Bombing suspect attended high school that bred actors and poets

John Lauerman

BOSTON -- The bombing suspect police have been chasing through the Boston area attended a prestigious public high school in Cambridge that educated actor-director Ben Affleck and basketball player Patrick Ewing.

Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, who police are seeking for Monday's Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and injured dozens, went to Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, which is known for its eclectic, diverse student body. His brother Tamerlan was killed early Friday morning as the two tried to evade police.

Dzhokar Tsarnaev wrestled and received a scholarship from the city of Cambridge while attending Rindge and Latin, a school with links to Harvard University and roots that go almost as deep.

"The first public schools in the town were connected to Harvard College and were seen as places to prepare male students for higher education," according to the school website. "Over a period of three centuries educational philosophies, funding and community commitment to public education have changed and evolved. Cambridge Rindge and Latin School is a reflection of the progress of the past three centuries."

Schools are closed for vacation in Cambridge this week, and school officials didn't answer the phone.

Rindge and Latin's course catalog includes offerings in modern dance, studio/portfolio art and cultural anthropology along with college preparatory options in chemistry, math, physics and other subjects. The school has more than 1,500 students and 171 staff.

A list posted on the school website says that Rindge and Latin sent its 2012 graduates to dozens of colleges across the United States, including Harvard, Dartmouth College, Cornell University and Stanford University.

Students don't have to pass a test to enroll in the school. All Cambridge Public School eighth graders are automatically registered, according to the city website.

Agustin Nedina, 18, who also attended the high school, said he wasn't close to Tsarnaev. Nedina said the bombing suspect played video games and had a number of good friends. At the same time, Tsarnaev also worked as a lifeguard at a Harvard swimming pool, the university said in an email.

Tsarnaev received a $2,500 scholarship from Cambridge in 2011 when he was a senior at Rindge and Latin to pursue higher education, according to the website.

"It's a highly diverse, high-quality public high school," said Jon Reider, head of college counseling at San Francisco's University High School, who worked as an admissions officer for Stanford about 15 years ago. "I always respected it and took kids from there for Stanford with regularity."

Tsarnaev is now registered as a student at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, said Rob Lamontagne, a spokesman. He referred all further questions to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Edward Estlin Cummings, the poet known more widely as E.E. Cummings, studied Latin and Greek at the school when it was called Cambridge Latin High School, according to the website. Cummings studied at Harvard and later published several works of poetry and prose work, including "The Enormous Room," an account of his internment in a French prison camp for suspected espionage.

Affleck directed "Argo," the story of the rescue of U.S. diplomats during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, which won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Picture. He and Matt Damon, also a Rindge and Latin alumnus, co-wrote and acted in "Good Will Hunting" in 1997, which catapulted their careers. Damon has starred in a number of films, including the "Bourne" action series.

Ewing, who played in the National Basketball Association from 1985 to 2002, spent most of his career with the New York Knicks.

By John Lauerman
Bloomberg News