Washington Latin Public Charter School made history on June 8 when its first students graduated. It marked the first time students graduated from a D.C. public school with a classical curriculum. The school also has the distinction of having every student in its first senior class accepted to college.

Among the graduates were local students Kortlen Coleman and Malik Rasheed.

The composition of the senior class reflects the school’s mission to make a “challenging classical education accessible to students from throughout the District of Columbia.”  The graduates come from all eight wards of the City, and the ethnic mix of the students closely matches that of the city itself.  A third of the students come from low-income families, and many are the first members of their families to attend college.

Latin’s graduating seniors were accepted by a total of 120 colleges and universities such as UCLA, the University of Wisconsin, Bennington, the Citadel, Bucknell and Pepperdine.

They have already been awarded more than $1.5 million in academic scholarships.

Washington Latin was modeled after Boston Latin, the nation’s first public school, founded in 1635. Its curriculum is based on the ancient truths of Greece and Rome and complemented with courses to prepare students for today’s global world. Students take at least three years of Latin and either French, Chinese or Arabic in addition. Extensive studies in math and science are offered at each grade level. The school’s independent reading program fosters a love of reading.

The school’s enrollment has grown from 179 in 2006 to 574 in 2011. Because there are many more applications than available seats, students are chosen by lottery.

The next step in Latin’s development is a new home. The school is now planning to consolidate all three of its current facilities in one location. No site has yet been chosen.

–The Southwester staff

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