Kathleen King taught Latin at Marianna High School in the 50s and established the first Latin Club at MHS while there. For those who have not yet looked it up, “Quae numquam oblivione delebitur” translated from Latin to English means “You will not be forgotten.”
That is attested to by Margaret Curtis Miller who told of the time Kathleen King’s possessions were being auction to remember her by and Margaret replied, “I told her no, that it was highly unlikely that I would ever forget that dear, absent minded, kind woman, and I haven’t.”
Mrs. King was a childless widow when she began teaching Latin at Marianna High School. Fame came to her soon through her family members in Montgomery, Alabama were musically gifted, including her niece, Tony Tennille. Tony Tennille became famous during the seventies as the co-star of “The Captain and Tennille,” a popular television series during the seventies.”
Margaret Curtis doesn’t remember Mrs. King as being musically inclined, “Mrs. King did not appear to be musically inclined, but excelled in the study of Latin. Most of her students did not. Even so, she enjoyed teaching and believed in making it fun. She taught two years of Latin, and established a Latin Club, which performed each Christmas, singing Christmas Carols in Latin while strolling through the hallways of Marianna High School. The Latin Club also enjoyed an annual Latin Club banquet, which included a dance during the spring of my senior year.”
Margaret believes the ‘fun’ Mrs. King put into her teaching contributed to the number of students taking Latin, “These social events were probably the reason most of us decided to take Latin, even though we had no idea whether or not we would ever need it. My brother’s classmate, Anta Pitlick, was heard to remark that she was the only Jewish girl and she knew who could sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” in Latin.”
Another contributing factor in taking Latin was a recommendation from a well-respected teacher, “Miss Carter recommended Latin for students planning careers in education, medicine or the law. She said that knowing the Latin roots of the Romantic languages would be useful to anyone traveling abroad. I had never traveled any further than Mexico Beach once a summer, so couldn’t imagine I would ever need to know Latin, but Miss Carter recommended it, so I took her advice.
Latin did turn out to be useful later in life. It has helped me understand menus in French or Spanish, and once helped me figure out road signs when my husband and I visited Paris. We had to find our way back from the Arch de Triumph to our hotel near the Notre Dame Cathedral, and as that was a very long walk, I was glad I had studied what has been called a dead language. I learned that it was better to know a little about a dead language than to be dead tired.”
Miller remembers what Mrs. King would not appreciate as much as she did, “Mrs. King was a bird- like woman, brilliant, but like the famous absent-minded professor, she sometimes forgot essential details. When our classroom became overheated, she often unbuttoned her suit jacket and let it hang open. One hot day, she forgot she wasn’t wearing a blouse, but not wishing to embarrass her, none of us brought it to her attention. I’ll never know if she even noticed it was missing.”
The fact that high school students chose to remain silent about an embarrassing situation is proof in the pudding of the respect they had for Kathleen King.
Barbara Adams remembers a young man who had fallen asleep during class with his head way back almost touching the desk behind him. “Mrs. King very calmly continued her lesson. When he woke up, Mrs. King said very calmly, ‘Are you okay?’ The young man not wishing to give it away that he was napping immediately replied, ‘Yes, mam. I was trying to keep the water from coming out of my eyes on my paper. They’ve been watering a lot lately.’ Mrs. King replied, ‘Eight hours of sleep is the best cure in the world for watery eyes at midday.’ Ronnie never slept in her class again.”
Ann Hill remembers the caroling, “The Christmas carols were the best. Mrs. King put so much into this and it showed. We were always so excited when she announced we had another something new. The spring dance was always an elaborate affair and with Mrs. King, it went off without a hitch.”
Mrs. Kathleen King is fondly remembered as making an impact on students who crossed her path. Although not always in the classroom setting, she offered more than just a 50-minute class to her students. Before her time, she taught outside the box!
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