Covington Latin School was founded in 1923 by Bishop Francis Howard. Bishop Howard was a national leader in establishing Catholic education, particularly elementary and secondary education, as a major priority of the American Church. He was one of the key developmental figures in what is now the National Catholic Education Association. On being named Bishop of Covington in 1923, he made establishing a strong system of Catholic grade schools and high schools a priority for his diocese. Covington Latin, as well as its sister school, Lexington Latin School, were first fruits of that effort. The schools were designed to take bright and able young men and to train them to be leaders in both their religious and secular communities. Working from the German gymnasium model, in which students were directed after sixth grade into college preparatory instruction, the schools prospered. While Lexington Latin would eventually merge with a local all girls Catholic school to form the current Lexington Catholic High School, and in so doing drop the accelerated nature of its program, Covington Latin has maintained that innovative approach to this day, taking students from fifth, sixth and seventh grades and preparing them academically, spiritually and emotionally for the direct transition into college upon completion of a four year, high school curriculum.
With the continued success of the program over the following decades, Bishop Howard determined that the School, which had operated to this point out of a series of old homes and churches, needed a permanent home of its own. The result was that in 1941, the current facility was constructed, with the dedication taking place, coincidentally, on the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. While the School initially shared the building with diocesan administrative offices, eventual growth of the School, as well as growth of diocesan services, led to movement of those offices elsewhere in the 1960’s.
The decade of the sixties also saw other innovations for the School. It was during this era, under Father Edwin Heile (then Dean and later Headmaster), that the School began to more actively participate in the realm of high school athletics. Also during this era, the School, whose faculty to this point had consisted almost entirely of priests, began to hire lay men and women as teachers. In the succeeding years, the School’s curriculum would be constantly updated and refined to provide students with the tools necessary in the ever more technologically advanced world.
By the 1990’s, Covington Latin School would be poised for its next great period of innovation and development. It was during this period that the School initiated the Preparatory Year, dubbed the “Prep” year. The Prep year allowed students to attend eighth grade at Covington Latin, while still protecting the accelerated nature of the program. Students began to enter the Prep year from fifth or sixth grades, allowing them to receive the benefits of acceleration and of the challenges of a Covington Latin education that much earlier.
The nineties also witnessed the other great innovation in Covington Latin’s recent history, the transition to coed education. In 1992, forty-one young women joined with the School’s young men for the first time in facing the opportunities and challenges of a Latin School education. Since then the young men and women of our region have benefited equally from the tremendous opportunities that the Latin School program offers.
Latin School continues to grow and change in order to provide educational opportunities that allow students to move at a pace, level and complexity appropriate to their individual needs – most recently with the addition of the Prep 7 year. The Prep 7 year, initiated in 2015, is designed specifically for the families of public school fifth graders who prefer to accelerate one year – a choice which previously required sending their child to middle school for sixth grade, effectively requiring them to attend three schools in three years. This program alleviates that concern for parents of public school fifth graders. Home-educated students and students attending private schools not affiliated with the Diocese of Covington are also eligible for Prep 7 acceptance following fifth grade.
Covington Latin has existed now for over 90 years. That long and successful history has in part been the outcome of willingness on the part of the School to change, grow and adapt, while always maintaining the essence of its nature as an accelerated, academically oriented, Catholic institution of learning. The result is a school which stands today, as it did on the day of its founding, ready and eager to accept the challenge of the Motto its founder, Bishop Howard, chose for it:
Bonitatem et disciplinam et scientiam, doce me. - Teach me goodness, discipline and knowledge.