 JCL members
Beginning in 1995, each sponsor attending the NJCL
convention received not only a copy of all academic
tests, but also a copy of the preceding year's Certamen
In 1997, previous year's questions were made available
for purchase, the profits of which were used to donate
Certamen machines to chapters needing them.
Complete NJCL History for the last 50 years.
The National Junior Classical League has
created a document, recording the history of the last 50
years of NJCL Conventions and relevant history, into a
downloadable file. (This file is quite large,
over 60+ megabytes, and you should use a high speed
connection to download.)
50 Years of NJCL Convention_web.pdf
This file was provided
by the National Junior Classical League.