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Classical High School, founded in 1843, is a public magnet school in the Providence School District, in Providence, Rhode Island.[2] It was originally an all-male school but has since become co-ed. Classical's motto is Certare, Petere, Reperire, Neque Cedere, a Latin translation of the famous phrase taken from Tennyson's poem "Ulysses", "To Strive, to Seek, to Find, and Not to Yield". It has been rated "High Performing and Sustaining" by its performance in 2005 on the New Standards Reference Exam, placing third in the state.[3] The school also made Newsweek's America's Best High Schools of 2012 with a 99% graduation rate, 95% college bound, an average SAT score of 1578, and an average AP score of 2.8.[4] Classical High School stands roughly at the intersection of the Federal Hill, West End, and Upper South Providence neighborhoods.

Classical High School
TypePublic, Magnet
MottoCertare, Petere, Reperire, Neque Cedere
(To Strive, to Seek, to Find, and Not to Yield)
EstablishedMarch 20, 1843
PrincipalScott Barr
Enrollment1,132 (2016-17)[1]
Color(s)         Purple & white
MascotLady Purple/Athena
Communities servedProvidence, Rhode Island, United States
Cahir Street View


Mission statementEdit

Classical High School, a demanding college preparatory examination school, serves a diverse community and provides its students with the means to achieve high standards in a rigorous learning environment. Classical encourages its students to pursue academic, artistic, athletic, and personal growth so they will experience success in colleges and universities, and will demonstrate excellence in leadership within the community.


Entrance to Classical High School in 2015

Classical High School's current building was finished in 1970 and is one of few buildings in the area created in the Brutalist architectural style.[5] The original school buildings had become outdated by the 1950s and after several fires and years of study, the city launched a competition for a new education complex in 1963. The winning design was by noted local architects Harkness & Geddes in collaboration with Walter Gropius, who founded The Architects Collaborative (TAC), the famous Boston architectural firm.[6]

William McKenzie Woodward, a well-known architectural historian and staff member of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, does not agree aesthetically with the building, going so far as to write in his Guide to Providence Architecture, "It's no wonder Modernism has gotten such a bad reputation in Rhode Island because it smells very bad there."[5] In 1986 McKenzie had however admitted in his survey for the Preservation Commission that "The new complex, the first of its kind in Providence built to serve a stable rather than expanding population, was well received as an ample and functional facility." Quoting John Ware Lincoln, then chairman of the Division of Design at Rhode Island School of Design as having noted: "The new Classical buildings are fine architecture, by the old standards, but they are also exemplary of the new concept of the architect as an environmental planner, working with social and civic sciences, demography, transportation engineering, building technologies, and, in this case, education philosophy."[6]

The previous building, designed by Martin & Hall, was a yellow brick building with a peaked roof (under which was the study hall). It was considerably smaller and was bounded by Pond Street, which was consumed in the creation of the new campus. When the old building was razed the yellow bricks were sold to students and alumni.



  1. ^ "Classical High School". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  2. ^ Classical High School – Providence, Rhode Island/RI – Public School Profile
  3. ^[permanent dead link] Rhode Island Department of Education 2005 High School Classification
  4. ^ [1] Newsweek's America's Best High Schools of 2012
  5. ^ a b Woodward, William McKenzie (2003). PPS/AIAri Guide to Providence Architecture. Providence, RI: Providence Preservation Society. p. 207. ISBN 0-9742847-0-X.
  6. ^ a b William McKenzie Woodward and Edward F Sanderson; Providence, a Citywide Survey of Historical Resources; Rhode Island Historic Preservation Commission, 1986
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Coolidge (Class of 1956), Clark (2010). "Clark Coolidge Chronology". Buffalo University. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  10. ^ "Distinguished Alumni". Classical HS Alumni Assoc. Archived from the original on April 23, 2016. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  11. ^ Fish (Class of 1956), Stanley (June 7, 2010). "A Classical Education: Back to the Future". The New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2010.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved September 8, 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Mitchell, Martha. "Encyclopedia Brunoniana".
  14. ^ < Archived October 23, 2013, at the Wayback Machine>

External linksEdit