Boston Latin School

The Boston Latin School, which was founded on April 23, 1635, is located in Boston, Massachusetts and is the first and oldest public school in the United States. The school’s motto “Sumus Primi,” Latin for “We are first,” is a reputation that the school continues to follow to this day. From its inception, the Boston Latin School has been the foremost institution in educating the sons of Boston’s elite and has had many prominent Bostonians as its alumni. The school regards knowledge of the classics as the cornerstone of its education. Latin is a mandatory study and all students have to learn it for 3 to 4 years.

History of Boston Latin

When it first started, Boston Latin had very few students who were originally instructed in the home of their teacher. Now the school has 2400 students who come from all parts of Boston for their education. Since many of Boston’s original settlers were from Lincolnshire in the UK, the school was modeled after the Boston Grammar School in Lincolnshire, England. Boston Latin takes pride that each year an average of 25 students from their school are admitted to Harvard University. Boston Latin was an all-male institution until the 19th century when Helen Magill White stormed the bastion and became the first female graduate and the first American woman to earn a Doctorate. Soon after, the Girls Latin School was formed and for nearly a century thereafter, girls were educated there. It was not until 1972, that Boston Latin became co-educational.


Boston Latin has maintained extremely high standards which are consistent with the elite prep schools of New England, alongside egalitarian admission policies. The school has consistently been rated very high in academic achievements which has been measured by yearly MCAS assessments, a mandatory requirement for all Massachusetts public schools.

Admission Policy

The school teaches 7th grade through the 12th grade; admission is restricted to Boston residents only. Their admission policy is based on recent grades as well as the student’s ranking in the Independent School Entrance Examination. They only accept students in the 7th and 9th grade. Boston Latin has been notorious for its highly competitive “sink or swim” environment, however a more supportive atmosphere has been created recently to lessen the pressure on students.

School Curriculum

The school has a tradition of declamations and all students between the 7th and 10th grades have to give an oration three times a year for their English class. There is also public declamation, where students who qualify can compete for the “Declamation Prize.” There are also oratorical competitions in languages other than English.

The school’s top ranking pupils are awarded the prestigious ‘Franklin Medals’. The school’s second most prestigious award, the “Dixwell Prizes,” are given to the students who excel in Latin or Greek.

Publications, Extracurricular Activities, and Sports

There are two main publications maintained by the school. The first, “The Register,” was founded in 1881. It is the school’s literary magazine and is published twice a year. The second publication is “The Argo,” which is the school’s newspaper. It is currently published seven times a year. Both publications are entirely student driven.

Boston Latin sports teams are identified as the “Boston Latin Wolfpack.” They have a wolf’s paw as their Logo and purple and white are their team colors. Though their sports teams have been very good, titles have been few and far between.

Boston Latin offers many extracurricular activities. Some of them are:

  • BLS YouthCAN – undertakes community projects
  • BLSTV – the school’s internal TV. It has a news bulletin and covers school events
  • Boston Latin Theatre Company – promotes plays and musicals
  • Junior Classic League – involved in deeper academic study of the classics
  • Mock Trial – the school participates in the ‘Mock Trial’ program sponsored by the Massachusetts Bar Association and has won many laurels
  • Musical Arts – the school has an extensive music program which promotes music in a wide array of fields
  • NUTRONS Robotics Team – encourages engagement in robotics.
  • Wolfpack Volunteers – encourages students to participate in volunteer activities.


Boston Latin boasts of an array of stellar alumni who have distinguished themselves in many fields. 5 of the 56 who signed the original Declaration of Independence, Adams, Franklin, Hancock, Hooper and Paine, were students of Boston Latin. Some of the other notable alumni include Bernstein, Fitzgerald, Kennedy, Mather, Quincy, Santayana, Winthrop etc. The Boston Latin Alumni Association takes active interest in fund raising and other activities at the school.

Boston Latin, more than three centuries old, has a legacy to be proud of. Thousands of students have passed through its portals and have gone on to make important contributions to society.

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