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Roxbury Latin strives to prepare its students not only for college, but also for life

Sponsored by the Roxbury Latin School

Roxbury Latin strives to prepare its students not only for college, but also for life
Derek DaSilva, a senior at the Roxbury Latin School.

Standing in front of an audience of over 300 spectators, Dorchester resident Derek DaSilva declaims a passage of Latin—Cicero’s Oration against Catiline—with flawless pronunciation and dramatic conviction.

Derek’s performance (and subsequent victory) in this public speaking competition known as Exelauno Day is just one of many opportunities Derek has sought out, enjoyed, and achieved success in during his time at The Roxbury Latin School.

Roxbury Latin, located in West Roxbury and an easy ten-minute commute from Forest Hills, is a school of roughly 300 boys in grades 7 – 12 that strives to prepare its students not only for college, but also—more importantly—for life.

The school prides itself on a rigorous academic program that challenges boys to think deeply about the material they are studying, while providing opportunities to explore programs in sports, music, drama, community service, public speaking, debate, Model United Nations, and student publications. At the same time, boys are individually known and loved through the school’s formal advisor system and the numerous informal interactions between teachers and students that are the trademark of a small school.

Derek is a senior at Roxbury Latin, and during his time at the school he has taken full advantage of the academic and extracurricular opportunities that have been offered to him. Since his arrival in seventh grade, Derek has taken a demanding course load and has consistently earned high honors grades (As and Bs). In the past two years, he has enjoyed AP courses in Statistics and Calculus as well as Honors courses in Chemistry and Biology—and met the challenges that have come with them.

But his true passion is the study of languages. An excellent Latin and French student, Derek completed four years of Latin and is now enrolled in his fifth year of French.

“I have been lucky to have exceptional teachers who have instilled in me a real appreciation for the language, history, and culture of the Ancient Romans and the French,” notes Derek.

Having traveled to France on the school’s immersion trip during the summer of 2013 and successfully completed the AP French course last year as a junior, Derek intends to use his knowledge and command of the French language in his future studies and work.

Derek admits that his academic achievements did not come easily.

“I was used to being at the top of my class at my old school, but at RL all the students are smart and determined,” he says.

Once he became acclimated to the rigor of his new school, however, Derek realized that with hard work and a positive attitude he could perform at the same level as he had at his former school. He readily admits that the transition was made significantly easier thanks to the people at Roxbury Latin.

“I noticed that the teachers are different,” he explains. “They care about their students and want them to excel, and are willing to take time out of their day to help students that are struggling.”

Derek acknowledges that his fellow students have also been key to his successful transition, noting, “We work hard and push ourselves, but we also have fun and laugh. We actually like going to school each day. That’s something you won’t hear from every schoolboy.”

Beyond the classroom, Derek has also been a star contributor in extracurricular activities at Roxbury Latin. He plays midfield and forward for the varsity soccer team, while his skill as a sprinter and jumper was significant to the success of the varsity track and field team (which won the New England Class C championship for the fourth year in a row this past spring).

Beyond athletics, Derek has also made his mark on Roxbury Latin’s choral and Model United Nation programs. As vice president of the Glee Club, he is recognized for his singing ability as well as his leadership qualities. Participating in Model UN, Derek joined other high school kids in Washington, D.C., twice in the past two years to study world affairs and how the United Nations addresses international issues. Building on his Exelauno Day experience, he views his participation in Model UN as an important step to becoming an effective public speaker.

Derek’s public speaking and leadership skills resulted in his being selected with seven other RL seniors to lead a monthly character education seminar for seventh grade boys at the school.

“I am excited to give back to the new boys by offering my experiences and thoughts on subjects like honesty, respect, and sportsmanship,” he notes.

This isn’t the first time that Derek has given back to younger generations. As a Steppingstone scholar (Steppingstone is a 14-month program designed to prepare City of Boston students for exam and independent schools), Derek understands how important it is to have inspiring, motivational mentors. When Derek had the opportunity to give back as a teaching assistant during the summer program at Steppingstone, he jumped at the chance.

“The experience brought me full circle and reminded me how impactful my early days at Steppingstone were,” says Derek.

Derek has big plans for his future and looks forward to sorting out where he will attend college next year. Derek was selected to participate in the LEAD business program this past summer, held at Duke University. The experience gave him a taste of what life will be like in college and galvanized his aspirations to seek out a top-notch school.

Derek’s dreams for the future and devotion to a wide range of school and community activities are actually common among boys at Roxbury Latin. The school’s emphasis on service helps boys realize that there is more to life than one’s own pursuits. John Eliot, after whom the Eliot Church in Roxbury is named and who preached for many years at the First Church in the square that bears his name, founded The Roxbury Latin School in 1645 “to fit [students] for public service both in church and commonwealth in succeeding ages.”

He hoped to instill in students a desire to live serious lives of noble purpose characterized by a concern and respect for others. The Founder’s statement may have been written 369 years ago, but it still expresses Roxbury Latin’s mission today. Derek DaSilva is a prime example of the many motivated and selfless boys, a diverse group, drawn from all over Boston, who proudly make up the Roxbury Latin community.

If you would like to learn more about Roxbury Latin, please visit their website (, email the Admission Office at, or call the office at 617.477.6317.

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