Landon School

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Landon School
Virtute et non vi
"By virtue, not by force"
Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Type Private College Preparatory School
Religious affiliation(s) Nonsectarian
Established 1929
Headmaster David Armstrong
Enrollment 683 total
Lower School: 126
Middle School: 227
Upper School: 330
Student to teacher ratio 8:1
Campus Suburban, 75 acres (30 ha)
Color(s) Brown and White
Athletics 15 interscholastic sports
Athletics conference Interstate Athletic Conference
Mascot Bear

The Landon School is a private, nonsectarian, college preparatory school for boys in grades 3–12, with an enrollment of approximately 683 students. The school sits on 75 acres (300,000 m2) in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.


Paul Landon Banfield founded the Landon School with the help of his wife, Mary Lee, in 1929. The school's first location was a former residence in the Sheridan-Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, D.C., now home to the Embassy of Estonia. Banfield moved Landon to its present 75-acre (300,000 m2) campus in Bethesda in 1935. The farmhouse, stables, and barn from the previous use of the Bethesda property still stand on the campus.

The school's original location in Washington, D.C. now serves as the Embassy of Estonia.

Landon's mission statement reads,

The Landon School prepares talented boys for productive lives as accomplished, responsible and caring men whose actions are guided by the principles of perseverance, teamwork, honor and fair play.

The school's motto is "Virtute et non vi", meaning, "By virtue, not by force."

The Landon School's headmasters have been:

  • Paul Landon Banfield: 1929–1970
  • Hugh Riddleberger: 1970–1981
  • Malcolm Coates: 1981–1989
  • Damon F. Bradley: 1990–2004
  • David M. Armstrong: 2004–present

The school prides itself on its student-initiated and student-run honor code, begun in the early 1960s. However, in recent years the school has had to deal with allegations of criminal and boorish behavior by current and former students.[1]


Some highlights of Landon's academic curriculum:

All Landon juniors are required to take two semesters of Humanities, Landon's interdisciplinary course designed to introduce students to the rudiments of Western culture and civilization. The course is a study of major ideas and influences that have shaped European culture from the Classical to Modern eras through analysis of history, literature, art, and music.

In its third annual Advanced Placement Report to the Nation 2007, published on February 7, 2007, the College Board recognized the Landon School for its exemplary program in Advanced Placement Microeconomics. Faculty member John Bellaschi and his Advanced Placement students ranked first in the nation in the small-size school evaluation category (<300 students in grades 10-12). Landon was one of five schools in the nation recognized by the College Board’s 2007 report.[citation needed]

Built in 1962, Landon's Buchanan Library is dedicated to Wiley T. Buchanan, a former Landon parent and trustee. The Library features a collection of more than 27,000 volumes, including a reference and literary criticism section.


The Upper School has a two-year requirement for either music, art, or theatre.

The school's musical groups include a jazz band, concert band, string ensemble, handbells, and various choirs for younger students. Studio art classes include ceramics, digital art, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, and architecture.

Some highlights of Landon's arts curriculum:

The Landon Symphonette is a compendium of musicians from the school, as well as other local area high schools and colleges who play together with professionals. In its 21st Season (2011–12) under the direction of Earl Jackson, the Landon Symphonette has become a mentoring orchestra in the Washington metropolitan area. Participation in the orchestra is attained through recommendation by the students’ music teacher or private instructor, and a required audition from the Symphonette director. Among the professional musicians participating as guest soloists with the orchestra is violinist Hidetaro Suzuki, veteran of international violin competitions and former concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Read more at "". 

The Landon Art Gallery includes temporary exhibits of everything from Landon student work to professional showings, and artwork by artists from other local-area schools. The gallery is alternately used for recitals, small-scale musical productions, poetry readings and faculty performances. It was established by original curator and longtime Landon teacher Ellie Johnson.


Landon has won 44 Interstate Athletic Conference (I.A.C.) tennis championships and 27 I.A.C. lacrosse championships. Consistently ranked among the top 20 programs in the country and several times #1, lacrosse is Landon's most well-known sport. Landon has won 170 total I.A.C. championships in their respective varsity sports. A complete history of the school's I.A.C. championships can be found at "". .

