Landon School

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Landon School
Virtute et non vi
By virtue, not by force
6101 Wilson Lane
Bethesda, Maryland, 20817
Type Private, College-prep
Religious affiliation(s) Nonsectarian
Established 1929
Headmaster David Armstrong
Grades 312
Gender Boys
Enrollment 681 total
Lower School: 127
Middle School: 214
Upper School: 340
Student to teacher ratio 6:1
Campus Suburban, 75 acres (30 ha)
Color(s) Brown and White
Athletics 20 interscholastic sports
Athletics conference Interstate Athletic Conference
Mascot Bear

Landon School is a private, nonsectarian, college preparatory school for boys in grades 3–12, with an enrollment of approximately 680 students. The school sits on 75 acres (300,000 m2) in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.


Paul Landon Banfield and his wife, Mary Lee, founded Landon School 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 and are used today.

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

Landon’s mission is to prepare 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."

Landon prides itself on its student-initiated and student-run honor code, begun in the early 1960s. At the start of each school year, every student and faculty member signs Landon’s Code of Character as a pledge to uphold the values of respect and honor that are central to the school’s Civility and Honor Codes. These same values are present in the school’s motto, “Virtute et non vi” — which means “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

In November 2014, the Landon School Board of Trustees announced that Jim Neill had been selected to succeed departing Headmaster David Armstrong as Landon’s sixth head. His tenure will begin July 2015.


In the Lower School (Grades 3-5), students learn the essentials of mathematics, history, English and science. In the third grade, students have a primary teacher for the core subjects, but learn self-reliance as they move about campus independently to attend art classes in Torrey Hall, science labs in the Barton Alumni Athletic Center, and music classes and play practice in the Mondzac Performing Arts Center. At the fourth- and fifth-grade levels, teachers specialize in their subject, and boys have the benefit of faculty expertise in writing, reading, math and social studies.

Lower School students enjoy hands-on learning experiences through STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) challenges, projects that teach them to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world experiences. Off-campus field trips — such as a visit to the National Gallery of Art, a barge ride down the historic C&O Canal and a book reading at Politics & Prose — also extend the material the boys have learned and encourage them to enjoy time together in a non-classroom setting.

In the Middle School (Grade 6, Forms I and II), students begin to make the transition from boys to young men, and Landon’s academic curriculum adapts to equip them with the tools they need to think critically, independently and analytically.

Thanks to small class sizes (the average is 15 students), as well as honors courses in mathematics, each Middle School boy has the opportunity to excel and learn strong fundamentals that will prepare him for Upper School and college. Landon’s unique eight-day schedule with mid-morning breaks allows students to experience each class at different times for optimal learning and provides a window for students and teachers to get to know each other better, as well as to engage in clubs or service opportunities.

The annual Mini-Mester program offers another occasion for Middle School boys to steer their education. Each year in the days leading up to spring break, students choose a field of study — from space exploration and crime scene investigation to guitar playing and sustainable living — and delve into it with on- and off-campus expeditions that encourage them to learn and build community with teachers and boys from other grades.

Once students reach the Upper School, they enjoy the benefits of the school’s nearly 40 honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes. All juniors take two semesters of Landon’s signature interdisciplinary Humanities class, a study of major ideas and influences that have shaped European culture from the Classical[disambiguation needed] to modern era through analysis of history, literature, art and music.

Students also reap the benefits of outside-the-box learning. Every student’s time at Landon is capped off with an Independent Senior Project. For the past 20+ years, the required program has given seniors the opportunity to conceive of and execute a unique project with the guidance of two faculty advisors. Some seniors climb mountains in Alaska to reap survival skills. Others build Habitat for Humanity homes to learn the value of service to others. Still others gain business acumen by opening up an on-campus coffee shop or hone their engineering talents by constructing (and racing) a speedy electric car.

To equip students with the technological literacy they need to succeed in an ever-changing digital landscape — and to assist faculty with the implementation of technology in the classroom — the school employs a dedicated academic technologist in each of the three divisions. Students learn how to use vital educational computer programs, including PowerPoint, Word and Excel; become more critical readers using the Kurzweil 3000 program; and keep track of tests and homework assignments through the school’s online portal.


