Frequently Asked Questions about Academics at The Atonement Academy
Catholic education has always sought to lead students to Christ, and classical curricula is being developed at The Atonement Academy as an outstanding way to achieve this goal. As stated by The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, “Catholic classical education leads students to Christ by immersing them in the riches of the civilization His gospel inspired, and by guiding them in the development of the theological, intellectual, and moral virtues. The classical liberal arts of grammar, logic, and rhetoric give students the interior tools to benefit from the best that has been said and written, to avoid being manipulated by the subtle use of words and images, and to lead others to love and live the truth. The classical approach integrates the curriculum and the life of the school, cultivating all that is truly human in each student and fostering a community of faith-filled learners.
“Classical educators also believe that we should learn the importance of formation in virtue from our predecessors. Traditionally, education was much less concerned with training and much more concerned with developing the moral, intellectual, and theological virtues. These virtues aim to perfect all the powers of the human person, from observation and memory to reasoning and expression. Awakening wonder — a sense of awe before all that is true, good, and beautiful — begins to affect the soul of the learner. Wonder leads to questions that uncover the meaning of things both visible and invisible.”
Catholic classical education at The Atonement Academy embraces the Catholic Church’s 2,000 year-old history and culture as well as the roots of Christian civilization well before that. Catholic faith practices not only include classroom, playground, and extracurricular prayer opportunities, and daily religion classes but also school-wide daily Holy Mass for students and their teachers. At the forefront of the Academy’s Catholic classical education are opportunities for students to be nourished, informed, and motivated by their faith.
The Catholic faith’s traditions and rituals also inform the Academy’s calendar. For example, liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent provide opportunities for almsgiving, prayer, and fasting, and an Easter break replaces the typical Spring Break that is often scheduled by other schools during Lent.
The Atonement Academy’s “rigorous” curriculum creates a challenging and enjoyable learning environment for students. Young people love to learn in an atmosphere that is at once orderly and stimulating, and a visit to the Academy is the litmus test that a demanding curriculum can create marvelous interaction between faculty and students.
The “rigorous” curriculum also underscores the practice that grading standards will be upheld and students’ marks will be earned. This emphasis can be frustrating to families who are accustomed to making A’s and B’s in other schools with little effort. It is important to note that from the time Atonement had its first high school graduating class in 2008, colleges and universities understood that somewhat lower GPAs were outweighed by higher standardized test scores and well-formed students who are trained to think on their own and express themselves well.
That’s exactly it: a current educational emphasis in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is not a time-honored emphasis at all. Classical education realizes that all the areas of the curriculum — religion, literature, history, math, science, music, language, art — contribute to awakening wonder, encountering wisdom, and developing virtue. Curricular decisions must be made according to this common goal, and not simply according to the dictates of individual disciplines. Methods of instruction are designed for active, not passive, learning. Technology is used as a tool, but it is not a source of wisdom.
Our world is accelerating as technological, cultural, and geo-political forces reshape our daily lives. The subject matter and skills required in the market are evolving and changing rapidly. However, thinking, articulate people are always in demand. Those who are able to acquire new skills rapidly and independently are sought after regardless of the field. Classical education has a proven track record of turning out these types of students.
As stated by the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, “Classical education is not anti-modern, but it does recognize that modern education and the modern world suffer from a fragmentation and incoherence that often make the real goods of modern life a source of indifference and even despair for youth. The wisdom found in the past can help today’s student comprehend the present and make prudent decisions for the future.”
That said, interests in STEM discipline areas are further developed beyond the classroom with avid STEM/Robotics Clubs at the lower, middle, and upper school levels.