Spreading Latin’s Influence Across Chicago

Johnny Gross Co-Editor-In-Chief With modifications to the admission process in the past few years, Latin is trying to change the way outsiders view our community. Some, who don’t even consider applying to Latin, have a common and unfortunate misconception that the school supports an exclusive, homogenized community, meant for people of a specific demographic and class. The stark irony of such a statement might be clear to the current members of the community, but a focused effort to share our diverse, close-knit community with potential newcomers is currently underway, with the admission staff operating under a belief often preached by Mr. Dunn, that we need to stay true to our name, the Latin School of Chicago, and reach out to people from all around the city. Upper School Director of Enrollment and Financial Aid Mr. Lord has been working closely with Mrs. Salzman and Mrs. Monarrez on the recent improvements to the Latin application process. Many students have already gotten involved in the new tour program that is replacing pre-acceptance shadow days. “There were a couple of negatives with the shadow program,” said Ms. Salzman when asked the reason behind this change. “Kids who would shadow Latin students would often miss a day of school, which was the main issue from our standpoint. Shadow-students also ran the risk of being paired with a Latin student that they didn’t have much in common with. Also, shadow-students were sometimes stuck with a Latin student who had a day full of free period or a day full of assessments. This was not a consistent or efficient way to show-off our school.” The shadow days also gave a narrow showing of the school to the visiting students, who followed around one Latin student and his or her friends, not privy to the general structure of the school or the diversity of the student body. Unbeknownst to many outsiders, Latin has students from over 60 zip codes in Chicago. The main benefit of the tour program is its ability to candidly showcase Latin students and their daily lives. “The tour really involves the Latin students, who run the tours, in the application process. No one shows off Latin better than our own students, and with these tours our students can develop leadership and public speaking skills. So far, we have gotten excellent feedback on the tours.” After getting a full tour of the school, visitors of the Latin community are quickly able to refute previous misconceptions, which wasn’t always possible with shadow days. But before even signing up for a tour at Latin, students around the city are entitled to some information about our school. Latin has attended middle school fairs for years, but this year they have already attended more and in neighborhoods all around the city to attract a student body true to our name. “We have already attended a wide variety of schools,” said Mrs. Salzman. “We have gone to see some of the same schools as in the past such as Lincoln Elementary, FXW, and Catharine Cook but also newer schools such as UNO Charter School, KIPP, Metro Achievement Center, Passages Charter, and many more. I couldn’t name them all for you! We have also attended the High Jump Fair because Latin and High Jump have a strong relationship, and many High Jump students come to Latin for high school.” Mrs. Monarrez also offered her opinion on Latin’s increased presence at school fairs. “We’re not only visiting more schools, but we’re bringing along student and parent volunteers. Latin students’ participation in these fairs is very valuable and offers a perspective that the middle school students can relate to. We often bring Latin students to the middle schools that they graduated from to represent their previous school’s alumni at Latin.”   Perhaps most important, argued Mrs. Monarrez and Mrs. Salzman, is the input of the parent volunteers. “They have been so generous and willing to help, and they offer a really unique perspective that has made our presence at school fairs very well-received,” said Mrs. Monarrez. They both mentioned that one of the main goals of going to these school fairs is to portray Latin as a strong, diverse school with a welcoming and supportive community. Mr. Lord finally gave his view on the changing Latin admissions and publication process, playing off many of the sentiments mentioned by Mrs. Salzman and Mrs. Monarrez. “We’re really trying to make the process as transparent and user friendly as possible,” said Mr. Lord. “We’ve even begun using a new online application program called Ravenna, that is much easier and more efficient than the process in the past. It is a lot like the common app for college applications: applicants build one profile and apply to every member school based on that profile. The Ravenna account is free and the application process, especially uploading transcripts, is much more efficient.” Mr. Lord also discussed the increased advertisement of Latin throughout the entire city. “We started doing bus ads a few year ago. The point of it is to attract students from all around the city.” He concluded by relaying the popular statement of Mr. Dunn. “Mr. Dunn always says that we are the Latin School of Chicago and in order to stick to our name and maintain our status, we have to go all around the city and tell everyone about our school. We need to search for the best teachers and students all around chicago.” This improved approach to admissions and publication is quickly offering outsiders to the Latin School of Chicago the truth, that we are not a uniform body of people, but a diverse and intelligent community composed of members from different neighborhoods from North, South, East, and West Chicago.]]>