An ambitious new Southwest Philadelphia charter school uses an ancient language as a formula for learning.
For Hardy, discipline isn't just demerits and detentions.
Sometimes, he says, all he needs to dole out is a case of acute, paralyzing embarrassment.
Within the confines of the school's office--a space 10 feet wide, maybe 25 feet long, cluttered with desks, two refrigerators, a couple of tables, laptops and reams of papers and books--he towers over two students yanked from class for passing condoms to each other.
"That'll knock all your plans off track," he says to the kids, tossing the condoms onto a nearby computer cart.
One of the boys apologizes but adds that when the "time is right I want to be ready."
Hardy sends them back to class and starts chuckling. "You never know when that time might pop up, that you might need a condom," he says facetiously. "You know, riding on a subway."
Hardy says sex isn't such a big problem for Boys' Latin students, because of their age. At 14, he says, most boys are still awkward and don't even know how to talk to girls. If his students are having sex, it's most likely because older girls are using them as pets, or his boys are finding younger girls.
Teacher Paula Sahm doesn't walk her classroom--she stalks it.
Sahm teaches English. Her students are kids with everything from behavioral problems to general illiteracy. She teaches only 22 students, and at the moment she's helping them try to understand the causes behind the devastation in many of their neighborhoods.
She asks the students what their communities are missing.
"Money," says one.
"Unity," says another.
"Caring," says a third.
The question is how to get drugs out of the neighborhood when the police confiscate hundreds of pounds of coke in a single bust but then admit it won't have much impact in stopping drug violence. The class erupts in debate.
Finally, a student who's been quiet throughout speaks up. "You can't do nothing about it," he nearly explodes. "You can't stop it."
It's early March, and all of Boys' Latin's students are prepping for the national Latin exam they'll take later in the week.
A student who previously made it a point to tell a reporter how much less fighting he's been involved in since coming to Boys' Latin has just been expelled for stealing a cell phone.
"He's going back to public school," Hardy says. "In five minutes he'll know the difference."
PW's Summer Guide 2014