It is no secret that despite more and more rigorous admissions policies, there are certain high schools that send a disproportionate number of students to Harvard. Boston Latin, Philips Exeter and Philips Andover, the list goes on; all these schools have long established academic traditions that allow their students to distinguish themselves for the admissions office.
There are certain schools that endear themselves to Dean Fitzsimmons and company for another reason: their athletic programs. Over the next few weeks, I will be exploring this interplay between academics and athletics in the admissions process. Last time, we took a look at two public schools in California, Corona del Mar and Los Gatos, which almost exclusively send athletes to Harvard. Now we shift our focus to a public school in Harvard’s backyard: the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Despite sending upwards of 10 students to Harvard every year, CRLS student-athletes are a rarity on Crimson rosters.
PROXIMITY AND PERFORMANCE
The Cambridge Rindge and Latin School is located at 1640 Cambridge Street, about a two-minute walk from Memorial Hall and Annenberg. In 1977, Rindge Technical School and Cambridge Latin High School merged to form CRLS—the only public high school in Cambridge—which now serves 1,616 students, grades 9-12.
The original school was founded in 1648 after the general court of Cambridge, heavily influenced by the first graduating Harvard class of 1642, decreed that parents would be required to properly educate their children. It has since maintained a strong connection with the college, serving as the high school for poet E.E. Cummings ’15 A.M. ’16, mathematician Damodar Kosambi ’29 and Matt Damon, formerly ’92.
“We only have one high school in Cambridge,” said Senior Admissions Officer David L. Evans, the Harvard admissions officer responsible for the Cambridge area. “This is a city with many resourceful parents, parents who are teaching at Harvard, MIT, BU, UMass, the list goes on. Sociologists have shown over the years that there is a very strong correlation between the educational and economic resources of a parent and the performance of students academically. So we appreciate the high performing students that apply [from CRLS].”
Evans estimated that any given year between 40 and 50 CRLS students apply to Harvard, with the acceptance rate for Rindge students last year being 21 percent—compared to a 6.1 percent overall acceptance rate.
What distinguishes CRLS from other high schools with similarly high acceptance rates is that it is public and not a magnet school. Indeed, CRLS is often touted as one of the most diverse high schools in the country, serving students of over 83 nationalities and a wide range of socio-economic levels.
“I loved being a student there,” Josiah Bonsey ’14 said. “It was a great place to go to high school. I attribute the high number to an excellent education that we received at Rindge. [It was] just a really stellar education that left me mentally and physically prepared for college.”
The diversity of the school makes for a unique social and academic experience. Despite sending so many students on to schools like Harvard, the school’s Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) scores for 10th graders lag behind the state average in English Language Arts, Math, and Science, with an even more pronounced difference between those Rindge students considered “Low-Income” and those considered “Non-Low Income.”
“The culture here for students is very jam-packed,” CRLS Athletic Director MaryAnn Cappello said. “Whether some of the students have to have a part-time job to help out at home or are involved in any number of clubs or activities, they spread themselves very thin.”
CRLS fields 30 teams and has had varying levels of athletic success. The Falcons’ basketball team in the 1980’s sported Basketball Hall of Famer and NCAA National Champion at Georgetown Patrick Ewing, as well as NCAA Champion at Michigan and NBA journeyman, Rumeal Robinson.
“Not since Patrick Ewing have we had a guy playing at such a high level in such a high profile sport coming out of Rindge,” said Bonsey who captained his high school swimming team. “It’s kind of big news when someone goes D-1 from Rindge.”
Alma Lafler ’13-14, walked onto the Harvard sailing team and crewed her freshman and sophomore seasons. She is currently taking a leave of absence and is working at an internship with the Cambridge Public School System. She is the only recent CRLS graduate on a Crimson roster.