Brooklyn Latin School, The
Classical education with four years of Latin
May intimidate teens who fear public speaking
Brooklyn Latin is an unapologetically work-hard kind of place, where assignments are closely critiqued and public speaking is fostered. Every child takes four years of Latin and laboratory science and writes an extended research essay. Top universities eagerly recruit Brooklyn Latin students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college.
One of the citys nine specialized high schools, Brooklyn Latin was founded in 2006 and is modeled after Boston Latin, the nations oldest public high school. Brooklyn Latin is the only specialized school (and one of few in the city) to offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, a rigorous degree widely accepted at universities in more than 100 countries.
Brooklyn Latin has an English-boarding-school aesthetic. Students wear white shirts and khaki trousers or skirts. Boys wear neckties.
Public speaking is an important part of the school's culture. Students participate in Socratic seminars, in which they learn by communicating according to formal rules of discussion. In declamations, students must memorize a poem or speech to present to peers. Ive seen kids who want to be flies on the wall really develop their voices, said art teacher Kathleen Busoni.
What impresses longtime assistant headmaster Alina Lewis is the way students stand and deliver, through tears and memory gaps, and how they improve over time. The public speaking we saw was impressive, from a recitation from "Antigone" by a visibly nervous sophomore, to a passionate debate in a senior seminar on the inequities of education.
The school also prides itself on its strong math and science program. In an atypical sequence, freshmen begin with physics, followed by chemistry and two years of IB biology. Juniors and seniors may elect to take IB chemistry or IB physics as well. These students spend about half their day immersed in college-level science work, said Headmaster Gina Mautschke. Bridge design, solar cell efficiency and seed germination are some former student-designed lab topics culminating in 8-10 page papers.
Juniors and seniors also take English, history, math and theory of knowledge (a philosophy class unique to IB) and may choose among Spanish, visual arts or world religions as electives. Some subjects, like math, biology and Latin, are split into higher and lower levels of difficulty. [Note: The school does not offer advanced placement classes; IB classes are considered even more demanding.]
To help with freshmen years steep learning curve, students receive support in advisory groups. Those who need more are encouraged to meet with teachers during office hours. There are two college counselors and two guidance counselors.
Freshmen travel to the Princeton-Blairstown Center, affiliated with Princeton University, for an outdoor bonding adventure in the fall. In the spring they visit Boston Latin and area colleges. The Spanish department organizes home stays in Spanish-speaking countries; some seniors travel to Italy.
Brooklyn Latin moved in 2013 from the top floors of PS 147 to the IS 49 building, trading places with Young Women's Leadership School of Brooklyn. It gained a gym, an art studio and science labs; it also now shares space with two schools and is located at the heart of Williamsburg Houses.
Administrators say students have had no complaints about safety; nevertheless, students are advised to walk to and from the G or L train in groups, and an administrator is outside during arrival and dismissal times, which are staggered with the other schools. The schools share some sports and clubs, a full list of which can be found on the schools website.
A former math teacher and assistant headmaster, Gina Mautschke became headmaster in 2013, replacing founding headmaster Jason Griffiths, who now serves as director of programs at the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education.
One-third of graduates typically receive the IB diploma.
College: Students are encouraged to apply to colleges out of state as well as SUNYs and CUNYs. Recent college acceptances include Smith, Vassar, Amherst, Brown, Cornell and Emory.
Special education: The few children with special needs are incorporated into general classes. A special ed tutor provides assistance in a variety of ways, such as helping a student color code his work to stay organized, or offering a safe space for a student to practice a memorized speech until she feels comfortable doing it in front of a group.
Admissions: Specialized high school exam. The school loses about 25 9th-graders each year and accepts about 20 10th-graders. (Lydie Raschka, November 2014)
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Programs and Admissions
Admission to this Specialized High School is based solely on the score obtained on the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT). Students should speak to their school counselors in the Fall to register for the SHSAT.
Greek, Latin, Spanish
Boys PSAL teams
Girls PSAL teams
Cross Country, Volleyball
Brooklyn NY 11206