Verbum Sap Sat motto


This piece is about a saying at a middle/high school in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area that shows their ideals of independence and responsibility.

Main Piece:

“Verbum Sap Sat is latin and it means “A word to the wise is sufficient.” and that kind of goes along with HB Woodlawn’s idea that we should be independent, like if a teacher tells you, “hey this is important you should take notes on it – then a word to the wise is sufficient. They don’t need to keep telling you. You should just know.

M: What other examples of this phrase can you think of?

L: A lot of teachers when they’re doing important notes, they say “hey guys you have to focus, remember ok? Because Verbum Sap Sat!” At my school, you don’t need to wear shoes and you call your teachers by their first name. It just kind of goes along with the idea of Verbum Sap Sat. It’s like a motto, like a thing to that. Like for example our theater program is very big and they’re always building sets on the stage, but sometimes we still have class. So if you’re not wearing shoes and a teacher is like “hey there might be some nails on the ground. You might want to put something on your feet so you don’t get tetanus – then Verbum Sap Sat!”


The informant is a 13 year old girl who is an 8th grader at HB Woodlawn. She learned this phrase before even attending the school as a student and learned it when she toured as a prospective 6th grader. She plans to graduate from the school, attending from 6th to 12th grade. She does not view this phrase as a social one, more of an academic one.


I think it is interesting that they learn the phrase in Latin, though the main message is mostly understood in English. It is like an unspoken motto through the entire school that both students and teachers know of. I think the phrase emphasizes the ideals of the school to be those of independence and responsibility, but from the outside looking in it does seem like there are less rules and more freedom. They want the rules/deadlines that are set up at a traditional school to be found within the students themselves, rather than stating them outright.