Brooklyn Latin School
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|The Brooklyn Latin School|
223 Graham Avenue|
|Type||Public, magnet school, secondary school, specialized high school|
|Motto||To whom much has been given, from him much will be expected.|
|Number of students||562|
|Color(s)||Purple and white|
|Newspaper||The Brooklyn Latineer|
The Brooklyn Latin School is a specialized high school in New York City, founded in 2006. The ideals governing Brooklyn Latin are borrowed largely from the Boston Latin School, and popular society's ideals. John Elwell, the school's founder, and Jason Griffiths, administer and monitor the school. As of 2013, Jason Griffiths had left the school to lead a troubled high school in New York. The new headmaster is previous math teacher Gina Mauschke.
Admission to Brooklyn Latin involves passing the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. Each November, about 30,000 eighth and ninth graders take the 3-hour test for admittance to eight of the nine specialized high schools. Approximately 550 to 600 applicants are accepted each year. It is the second specialized high school in Brooklyn (along with Brooklyn Technical High School) and has the distinction of being the only specialized high school in which students adhere to a school uniform. The school color, purple, reflects the preference of Roman nobility, who wore robes dyed in that color and is also the school color of the Boston Latin School, another borrowed trait.
The school spent its first six years at 325 Bushwick Avenue, in limited space. In 2013 it moved to 223 Graham Avenue, not far from the previous school.
Course of study
Unlike nearly all other specialized high schools, Brooklyn Latin has a strong focus on the humanities and classics. All students are required to take four years of English, History, Latin and a modern foreign language. The Brooklyn Latin School is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school and offers the IB Diploma and its mandatory classes. All classes regularly hold Socratic Seminars, in which students lead roundtable question-and-answer discussions, and all students take part in declamation (public speaking) exercises.
In disciplines such as English and History, there is a focus on classical studies, and all students receive a grounding in literary and historical traditions before graduating. Latin instruction begins during the first year and continues throughout.
IB at TBLS
The Brooklyn Latin School is the only specialized high school in New York City that has implemented the IB Diploma Programme. The mission of International Baccalaureate aligns with and expands the vision of the Brooklyn Latin School. In particular, IB has translated its mission into a Learner Profile of ten characteristics (inquiring, thoughtful, expressive, knowledgeable, principled, open-minded, caring, balanced, risk-taking and reflective) that reflect the ideals of personal responsibility and moral integrity on which the Brooklyn Latin School was founded.
In addition, participation in IB coursework benefits students in the college admission process by allowing them to conduct college-level work throughout their high school careers. Universities around the globe recognize the rigor and value of an IB education, and IB Diploma holders are widely considered more prepared for the challenges of collegiate life than their peers, even those who have completed equitable Advanced Placement work. In 2003, applicants to major universities throughout the US were accepted at an average rate of at least 200% higher than applicants with no IB experience. Many universities also award academic credit for successful examination results in specific subject areas or after completion of the half IB Diploma.
Because Brooklyn Latin is a school based on Greco-Roman ideals, many Latin names are used instead of commonplace school terms. Below is a list of some Brooklyn Latin nomenclature:
- Recitation – period
- Latrina – restroom
- Atrium – hallway
- Annota, annotare, annotavi, annotatus – every assignment
- Palaestra – gymnasium
- Conclave cognitionibus – study hall
- Discipulus – male students
- Discipula – female students
- Discipuli – students (in general)
- Magister – male teacher
- Magistra – female teacher
- Magistri – teachers (in general)
A standing tradition of the Brooklyn Latin school is the extensive trips that take place. In freshman year, the students go to Boston to visit their sister school. Any newly employed magistri are also asked to go. When senior year arrives, the students visit Italy.
Every year incoming freshmen are encouraged to go to their orientation, as this school is much different from other public high schools. The first two days are considered 'getting to know your building and things around you.' After that the freshmen take a trip to the Princeton-Blairstown Center, a camp in Princeton, New Jersey. They do team building exercises to ready themselves for what they will be doing for the next four years. The entire orientation adds up to five days. Student mentors and teachers also help as the freshmen transition into their new high school life.
Each year, The Brooklyn Latin School celebrates Founders' Day to recognize the hard work of those individuals and partner organizations—magistri, discipuli, staff, parents, Replications, Inc., Boston Latin School—who have made and continue to make the school's formative years a success. Prize declamation is also one tradition of Founder's Day. Founders' Day reminds those in the Brooklyn Latin School community of their roots, and it inspires them to live up to the school's tradition of excellence.
The Brooklyn Latin School subscribes to the classical belief that to be a leader in any field, academic or otherwise, one needs to be well-spoken. As Cicero notes in De Oratore, mastering the art of speech involves mastering all of the arts. Those trained to speak well possess sharper memories, better writing skills, and more expansive areas of expertise.
That they may enjoy these advantages, Brooklyn Latin School students must take part in declamation. In declamation, students must memorize a passage from a text, such as Dante's "Commedia", and then declaim it before the faculty and fellow students. Each year, four in-class declamations are held in English and History, with an additional four public declamations held for students who wish to audition to declaim before the entire Brooklyn Latin School community.
The last of these public events is Prize Declamation. Being selected as the declaimer for Prize Declamation is one of the highest honors the Brooklyn Latin School bestows. Only students who have auditioned and declaimed in Public Declamation are eligible to audition for Prize Declamation. Some are selected. Activities such as these assure that students learn to speak clearly and with confidence, and it follows Cicero's advice that the one crucial ingredient to becoming an eloquent speaker is practice.
Prize night is an event that celebrates the special accomplishments of individual discipuli as well as the entire student body over their four years at TBLS. Held on the night before graduation, prize night goes beyond academic commendation to also celebrate students who have made contributions in the arts, to their communities, and in other areas that go into making a well-rounded student.
Academic success is an integral aspect of the culture of the Brooklyn Latin School. From the start, the school's aim has been to create a culture where academic success and intellectual achievement are valued, honored, and celebrated. Four times each year, the school comes together to celebrate the academic achievements of discipuli in each subject for the previous term. This is known as the Approbation Ceremony. Awards are given for academics, attendance, and community service.
Brooklyn Latin is unique in that it is the only specialized high school with a dress code. All boys wear khaki pants, white shirts and ties; girls wear either skirts or khaki pants with white shirts. All students are required to wear a neck piece: a tie, cross bow, or a bow tie that is school appropriate. Amendments to the uniform are only allowed for medical or religious reasons.
Admission to the Brooklyn Latin School is based exclusively on an entrance examination, known as the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT), open to all eighth and ninth grade New York City students. The test covers math (word problems and computation) and verbal (reading comprehension, logical reasoning, unscrambling paragraphs) skills. Out of the approximately 30,000 students taking the entrance examination for the September 2011 admission round (with 14,529 students listing Brooklyn Latin as a choice on their application), about 572 offers were made, making for an acceptance rate of 3.9%. For the incoming freshmen, they will be the first to graduate. They have been distinguished as being the largest class size, thus far, of two hundred.
- Specialized High Schools Student Handbook 2011-2012 (PDF). NYC Department of Education. 2011. p. 5.
- "Specialized High Schools Student Handbook 2011-2012" (PDF). NYC Department of Education. Retrieved 1 March 2012.