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InTomas Scottow died leaving his property to the town of Boston. Town leaders converted his home into the residence of the Boston Latin School, then called the Free School. They built the first schoolhouse in America beside the home.


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Boston Latin School is the oldest school in America. The curriculum of the school is centered in the humanities, its founders sharing with the ancient Greeks the belief that the only good things are the goods of the soul. Edmund Burke referred to America as exemplifying the "dissidence of dissent. Establishment of the school was due in great measure to the influence of the Reverend John Cotton, who sought to create in the New World a school like the Free Grammar School of Boston, England, in which Latin and Greek were taught.

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The first classes were held in the home of the Master, Philemon Pormort see Footnotes. From the earliest years the town ased public funds to the support of the school. It was eventually voted "to allow forever fifty pounds to the Master, and a house, and thirty pounds to an usher" assistant teacher.

InPormort's assistant, Daniel Maude, succeeded him as Master, and conducted classes in his own home until Little is known of Maude's successor, John Woodbridge, except that he is supposed to have been the first minister at Andover and that he remained in office for approximately one year. InRobert Woodmansey became the schoolmaster with a salary of "fifty pounds a year.

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Cheever was well known throughout the colonies, for he had written the famous Accidence, which was the accepted Latin grammar. Upon his death on August 21,Cotton Mather, the renowned divine, remarked, "We generally concur in acknowledging that New England has never known a better teacher. Nathaniel Williams, the first pupil to become Head Master, succeeded Cheever. When he re-ed inhis assistant, John Lovell, was appointed to the vacancy, becoming "the pride of Boston's parents and the terror of its youth.

Admission to the school during Lovell's regime was determined by reading a few verses from the Bible. Members of the six or seven classes of the school sat at different benches.

The students studied Latin and Greek and the "elementary subjects. School d at one o'clock in the afternoon and ran until five. After either the eleven o'clock hour, the five o'clock hour, or both, the pupils attended a writing school nearby.

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On Thursdays the school was dismissed at ten o'clock, in order that the pupils might have the opportunity of attending the "Thursday Lecture" — another heritage from Boston, England. InLovell's son James was appointed usher. He was an ardent patriot, whereas his father was a strong loyalist.

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They taught from desks at opposite ends of the schoolroom, and voicing opposite political convictions, they typified many a Boston family in those trying times. In winter it was not unusual for the boys to bring their sleds to school with them and, as soon as school was over, to coast down Beacon Street, across Tremont, and down School Street.

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During the winter of General Haldimand see Footnotesa commander of British troops under General Gage, lived on School Street and had one of his servants ruin the coasting area by putting ashes on it. On the morning of April 19,one of the most dramatic episodes in the history of the school occurred. John Lovell angrily announced, "War's begun and school's done; deponite libros. James was later exchanged and became a delegate to the Continental Congress. The Elder Lovell died at Halifax in School was d under Samuel Hunt, who ruled with some difficulty until He was succeeded by William Bigelow, who reed after nine trying years.

Benjamin Apthorp Gould, appointed Head Master in while still a senior at Harvard, restored order and scholarship. Many features of the Latin School of today -- among them the "misdemeanor mark" and the practice of declamation -- were initiated under Gould.

He also fostered the beginnings of a library and issued regular reports of scholarship to parents, placing squarely on them the responsibility for the pupils' conduct. Gould reed in to enter business and was succeeded by his assistant, Frederic Percival Leverett, the author of the famous Leverett's Latin Lexicon.

Leverett left in to become head of a private school. The next Head Master, Charles Knapp Dillaway, was in office untilwhen ill health forced him to re. When Dixwell reed inFrancis Gardner, one of the most celebrated men of mid-nineteenth century Boston, was appointed his successor.

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Gardner edited the famous series of Latin School textbooks. A rugged, forthright character, he made both friends and enemies.

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During the last six years of his Head Mastership, he unsuccessfully opposed the imposition on the school of a "general culture" curriculum. He died inthe first Head Master to die in office since Ezekiel Cheever.

Augustine Milton Gay was chosen as his successor, but he lived only a few months after his appointment. Moses Merrill was appointed next and continued in office until His contribution to the school was the reorganization of the curriculum on a more modern basis. Arthur Irving Fiske became Head Master in One of the ablest scholars in Massachusetts, he was loved and respected by his pupils. He reed in and was succeeded by Henry Pennypacker, who brought to the office of Head Master not only the mind of the scholar but also the rugged personality of the athlete.

He reed in to become chairman of the Committee on Admissions at Harvard. His work there made him a figure of national importance.

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He died in Enrollment doubled during his tenure. Even with this rapid growth, the school for four years in succession, from toobtained the highest average in college entrance examinations. This secured for the school permanent possession of the trophy given by the Harvard chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. InMr. Campbell left to become an assistant superintendent of schools and inwas elected Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools, a position he held until his death in Joseph Lawrence Powers, '96, a Master in the school for twenty-three years, was appointed Campbell's successor.

A soft-spoken, courteous man, Dr, Powers exerted an incalculable influence for nearly fifty years. He sustained the school's excellence through years of depression and war.

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He was also an energetic champion of the economic welfare of the Masters. From his retirement in until his death inhe was dedicated to the prosperity of both the school and its alumni. George Leonard McKim, '18, succeeded Powers in A veteran of two world wars, Mr. McKim gave over thirty years of service to the Boston Public Schools. During his tenure of office, the school received a great deal of publicity.

National magazines reported favorably on the methods and standards of the school.

The performances of the students on the National Merit Scholarship Examinations proved that these commendations were justified. John Joseph Doyle, '12, became Head Master of his alma mater in Under Mr. Doyle's capable leadership, many changes were made in the school's curriculum. Four distinct courses -- language, science, mathematics, and history -- were set up in the upper classes More electives and accelerated courses were also offered. The Advanced Placement program was established, giving many students the chance to receive credit for college courses on the freshman level.

Doyle retired in June, after having served in the Boston Public School system for over forty years.

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Wilfred L. Doyle's successor in September, As Head Master, Dr. O'Leary devoted himself to preserving the high standards of the school. Dr O'Leary was the recipient of several awards for his outstanding educational leadership. During his tenure, Boston Latin School welcomed women students for the first time in September, He was honored by teachers, alumni and friends of the school when he retired in June, David Miller, a teacher at the school for over thirty years, assumed the position of Acting Head Master in September of Michael G.

Contompasis, '57, was appointed Head Master in April, Continuing the tradition of excellence, Mr. Contompasis broadened the educational vistas of the school.

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As a result, national attention was focused once more on Boston Latin School. In the fall ofMoney magazine rated BLS as one of the twelve top public schools in the country. Sumus primi. Joseph F. Desmond, '44, both teacher and department chairman at his alma mater for thirty-four years, assumed the position of Acting Head Master during the academic year, when Head Master Contompasis was on sabbatical for study at Harvard University.

Upon returning to his position in SeptemberMr. Contompasis oversaw both the renovation of the main building and the construction of a new physical education building.

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In recognition of his outstanding leadership, Mr. Cornelia A. Kelley H'44 was appointed Head Master in Augustthe first woman to serve in that post. Kelley oversaw the construction of an addition devoted to the arts, with state of the art music and visual arts facilities, as well as a thorough renovation of the existing facilities.

In the old cafeteria was built the Harry V. Keefe Library-Media Center, the most advanced school library in the world. In addition, the entire school was upgraded to the latest technologies appropriate to education.