Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Latin School in Philadelphia

A really interesting article on the new Boys' Latin School in the Philadelphia Weekly. Here's the beginning:

An ambitious Southwest Philadelphia charter school uses an ancient language as a new formula for learning.

There are minefields on the path to maturity for every young person in this city. But for many young male Philadelphians, the danger runs deeper.

Young men in Philadelphia public schools are more likely than most to live with one parent, have a parent in jail, reside in drug-addled neighborhoods or experience violence. Students in too many Philadelphia public schools can’t be guaranteed basic safety, let alone a decent education.

Enter the Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School, a new college prep school at 55th and Cedar in Southwest Philadelphia with an ambitious plan to avert the tragedy that defines the city’s public school system. Boys’ Latin’s first batch of students—144 ninth-graders—occupy a 10-room temporary structure as they wait for contractors to finish renovations on the building next door.

Last year there were 11 murders within five blocks of where Boys’ Latin sits. “I worry about the students,” says teacher Paula Sahm, who lives in the Art Museum area of Philadelphia. “I’ll sit and watch the news, and if I even hear Southwest Philly, I get chills.”

Next to the trailer setup is the shell of a former school, once attached to Transfiguration Church, which was destroyed by fire in 2006. Boards cover most of the windows, and pickup trucks occupy most of the adjacent lot. But by next year the school building plans to house 300 Boys’ Latin students, with plans to grow enrollment to 600 by 2010.

The school's website is here.

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