In late November, our family attended the Washington Latin open house. To say it was well-attended is an understatement. It was held in the school’s great hall (multi-purpose room), which is huge and still packed and standing room only. There were many familiar faces in the crowd. I’m pretty certain at least two thirds of the families there were from schools in our neighborhood and about a dozen from our children’s school alone.

I note this because in a school system where it’s not a given that the majority of elementary students will automatically flow into a common destination middle school, it’s important that my son would hopefully have a few familiar faces around from his community. It would also have the very practical advantage of friends from the neighborhood to carpool with, facilitating after school activities. As the children get older and look to participate in more activities, I’m realizing how important their friends and their friends’ parents become to us. I know this is true, as I write this while sitting through my daughter’s gymnastics class (that she takes with her best friend) in Maryland, while my son is at the best friends’s house playing with her older brother. Takes a village…

Coming back to Latin, the sense of community described by the school’s students, teachers, and Diana, a CHM@L parent, whose perspective I value, it’s easy to see why the room was so crowded. I do want my children to always be a part of a community that can depend on each other.

On academics, the presentation was really impressive. Sounds like teachers coordinate lessons so that while students may be learning math in one period and history in another, both classes have a common context, making the lessons relateable and integrated. It also says a bit about communicatiom within the school, which hopefully translates to good communication with families.

One of the teachers demonstrated a lesson, asking children to answer the question, “if they could teach any subject, what should it be?”  Children were asked to volunteer answers and support their position, which made for an interactive experience, indicating that critical thinking is promoted…

My long list of questions weren’t answered, but I’ll be back to their parent info night this month. Here are a few questions answered via the Q/A session that night.

  • Homework? Teachers try to make homework a productive activity to promote repetition, remdiation and give students opportunity to expand on a topic. Volume to expect is 30-45 mins/night for 5th graders, 1 hour for 6th graders, 1.5 for 7th graders… (I should note that parents of a couple of 5th graders shared that their children soend closer to two hours/night…l but it was the beginning of the year and perhaps it was a matter of establishing the habit?)
  • Math? Math groups according to a placement test… 7/8th take algebra… Goal is to get kids to algebra 2 by 10th grade. Honors at every subject at every level.
  • How does recess or free time fit into the schedules? (this one came from the very engaged group of Montessori boys 🙂 ). Free time to run around at lunch after they eat and after school. Hmmm… Will have to follow up on this.
  • Aftercare? Outsourced and offers various activities.. Athletics are offered, hobbies $15/day.
  • Extra-curricular offerings? Noncompetitive sports offerings each season after school.
  • Library will be staffed with a librarian (not sure if full-time). It will contain volumes mostly meant for pleasure reading, not much reference texts, as research will be conducted online. (good stuff!)
  • Diversity? Faculty is not as racially diverse as student body.
  • Latin has a PTA.  Families do fundraising to support programming, enrichment.
  • Communication w families? Electronic newsletter is circulated weekly. (Legenda)
  • Behavior management? Demerit system.

More information here: http://www.latinpcs.org/