Lifetime Achievement Award

Illinois Classical Conference Lifetime Achievement Award, 2006
Marie and Lou Bolchazy, Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers

This year ICC begins what we hope will be a new tradition with the establishment of the Illinois Classical Conference Lifetime Achievement Award. The ICC Advisory Council voted to create this award last February in order to recognize those individuals who have made outstanding contribution to ICC and to the promotion of the Classics in the State of Illinois over at least a ten year period. Thus the intent of this award is to celebrate the special accomplishments for the Classical world over a long period of time.

In many ways determining the first ICC Lifetime Achievement Award was an easy task for the Awards Committee. This first award recognizes achievements which go well beyond the borders of the State of Illinois and encompass not only the United States but also the entire Classical world, achievements which include significant scholarship, teaching, and promotion of the classics. Indeed, it would take a Herculean effort and more time than we have this evening to mention all these accomplishments. I will only mention a few.

Tonight we are honoring the fact that that, when many major publishers stopped producing Latin books during the years of bleak Latin enrollments in the 70's and early 80's, the materials teachers needed for the classroom started to be produced here in Illinois. Over 400 titles, in fact, have been produced since 1978. 98% of these represent the ancient world: the majority of these are textbooks for high school and college use, about 25% are in scholarship. These include four books on the Gilgamesh Epic, fifteen books on Vergil; and several books on each of the following: Cicero, Catullus, Horace, and Ovid. We recognize tonight the publication of school texts, grammars, ancillaries, and enrichment materials, both for Latin and Greek instruction, from basic to advanced levels.

Many of us will recall the not so distant days when Pharr's Aeneid sent out of print and when a Latin teacher calling to order it was told by the publisher's customer service dept that they did not even know they had such a title. Tonight we celebrate the fact that books like Pharr's Aeneid are once more readily available for our students.

For years and years the publisher of Latin for Americans, never changed anything in the book except the pictures. Another publisher tried to modernize the Jenney series in 1990 without much success. Most American publishers, in fact, did not support American Latin teachers. Many of us had to use books developed in Scotland (Ecce Romani, for example) or in England (the Cambridge series). Let us shout for joy tonight, then, that the only American publisher to support American teachers is located here in the State of Illinois. The Latin teachers of Illinois and of our profession as a whole owe a great deal of thanks to this publishing house for being there when we needed them.

We also celebrate tonight the countless copies of these books donated to classical organizations who wanted to display them at a conferences and were told after the conference to keep the books or to raffle them off or to donate them to a local school.

Because of these efforts Illinois Latin teachers in 2006 are at the forefront of Latin pedagogy. LEGAMUS, the transitional Latin reader series, promises, in many ways, to revolutionize the way students in the 21st century learn to read Latin. And it is happening right here in Illinois. And it is happening in a company run by classicists and educators for classicists, many of these people, in fact, long time friends and members of the Illinois Classical Conference.

Besides textbooks and scholarship, we celebrate with this award major efforts made for the promotion of Latin and Greek pronunciation, with the recording of Latin music on cassettes and CDs and in books. We recognize tonight the publication, right here in Illinois, of an excellent scholarly journal, The Classical Bulletin.

We commend outreach efforts to over countless homeschoolers who receive a bi-annual Latin newsletter and use the self-teaching Artes Latinae series.

We honor the successful effort in the past seven years to translate English language children's literature into Latin, including Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat or Cattus Petasatus and Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree or Arbor Alma. Several hundred thousand copies of these children's classics in Latin have been sold as part of an effort at "Responsible popularization" of the Latin language. Walk into bookstores in malls around the country and you find these Latin books resting next to their English originals. This effort at responsible popularization has been promoted successfully in The Wall Street Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Associated Press, and hundreds of other newspapers together with other media, including radio and TV. The Chicago Tribune recently summarized the extent and the effect of these publications efforts in an article entitled: "Sex, Lies and Clay Tablets: From Gilgamesh to Hitler's Mess — Publisher Keeps Thinking Fresh."

It was a been a felix culpa, indeed, that moved the recipients of this award away from classroom teaching to textbook publishing. Tonight, then, we honor with this award two fulfilling and rich careers which have made such a positive impact on us as Latin teachers in Illinois. They have indeed shown us, as their logo suggests, a better future through the lessons of the past.

I ask you now to celebrate Marie and Lou Bolchazy as the recipients of the first Illinois Classical Conference Lifetime Achievement Award.