Who is the Stereotypical Latin Kid?

Clare Hardiman What is the Latin Kid Stereotype? From my own experience attending Latin since the fifth grade to my conversations with numerous adults asking about my school, I have formed an idea of what the ‘Latin kid’ stereotype actually is. After interviewing three freshmen – two lifers and one new high school student – I have realized there’s a stigma that comes along with attending our school. Although Latin is one of the most prestigious independent private schools in the country with a nurturing environment, supportive teachers, and exceptional opportunities, I, along with other Latin students, have often experienced this nagging stigma.   Many students believe this stigma stems from Latin’s hefty tuition. For most families across America, paying over thirty-thousand dollars a year is a massive portion of their income. Even paying that much for college tuition would be a stretch, let alone for high school. Most people living in Chicago realize how much it costs to attend Latin and thus make assumptions about the kind of people we are and the kind of families we come from. In leaving his previous school and adjusting to Latin’s philosophy and environment, new freshman Gabriel Moreno said that, “I still want to be Mexican, but others think I don’t. It’s because now a lot of my friend group is white, I have stopped swearing a lot and have just sort of taken on Latin’s etiquette. Because of that, I “gentrified” myself.” According to Moreno, Latin students are stereotyped as ‘white and proper,’ and he was willing to change certain aspects of himself to match who he thought others wanted him to be.   When others question our work ethic and identity, their assumptions can degrade our self-confidence, but it’s our job to utilize the opportunities Latin provides. According to freshman Sehar Dey-Kohli, “the stereotype of the Latin student is a mix of pros and cons. When you say you go to Latin, the majority of people assume that your family is quite affluent, and that you’re the typical “rich brat” who isn’t considerate or well-brought up. Some believe that we don’t have much ambition, and that we rely on our parents a lot.” However, people who know Latin students and families personally not only realize how impressive of a school Latin is because of the small classes and exemplary student to teacher ratio, but because of how hard most kids work to sustain their grades, be kind to others, compete athletically, and pursue their own personal interests. Sehar adds that Latin kids are “hardworking, caring, and worldly…[we] are capable of making a difference. I think it’s useful to have some negative stereotypes of the typical Latin Kid so that we can work against them and prove them wrong.” Similarly, freshman and lifer Rose Branson believes that “Latin kids are seen as … either lazy rich spoiled brats or impossibly perfect geniuses and star athletes. In reality, neither of these two descriptions come close to being accurate.” What distinguishes the Latin School from other schools in Chicago is the inviting environment, as well as the dedicated teachers who allow students to succeed and test themselves beyond their limits.   We go to Latin for reasons that are different from what others think. Our parents or guardians are paying over thirty-thousand dollars because they want us to have the best educational experience. Attending Latin is a privilege, and we’re the lucky few that are granted it. No matter how incorrect people’s preconceived notions of Latin students are, it’s our job to prove them wrong. To prove that Latin is not a school for spoiled kids to slack off or get special treatment but rather an inclusive school aimed to help us grow to reach our full potential. ]]>