Tempus fugit for 150-year-old Boys' Latin School

May 08, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

Boys' Latin School of Maryland reveled in its 150-year history yesterday by celebrating the accomplishments of former students and leaving behind mementos for future students.

Maryland's oldest, independent nonsectarian school honored its past and future by burying a time capsule, inducting 12 alumni into a new Hall of Fame and dedicating a garden in memory of a 1991 graduate who was killed when he refused to sell a ballpoint pen to a stranger.

The daylong homecoming event also was a time "to bring alumni back and renew old friendships," said Dyson Ehrhardt, a 1959 graduate of Boys' Latin and its director of alumni relations and development. Mr. Ehrhardt helped organize yesterday's event, which featured carnival rides, games, crafts, lacrosse matches and a baseball game.

Founded by Evert Marsh Topping in 1844, the school originally was at 870 Linden Ave. A Princeton graduate and ancient language scholar, Topping introduced Latin in the sixth grade.

In 1897, the school moved to 1008 Brevard St., near the current site of Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, but was demolished in 1960 to make way for urban renewal. That year, the school opened on West Lake Avenue, its location today.

Yesterday, the school celebrated its history with a time capsule that contained student essays, a gym uniform, student handbook and a history of the institution written by 1938 graduate and former Headmaster Jack Williams, who died in 1978. The time capsule will be opened in 50 years, for the school's 200th anniversary.

The school paid tribute to former students.

Groups of mourners gathered under maroon-and-gray umbrellas to dedicate a garden in memory of former student Charles M. Willis. He was killed last year when a 24-year-old Arnold man, Thomas J. Cummings, shot him with a 9 mm handgun. Mr. Cummings later turned the gun on himself.

The Rev. Terry W. Schoener said the garden, adorned with red geraniums and benches, will not only perpetuate Mr. Willis' memory but will show the school's support for the end of handgun violence.

"Charlie's death still gives new life, new possibilities to the future," said Dr. Schoener, pastor of Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park. "This will be a place for young people to reflect upon" their lives.

The memorial ceremony included the dedication of benches to Stephen M. Early, who taught Spanish at Boys' Latin for 21

years, and Kenneth C. Miller Jr., a 1948 graduate who was hired as the school's plant manager in 1987.

Twelve former students were inducted in the school's first Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame. The inductees include George M. S. Riepe Sr., who graduated in 1940 with nine varsity letters. He received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star in World War II. Mr. Riepe served in the 77th Infantry Division and rose to the rank of first lieutenant.

Mr. Riepe said that, despite some changes, the school continues to meet boys' intellectual, emotional and physical needs.

"The school has always gone out of its way to help students, not just concentrating on 'A' students" but on those who have abilities outside the classroom as well.

Headmaster A. Hamilton Bishop III said the school gives young men an education that prepares them for life beyond college.

Boys' Latin School produces "wonderful young men," Mr. Bishop said. "I hope they're well-rounded. I hope they have a good solid education and contribute to the school community in some way."

Students, parents and faculty said the school's small class sizes enable teachers to pay close attention to students.

"My boy has flourished," said Katheryn Arnold, whose son Judson attends second grade at Boys' Latin. "It's a very nurturing environment."

John Ehrhardt, 12, agreed.

"Everybody is around to help you at school and at home," said John, a Towson sixth-grader who has attended Boys' Latin for two years. "Everybody's respectful and supportive of each other."

Frederick A. Bianco, a 1967 graduate, returned in June to become dean of admissions.

"It's just this magnetism," Mr. Bianco said. "Most alumni are very dedicated and committed to the school."

Caring is what distinguishes Boys' Latin from other private schools, said Mr. Ehrhardt.

Faculty and students "care about each other," he said. "I don't think you need a better word than that."

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