By The Numbers
Student-teacher ratio: 10:1
Average years of teacher experience: 19
Percentage of teachers with advanced degrees in their field: 53%
Average SAT score (class of 2008)
Tuition costs (2008-2009)
Percentage of applicants accepted: 39%
Number of AP courses offered: 16
Class of 2008 Average ACT: 27
The students: Most live in Myers Park and other areas of Charlotte, though some travel from Lake Norman or Weddington.
The senior class: Seniors head to Caswell Beach on the North Carolina coast each summer to bond before school starts. The 113-person class of 2009 is close-knit, says senior class president Jay O'Brien. "We never get tired of each other," he says. "We're always together. It's an odd thing." The cafeteria features a loft exclusively for seniors, who also go out to lunch together for their once-a-week off-campus privileges. Of the 113 seniors, forty have been together since kindergarten.
The student parking lot: In addition to numerous SUVs, the nicer cars in the lot include BMWs, Lexuses, and Mercedes-Benzes.
Dress code: No uniforms, but the dress code prohibits tank tops and requires that dresses, skirts, and shorts be long enough to reach girls' fingertips. Also prohibited: long hair and facial hair on boys, sleeveless shirts—even during athletics—and camouflage.
The social side: Football games and basketball games are big social events. (Charlotte Country Day is the school's football rival.) Students can also be found doing community service on the weekends or hanging out at each other's houses.
Spring break: A group of seniors typically goes skiing or heads to Mexico to celebrate the last spring break of high school.
Facebook: Charlotte Latin students are very into Facebook, so much so that school officials have talked to them about being careful with what information they put on the site. Some students have more than 1,000 Facebook friends. Popular Charlotte Latin-related Facebook groups include Charlotte Latin School Alumni, Charlotte Latin YoungLife, CLS DANCE TEAM '08!, and Latin Basketball '08-'09.
Lunch: A chef makes all meals from scratch. One example of a daily "meal deal" (cost, $3.35) is roast turkey, mashed Yukon potatoes, green beans, roasted carrots, and pumpkin pie. There are also a pizza bar, deli station, and a la carte items.
The environment: Students aren't ranked, and the valedictorian isn't announced until graduation. Students and parents, however, tend to create a competitive feel. "I think it's a lot of people just wanting to do their best," says junior Betsy Gammon. "I think our teachers understand that and try to tone it down a bit."
The parents: You'll find plenty of parents clanking cowbells at the football games. Many parents—some of whom are Latin alumni—are involved in service projects and volunteering for events. During the three days of teacher conferences, for example, parents provide breakfast and lunch for the teachers.
Tuition: The school provides need-based financial aid, though it declined to say what percentage of students receive it. Many families don't take vacations or purchase new cars to afford tuition, which costs up to $18,000 a year. "There are many families that make choices and sacrifices to send their kids to a school like Charlotte Latin," says Rose Mary Achey, president of the Parents' Council.
Starting young: Art, music, and Spanish all begin in transitional kindergarten.
Unique programs: Students can spend their summers in one of seven countries—including South Africa, Germany, and Argentina—through Charlotte Latin's study abroad program. Latin also brings in a variety of speakers and programs, from an African dance group that taught students about cultural dance to a famous violinist who held workshops with orchestra students.
Technology: There are 600 computers on the wireless campus, including two to three Macs in every classroom, computers labs, and portable laptop labs.
Arts: Lower-school students explore various types of art, music, and theater and choose electives when they get older. Most upper-school students take art at least once.
Community service: Each grade does a service-learning project. Past projects have included building Habitat for Humanity homes.
Extracurricular activities: "There are so many opportunities that you're crazy not to take advantage of it. You find time," says O'Brien, who competes nationally on the school's debate team. Other rare offerings include the Transcendentalist Club and Car Club.
Athletics: You won't find any creaky wooden bleachers in the gymnasium. Instead, there are spacious seats. There is also a fitness center with two trainers. More than 90 percent of students in grades seven to twelve play at least one sport.
Famous grad: Dallas Cowboys defensive end Chris Canty (class of 2000).
College: All graduates go to college. More than half leave the state, though many go to UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, and NC State. "During high school you think, 'Oh my gosh, this is ridiculous. Why do they have to make it so hard?' But I hear from everyone, it truly does prepare you," O'Brien says.
Future plans: Latin is planning an addition, slated to open in 2010, that will include a field house, additional music and art classrooms, and practice rooms in the auditorium.