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St. Andrew student Andrew Nistler was dressed in a toga Tuesday afternoon in the school gymnasium and demonstrated the strength of Roman arches.

Nistler said unlike a dome frame where the force is centered on top, with Roman arches all the force goes down and out.

Classmate Phillip Kaiserski helped with the demonstration and said he is most impressed by the lack of hinges or motor in many of the historic sites, such as the Coliseum.

Latin Day at St. Andrew School provides an opportunity for young students to learn about ancient Rome through hands-on activities delivered by the school's older students.

Mark Smillie, the school's Latin instructor, said the event helps to put some of the students' knowledge into practice and generates some interest for the Latin program among elementary students.

"Part of my Latin program is not just teaching the language, but the culture and connecting the language with the culture," Smillie said.

Latin is required as part of St. Andrew's curriculum and Latin Day was established in 1998 as a way to make the language, culture and history come to life.

Five-year-old Noel Teders said her favorite activity was the food.

"I liked eating the fish and grapes," Teders said.

Isabel Rausch, 6, preferred the ancient Roman graffiti booth.

Rausch wrote, "I love my cousins."

Junior Sidnie Kane was one of the graffiti-booth designers.

"We were looking to do something original," Kane said. "Something the kids could interact with and feel part of."

Classmate Liz Determan, 17, helped with the graffiti booth and told the students about ancient graffiti as they came in waves through the gymnasium.

Graffiti can still be found in places like Pompeii and the catacombs of Rome, Determan said.

"They carved them or sometimes they'd get a professional, like a stone cutter, to do it for them," she added.

Jack Palmer, 12, was among a group of boys dressed as gladiators in a classroom they transformed into the Coliseum.

Palmer said he hoped the younger students left with an educational history lesson in Latin that taught them about an ancient custom in a fun way.

"The Coliseum was used for entertainment of Roman people to sit and watch animals and humans compete," Palmer said. "Frankly the Romans were relatively blood thirsty. So prisoners of war and criminals who were going to be executed anyway would fight each other or hunt animals."

First-grade teacher Rochelle Miller said Latin Day is very special.

"By going through the stations they learn not from the teachers, but from the older students who are little more connected," Miller said. "They pay attention to the older students"

Smillie believes Latin makes students think about their language, and how it works.

"It gives then an ordered sense of how language works," he said. "It helps student increase language as well, increase English writing skill and speaking skill. Helps them reason, it has benefits all across."

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