All Landon students must participate in the arts (specific requirements vary by division), and the school offers 25 courses in music, theatrical arts and studio arts. Landon’s program is among the strongest and most highly regarded in the region, thanks to teachers and instructors who still practice their own craft. For example, the 30 members of adjunct music faculty, some of whom have played with the likes of Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight, perform at marquee venues such as Radio City Music Hall and the Kennedy Center. And the theatrical arts program director is a working actor who recently appeared on the acclaimed Netflix series House of Cards.

The school's musical groups — including a jazz band, concert band, string ensemble, handbells, and various choirs — routinely travel to regional and national competitions, where they have often achieved superior gold ratings (the highest possible).

Landon’s studio art classes include ceramics, digital art, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, and architecture. Each division has at least one dedicated art studio, and artists frequently display their works in the school hallways, as well as in the on-campus Landow Art Gallery. In recent years, Landon’s painters have won awards at the annual Best of the Independent Schools Art Competition (hosted at Landow Gallery), the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and the Congressional Art Competition.

Landon’s theatrical arts program features classes that teach boys acting techniques and introduce them to elements of stage, set construction and costume design. Students also act in, design the sets for, and act as backstage technicians for a series of plays each year. The Lower School stages a play in the spring, and Middle and Upper School boys have the opportunity to participate in two plays each year in conjunction with girls from sister school Holton-Arms.


Every boy at Landon is required to participate in daily sports — varsity, club or intramural — to stay physically fit and learn about the value of healthy living and teamwork. Students are guided in their athletic endeavors by the same men and women who educate them in the classroom and advise them outside of it, their teacher-coach-mentors: educators who connect with the boys on multiple levels — academic, athletic, artistic and personal — so they know where students shine and where they can improve.

The school offers 26 athletics options, including varsity interscholastic sports such as soccer, water polo, football, cross country, ice hockey, wrestling, basketball, baseball, track, tennis, golf, rugby and lacrosse. Landon also offers interscholastic club sports such as riflery, sailing, fencing, squash and ultimate Frisbee, as well as intramural sports and strength and conditioning, a class that teaches boys the value of physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle.

Landon’s varsity teams have won 183 total Interstate Athletic Conference (I.A.C.) championships, including 47 I.A.C. tennis championships and 29 I.A.C. lacrosse championships. In addition, Landon’s varsity lacrosse team, coached by Robinson Bordley, won national championships in 1999, 2001 and 2002.

Many Landon graduates — including 23 members of the Class of 2014 alone — have gone on to play National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I or Division III sports.

Character education[edit]

The educators at Landon believe that character education is the most important teaching they do.[citation needed] The goal is to inspire the boys to think and live ethically, instilling in them the values of respect and honesty that guide all of their actions and relationships with others.[citation needed] 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.

As part of the Ethics program, 13 seniors are selected as “Prefects” (student leaders) 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, Landon’s 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.

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.[1] 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.[2]

This punishment, which was harsher than the one recommended by the Student Council under the school's honor code,[3] 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.[4][5] On May 21, 2003, a Montgomery County judge dismissed the lawsuit, citing lack of jurisdiction over disciplinary matters in private schools.[5] Five of the students who were suspended were members of the lacrosse team, including a co-captain and the coach's son.[5] The nature of the suspension—which allowed the students to take their final exams for the semester[4]—meant that they could return to school in good standing in time for the spring lacrosse season.

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

In the spring of 2010, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd published a column[6] 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. 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.” 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.

Other commentators also criticized the response to the fantasy league as a slap on the wrist,[7] since the school's response to the fantasy sex league scandal was to give the students involved one week in-school suspensions. Landon only contacted some of the girls' parents, while others never received a call.[8]

Faculty: The Teacher-Coach-Mentor Model[edit]

Landon has a unique approach to teaching: the teacher-coach-mentor model. The 125+ members of the school’s diverse, dynamic and highly educated faculty are also coaches, advisors and leaders. They serve as role models and find teachable moments everywhere: in the classroom, performance hall, art studio, gym, fields and the community beyond campus.

