Community History – Covington – Covington Latin School

Community History - Covington - Covington Latin School

Covington Latin School was established in September 1923 by the Most Reverend Bishop Francis Howard. From its inception, the school stressed academic excellence based on the classics. The curriculum of Covington Latin was based on the model of the German Gymnasiums. Male students were accepted after completing the sixth grade and passing an entrance exam. Students entered Covington Latin as freshmen, thus, skipping both the seventh and eighth grades.

Covington Latin was first housed in a small residence located near the Cathedral School on Madison Avenue near 12th Street. The first enrollment reached a total of 15. The early faculty were comprised almost entirely of the clergy of the diocese. Father John Kroger was assigned by the bishop to be the first principal, or headmaster, as the position is called at the school. Father Kroger remained in this position until his death in 1930. Father Leo J. Streck succeeded Father Kroger that year.

In 1925, the site of Covington Latin School was moved to Mother of God School on West 6th Street. Latin school remained in these quarters until November 1926, when the program moved to the old Knights of Columbus Hall on East 11th Street near Madison Avenue. This building had been originally constructed in 1877 as the 11th Street Methodist Episcopal Church. The old building underwent a complete renovation to serve as a school. The ‘new’ Covington Latin School was officially dedicated on March 30, 1927.

During the late 1930s, the faculty of the Latin School began offering college courses for its graduates. This endeavor, called St. Thomas More College, was affiliated with Covington’s all-female Catholic Villa Madonna College on East 12th Street. St. Thomas More College continued until 1945, when Villa Madonna College was made a co-educational facility.

Bishop Howard worked diligently to raise the necessary funds to construct a permanent Latin School building on the 11th Street property. The funds needed for construction were eventually raised by assessing each parish of the Diocese of Covington. In November 1940, the old Latin School building was demolished and work began on the new structure. This new school was officially dedicated by Bishop Howard on December 7, 1941. The three story brick building included a library, headmaster’s office, several diocesan offices, study hall, chapel, recreation rooms, dining room, kitchen and numerous classrooms. The building was designed in a restrained Gothic Revival style to match the adjacent Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption. Over the main door was carved the institution’s motto in Latin, “Teach me goodness and knowledge and discipline.” Enrollment that year reached 170.
A 1969 study of Latin School graduates indicated a high level of achievement. Of the 747 graduates who responded to the survey, all but 34 had attended college. More than 95% of the graduates were gainfully employed in a professional career. The school’s alumni included 73 physicians, 55 priests, 38 engineers 29 chemists 28 teachers and 23 attorneys.

During the episcopacy of Bishop Howard, interscholastic athletic teams were banned in the Catholic high schools of the diocese. However, by the 1970s, Latin School offered basketball, baseball and golf for its students. In 1973, the school celebrated 50 years of service to the Northern Kentucky community. Tuition at that time was $460 per year.

During the 1980s, Covington Latin School and Villa Madonna Academy in Villa Hills, Kentucky began discussing a possible merger. Disagreements of a combined curriculum eventually brought these discussions to a halt. During this same decade, the Latin School hired Robert Larcher as the school’s first lay headmaster.
In the 1992-93 academic year, Covington Latin School began admitting girls for the first time. The acceptance of female students resulted in increased enrollment. By this time, the school was also offering a prep-year for students who did not wish to move directly from the 6th to the 9th grade.

Ryan, Paul, History of the Diocese of Covington (Covington, Kentucky: 1954), pp. 299-304; Messenger, March 30, 1969, p. 2A; Kentucky Post, December 4, 1941, p. 1, December 9, 1941, p. 1 and September 21, 1998, p. 4K

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