At one point, all Landon students were required to play football. Landon's first student to break the mold was Ahmet Ertegun, who went on to not only found Atlantic Records and produce dozens of musicians ranging from Ray Charles to Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, but also later found America's first professional soccer team, the New York Cosmos and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2003 for his impact on the spread of soccer in American culture.[2] Landon's athletic offerings have vastly expanded since Ahmet's time. Landon currently offers varsity sports in football, soccer, cross country, basketball, ice hockey, wrestling, swimming, riflery, lacrosse, baseball, track and field, tennis, diving, water polo, rugby, and golf, as well as club sports, like whitewater kayaking and intramural programs including squash, fencing, and Ultimate Frisbee.

Landon's Varsity Lacrosse Team, coached by Robinson Bordley, won national championships in 1999, 2001, and 2002. Many Landon graduates have gone on to captain National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I lacrosse teams, including University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Virginia, Cornell University, Princeton University and University of Maryland. Several Landon graduates have been All-Americans in NCAA Division I and Division II lacrosse, and the class of 2005 featured 13 Division I recruits. More information on the program is available at "". .

Ethics and character[edit]

Landon students have been involved in several notable incidents that have received considerable regional and national attention.

Character education[edit]

Landon claims that among the most important learning that takes place at the school is the growth and development of principled young men of character and moral conviction. As a non-sectarian school, Landon does not offer religious education, but the school nonetheless offers a rigorous instructional program in ethics, teaching about values every day. In 2008, Landon adopted a Code of Character, which brings together the principles of respect and honesty that are central to the school's Civility and Honor Codes. On the first day of the school year, every member of the community signs the Code of Character, pledging to live by and model these principles.

Boys in Middle and Upper School live by the Honor Code which was written by students in the mid-1960s and reaffirmed in the early 2000s. In addition, the Landon Civility Code calls on each member of the community to respect the needs and interests of all. The school's youngest students have their own Lower School Motto, coined by former Lower School Head James Weiss: "Be honest, do your best and help the other fellow."

All Upper School students attend an Ethics Assembly once in every eight-day rotation (day one) as well as an advisory meeting to discuss the speaker on day two. Faculty also meet to reflect upon both the speaker and subsequent classroom discussion. At each assembly, one faculty member or student speaks about a personal topic or experience that shows how they personally attempt to be an ethical citizen of the world.

Student Prefects: As part of the Ethics program, 13 seniors are selected as prefects, by their peers and faculty members. Prefects are expected to model ethical behavior across all divisions by establishing relationships with assigned homerooms and advisories in the Lower and Middle Schools, proctoring the Upper School library and media center, and leading form meetings. In addition, the Prefects will sit as an advisory body to Upper School Head Ehren Federowicz should any breaches of the Civility code ensue this year.

The George Boiardi '00 Memorial Forum for Ethical Reflection series, named in memory of an outstanding Landon alumnus, brings special guest speakers to campus to share their vision with students, faculty and parents.

Paul Banfield Endowed Chair in Ethics: The Class of 1954 has endowed a chair held by Assistant Headmaster John Botti to promote teaching about ethics throughout the school.

Cheating scandal[edit]

In the fall of the 2002-2003 school year, ten Landon students were caught cheating on their SATs. Among these students were eight who admitted to the offense one month later after rumors had spread throughout the school.[3] Those eight students were suspended for the remaining month of the fall semester, though they were allowed to take their fall semester exams. Two other students were pressed to withdraw from Landon or face expulsion.[3]

This punishment, which was harsher than the one recommended by the Student Council under the school's honor code,[4] was criticized by family members. The parents of one of the two withdrawn students sued the school, claiming their son was not given the chance to confess along with the other eight individuals. The family alleged that the others were "tipped off" to the rumors and were encouraged to initiate a confession of guilt in order to receive a more lenient punishment.[5][6] On May 21, 2003, a Montgomery County judge dismissed the lawsuit, citing lack of jurisdiction over disciplinary matters in private schools.[6] Five of the students who were suspended were members of the lacrosse team, including a co-captain and the coach's son.[6] The nature of the suspension—which allowed the students to take their final exams for the semester[5]—meant that they could return to school in good standing in time for the spring lacrosse season.

The episode was chronicled in an in-depth story in the October 1, 2003 issue of Washingtonian Magazine.

