One Saturday each April, a group of high school Latin students do something extraordinary. They read aloud at a children's bookstore the entirety of one of the Greco-Roman epics. In a three-year cycle they read the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer and the Aeneid of Vergil. In an event initiated by the Latin students of North Central High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, titled Reading the War on Poverty, these students obtain pledges and donations for their reading. Their purpose? To raise money to contribute to Shepherd Community Center, whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty on the near east side of Indianapolis.
I would say it is an experience unlike any I have enjoyed before, but I have had over the years many opportunities to watch my Latin students do amazing things. Still, to listen to one of these epics read aloud, as it would have been in the days of Homer and Vergil, straight through from beginning to end, and to know that the students who read are using their enjoyment of Classical literature as a way to fight poverty in their community, is truly one of the highlights of my career. It is always a great way to spend a Saturday.
Shepherd is a faith-based, non-profit organization established in 1985 with a simple but staggering goal: to break the cycle of poverty on the near east side of Indianapolis. Located centrally within the community it serves, Shepherd offers programs for children, teens, adults, and families, helping to meet their physical, emotional, academic, and spiritual needs.