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I am working on a research poster, and the teacher supervising wrote the following language. It doesn't seem to me like "School" is a proper noun, but he tells me it is when referring to a specific school. Is the following sentence correct? Is it the best way to say this?

Such questions would allow us to learn how the School culture affected cheating.

"School" refers to our school, but I still don't think it looks right capitalized (especially when used as an adjective).

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

It would be capitalized if it was preceded by the name of the school. For example:

Students at the Brooklyn School of the Arts often collaborate on assignment with their mobile devices. The students were asked about cheating habits, and their mobile devices. Such questions would allow us to learn how the School culture affected cheating.

However, it would not be capitalized if you were using it like this:

Schoolkids in the 21st century are using cellphones more than ever in schools. The New York Times asked 1000 students about their cheating habits and cellphone usage. Such questions would allow us to learn how the school culture affected cheating.

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The first example illustrates a case where one might have a sufficient excuse for capitalizing the word, but that nevertheless it would be legitimate not to capitalize it; in fact, many would say that it would be better not to capitalize here. – Animadversor Apr 19 '13 at 22:00
I would capitalise it only in Brooklyn School of the Arts and in none of the others. – Hugo Apr 19 '13 at 22:03
If the school had a name that included School (like Boston Latin School), then capitalized School would work fine as a reference to it, in context. Otherwise, it's not clear why a capitalized School would be preferred for a school named (say) Pierpont Day Academy. – John Lawler Apr 20 '13 at 0:07
@JohnLawler It appears that OP in fact attends an institution called University School – StoneyB Apr 20 '13 at 2:07

People enjoy capitalizing words that look important. You are on the mark. Unless the word belongs to the name of a particular school, begin it with with a lower-case "ess."

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