Fantasy sex league[edit]

In the spring of 2010, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd published a column[7] regarding several boys in the Landon class of 2013. In the summer between 8th and 9th grades, the boys allegedly planned a fantasy football-like "draft" in which female students at other local schools were chosen for each "team," and "points" were to be scored on the basis of sexual encounters with those students. Noting that George Huguely V, a University of Virginia student recently charged in the murder of his girlfriend Yeardley Love, was a Landon alumnus, Dowd criticized the school's "Civility Code" for what she saw as hypocrisy. Commentators have criticized the response to the fantasy league as a slap on the wrist:[8] the school ordered the students to a one week long in-school suspensions, but the story did not receive outside attention until Dowd's column was published. Landon contacted some of the girls' parents, though others never received a call.[9] Jean Erstling, the director of communications at Landon, was quoted in Dowd's column as responding that “Landon has an extensive ethics and character education program which includes as its key tenets respect and honesty. Civility toward women is definitely part of that education program.”


Landon uses the teacher-coach model, in which its faculty also serve as advisors and coaches to the students. All head coaches at the school also teach an academic subject. Many assistant coaches do the same, however it is common to bring in outsiders to help assist on a team without teaching.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Myers, Bill (11 June 2010). "Landon School scrambles to contain 'slampigs' scandal". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Greenfield, Robert (2011). The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun. Simon & Schuster. p. 464. ISBN 1416558381. 
  3. ^ a b "Eight at Landon School Admit Cheating on SAT." Brigid Schulte, The Washington Post, November 23, 2002
  4. ^ "8 Students Suspended For SAT Cheating." Susan Levine, The Washington Post, November 27, 2002
  5. ^ a b "Ousted Student Sues Landon: Teen Alleges Favoritism in Penalties for SAT Cheaters." Linda Perlstein, The Washington Post, February 8, 2003
  6. ^ a b c "Our sons have something to say." Harry Jaffe, Washingtonian October 2003
  7. ^ Dowd, Maureen (9 June 2010). "Their Dangerous Swagger". The New York Times. p. A21. 
  8. ^ Stepp, Laura (15 June 2010). "Dear Landon School: Decorum Is Not the Same as Honor". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  9. ^ Birnbaum, Michael; Valerie Strauss (10 June 2010). "Boys at Landon School planned sex parties". The Washington Post. p. B5. 
  10. ^ "Tully Alford". Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  11. ^ "Landon Lacrosse History". Landon School. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  12. ^ University of Virginia Athletics Men's Lacrosse. "Player Bio: Ryan Curtis". UVA Athletics. University of Virginia. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  13. ^ "". l
  14. ^ "Ahmet Ertegun, Music Executive, Dies at 83". New York Times. 15 December 2006. 
  15. ^ Vardi, Nathan. "2014 30 Under 30: Finance". "Forbes". 
  16. ^ Bijan C. Bayne (7 July 2010). "Landon’s Fred Hetzel Named to Southern Conference Hall of Fame". DC Basketball Blog. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  17. ^ "Greg Jaffe". Random House. 
  18. ^ Superior Court of the District of Columbia. "The Honorable Rufus G. King, III, Chief Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia". (Official Biography). Retrieved 14 July 2010. 
  19. ^ "General Greg Martin '66". Landon School. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  20. ^ "General Gregory S. Martin". (Official Biography). U.S. Air Force. Archived from the original on 2012-07-17. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  21. ^ Free, Bill (18 May 1992). "In a splash, Olympics disappear for paddlers - Final U.S. berths won on Savage River". Baltimore Sun. 
  22. ^ Doug McKelway
  23. ^ "Junior USTA Interscholastic Championships". USTA Yearbook. United States Tennis Association. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  24. ^ "". 
  25. ^ Lowell Davis (19 August 2008). "Summer '08 - Lowell in the Big City". Lowell's Blog. Landon School. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  26. ^ Katherine Thurston (October 2002). "Teddy Sears". About One Life to Live Fans Guide. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  27. ^ "National Reporting Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  28. ^ "". 
  29. ^ University of Virginia Athletics Men's Lacrosse. "Player Bio: Matt Ward". UVA Athletics. University of Virginia. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  30. ^ "Spring 2002 All-Met Lacrosse". The Washington Post. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°59′26″N 77°07′31″W / 38.9905°N 77.1254°W / 38.9905; -77.1254