District 203 to phase out Latin program following Board of Education vote


Jay Deegan

From left: Central students Nihal Kaki, Athena Chen, Declan O’Donovan and Jack Campbell wear shirts with “Save Latin” on them at the District 203 Board of Education meeting on Oct. 17.

Jay Deegan, Editorial Editor

District 203 will remove its Latin program following a 6-1 vote by the district Board of Education on Oct. 17. 

The program, which includes Latin 1, Latin 2 and Honors Latin 3/4, will be gradually phased out over the next four years, starting with the removal of Latin 1 for 2023-24. No students currently enrolled in a Latin class will be affected by this decision, said Jayne Willard, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.

The motion was met with opposition.

“I’ve questioned ‘why now?’” Central Latin teacher Stacy Cunningham said. “I think it’s just a disappointing decision.”

The removal was recommended by district administrators, who cited decreased enrollment  and that Latin didn’t lead to “viable postsecondary options.”

“It is very difficult to come to the conclusion that as a district we can’t teach everything,” said Marion Friebus-Flaman, Director of Language Acquisition for District 203. “We have to look at the enrollment and also the alignment with the college and career pathways that we have.”

Kristin Fitzgerald, Board of Education President, said the continuation of Latin would impact other classes.

“Many students have had situations at both high schools where when we have too many [classes], there’s just too few [students per class],” Fitzgerald said. 

Enrollment in Central’s Latin program has decreased in the last decade. During the 2012-13 school year, Naperville Central had 62 students enrolled in Latin 1. In the 2022-23 school year, Central had 21. 

Naperville North’s Latin program has also seen decline: there were 16 students enrolled in Latin 1 for 2021-22, but the class failed to meet the 15-student minimum requirement this year. 

Prior to the meeting on Oct. 17, six students spoke in favor of keeping Latin at the Oct. 3 board meeting. Central junior Isabel Deer started an online petition against the motion, reaching 109 signatures. Central junior Daphne Lamesch created a paper petition that reached about 300 signatures. 

“[The decision’s] really upsetting,” senior Nihal Kaki said. “Latin is one of the strongest communities at Naperville Central. I think that if you asked to remove any other class, nobody would have rallied to push back as much as Latin.”

Cunningham also spoke at the Oct. 3 board meeting.

“At Central this year, we are encouraging students to ‘find your people, find your passion,’” Cunningham said. “Let’s not take a course away from students who have found it here.”

Charles Cush was the lone dissenting board member.

“I dare say that at some point in all of our lives that we’ve struggled to find ‘our people,’” Cush said. “It’s just difficult for me to take away ‘our people’ from someone.”