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Citation for 2009 Precollegiate Teaching Award Winner

In 2008, the winner of this year’s Pre-Collegiate Teaching Award spoke at his school’s Awards Day.  His topic was “Pietas.”  His personal statement on teaching begins by evoking the examples of his undergraduate teachers at Dartmouth.  Stergios Lazos understands his place in the chain of pietas, of honor and duty given and received, that links teacher to student in the best classical teaching.

Our winner has also spoken to his students on the topics “Reach for the Stars” and “Deus ipse audentes iuvat.” These were formal exhortations to excellence on formal occasions, but it is clear that Stergios Lazos exhorts his students to excellence in every moment of his teaching.  The many awards that they have won—perfect scores on the National Latin Exam, 5s on the AP exam, honors in Junior Classical League certamina—tell part of the tale.  Their words reveal the rest.  One student remembers a crucial moment during a trip to Greece and Italy.  Mr. Lazos read a Latin poem to illustrate the acoustical properties of a Roman theater—not, surely, the first time anyone has done so, but something in his reading turned it into an exhortation that, as the student writes, changed her “understanding of Greek and Roman theatre and architecture” and inspired her to pursue graduate study and a career in art history.

During twenty-five years of teaching Stergios Lazos has created a Latin program at one school, helped another grow from 19 students to over 100, and at St. Edward High School has increased classics offerings from four courses to twelve, including Greek.  Twice the Ohio Classical Conference has chosen his program as the best in the state.  And there is more. But even if I had “a voice never to be broken and a heart of bronze within me” (Iliad 2.490), I could not catalog the honors and accomplishments of Stergios Lazos and his students.  It is thus a pleasure to note, finally, that mere accumulation of honors and awards is not what motivates this year’s outstanding pre-collegiate teacher. His motto is Latina omnibus; as he himself says, magn? cum pietate, “All of my students, the weakest to the strongest, are eager to tell their peers they are in Latin . . . I only try to give my students what was given to me.”  It gives me great pleasure to present this year’s APA Pre-Collegiate Teaching Award to Stergios Lazos of St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio.

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