For example, History Department Chair Bill Reed is also the head coach of the varsity soccer and baseball teams, as well as an Upper School advisor. Math Department Chair Adam Atwell, who employs an innovative “problem-solving” curriculum in some of his algebra courses, has coached the varsity tennis squad to three consecutive Interstate Athletic Conference (I.A.C.) titles, and earned All-Gazette Coach of the Year honors in 2014 for his efforts.

With a student/faculty ratio of 6:1, teachers provide individual attention and tailored approaches to maximize learning for each student. Small class sizes facilitate lively discussions as teachers utilize best practices to deliver the curriculum in innovative, engaging ways.

Campus & Facilities[edit]

Nestled in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside the nation’s capital, Landon’s beautiful 75-acre campus resembles that of a small college — in both its sprawling physical appearance and its energetic vibe. Each day, campus bustles with students going to class in dedicated Lower, Middle and Upper School buildings; heading to lunch in the dining hall located in the newly refurbished performing arts center; painting in Pielage Amphitheater or the blossoming Perkins Garden; and enjoying recess or participating in sports on one of the well-groomed fields or in the recently renovated athletics center.

The Barton Alumni Athletic Center — the home of Landon’s basketball and wrestling programs, as well as physical education and strength-and-conditioning classes — includes two gymnasiums (one of which has been completely redone), a wrestling room, a newly updated team room, a fitness room with top-of-the line weight and cardio equipment, revamped locker rooms, and an expansive atrium that is often used for events.

Landon’s lacrosse and football teams square off against rivals on the turf of Triplett Field, while four other grass fields provide the setting for varsity soccer and rugby matches, as well as junior varsity, Middle School, Lower School and intramural sports.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "[1]"Eight at Landon School Admit Cheating on SAT." Brigid Schulte, The Washington Post November 23, 2002
  2. ^ "Eight at Landon School Admit Cheating on SAT." Brigid Schulte, The Washington Post, November 23, 2002
  3. ^ "8 Students Suspended For SAT Cheating." Susan Levine, The Washington Post, November 27, 2002
  4. ^ a b "Ousted Student Sues Landon: Teen Alleges Favoritism in Penalties for SAT Cheaters." Linda Perlstein, The Washington Post, February 8, 2003
  5. ^ a b c "Our sons have something to say." Harry Jaffe, Washingtonian October 2003
  6. ^ Dowd, Maureen (9 June 2010). "Their Dangerous Swagger". The New York Times. p. A21. 
  7. ^ Stepp, Laura (15 June 2010). "Dear Landon School: Decorum Is Not the Same as Honor". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  8. ^ Birnbaum, Michael; Valerie Strauss (10 June 2010). "Boys at Landon School planned sex parties". The Washington Post. p. B5. 
  9. ^ "Tully Alford". Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  10. ^ "Landon Lacrosse History". Landon School. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  11. ^ University of Virginia Athletics Men's Lacrosse. "Player Bio: Ryan Curtis". UVA Athletics. University of Virginia. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  12. ^ "". l
  13. ^ "Ahmet Ertegun, Music Executive, Dies at 83". New York Times. 15 December 2006. 
  14. ^ Vardi, Nathan. "2014 30 Under 30: Finance". "Forbes". 
  15. ^ Bijan C. Bayne (7 July 2010). "Landon’s Fred Hetzel Named to Southern Conference Hall of Fame". DC Basketball Blog. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  16. ^ Timanus, Eddie (4 May 2010). "Lawyer calls Virginia lacrosse murder case an 'accident'". USA Today. 
  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" (PDF). (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. ^ "When and How to Scale: DC Startup at a CrossRoads". Forbes. Forbes. May 27, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  22. ^ Free, Bill (18 May 1992). "In a splash, Olympics disappear for paddlers - Final U.S. berths won on Savage River". Baltimore Sun. 
  23. ^ "Junior USTA Interscholastic Championships". USTA Yearbook. United States Tennis Association. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "". 
  26. ^ Lowell Davis (19 August 2008). "Summer '08 - Lowell in the Big City". Lowell's Blog. Landon School. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  27. ^ Katherine Thurston (October 2002). "Teddy Sears". About One Life to Live Fans Guide. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  28. ^ "National Reporting Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  29. ^ "". 
  30. ^ University of Virginia Athletics Men's Lacrosse. "Player Bio: Matt Ward". UVA Athletics. University of Virginia. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  31. ^ "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