Integrated, Classical, Catholic
St. Michael Academy offers a unique, yet time-honored, approach to education through its Integrated Classical Catholic Curriculum. Our students enjoy a cohesive, content-rich education that exposes them to a variety of disciplines and fields of inquiry.
Below is a description of the major components of our curriculum, along with an overview of the specific disciplines and courses our students are asked to investigate and master.
History, Literature, Theology, Philosophy, and Languages are learned in a broader context, woven together in our Integrated Classical Curriculum.
MATH & SCIENCE
Math & Science are also intimately connected; the logic of Math is seen in Philosophy and God’s handiwork is seen in the sciences.
Equal emphasis is given to the arts, so that every student learns to draw and paint, sing in the choir, act on stage, give speeches, and engage in debate.
The Humanities Program
History, literature, philosophy, theology, the social sciences, and languages are braided together to form a comprehensive, integrated conception of reality. This curricular alignment helps students understand the motivations of important historical, philosophical, theological, and literary figures, while also understanding the impact these individuals had on society as a whole.
Grade 09: Ancient World
Grade 10: Early Medieval Period
Grade 11: High Middle Ages to The Renaissance
Grade 12: Modern World
The history classes at SMA form the backbone of our curriculum. The four-year history sequence covers ancient history through the Greek and Roman civilizations, early Church history, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. In senior year, students study the modern era, including the American and French Revolutions, the Industrial Revolution, the Communist Revolution, and the Sexual Revolution. Each history course is tailored to provide a colorful backdrop for literature, art, and science classes.
Our study of literature is tied to the study of history and the rest of the humanities. Students are first introduced to classical epics of Homer and then exposed to early English classics such as The Canterbury Tales and modern literary renderings of medieval history. Moving towards the modern period, they read Dante and Shakespeare. As seniors, they read American literature, Austen, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, and Chesterton. Reading and writing go hand in hand, and each student masters the art of the essay in their written assignments in all subjects.
Philosophy, “the love of wisdom,” exercises the brain while it elevates the soul. The ability to understand abstract concepts leads to clear and systematic thinking in all things. We use philosophy to connect the humanities, but also to show its obvious connection to logic and mathematics. We study the development of philosophy from its classical roots focusing on Plato and Aristotle, through its dramatic encounter with the early Church, its christening by St. Thomas Aquinas, and its deterioration in the modern era.
Theology, “the study of God,” is the context by which all other texts are studied. The principal theological texts studied are the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We also read selections from the Church Fathers, Documents of the Church Councils, and Papal Encyclicals.
ECONOMICS AND THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER
The study of economics provides perhaps the best example of the problems caused by the fragmentation in modern thought. When a society’s economic principles are divorced from Christian principles, it is certain to have a detrimental effect on the culture. During junior and senior years, key texts are read in conjunction with the study of modern history, philosophy, and in the light of Church teaching. In addition, the same students are made intimately acquainted with America’s constitutional structure, and how the legislative process influences, and is influenced by, not only the economy, but by other aspects of political culture.
The study of a foreign language is required of all students for two years. All students are required to take two years of Latin. After satisfying the Latin requirement, students may take electives in the modern languages of Spanish or French, or continue to Latin III. There are also plans to begin offering introductory Greek if there is sufficient student demand. Because students may have already studied a foreign language before they arrive at the school we try, as much as possible, to place them in the correct level right from the start regardless of their grade.
The Math & Science Program
Mathematics is the art of measuring. Science is the study of what can be measured. While math is woven together with the sciences, it is also connected to the humanities. It teaches logic, which is a basic philosophical principle. It teaches balance, which is a basic aesthetic principle. Math at SMA covers Euclidean geometry and algebra, all the way through advanced Calculus.
- Algebra I
- Algebra II
Science is the study of the physical world, that is, of God’s creation. None of these subjects can be approached without a sense of wonder. It is fitting, therefore, to begin by looking up at the heavens, at the lights in the sky: Astronomy. Then we take a look at the world God created (Geology), the creatures he created (Biology), and the intricate substances of which all things are made (Chemistry). We end by gaining an understanding of the nature and properties of matter and energy (Physics).
Grade 09: Astronomy & Earth Sciences
Grade 10: Biology
Grade 11: Chemistry
Grade 12: Physics
The Fine Arts Program
Music appeals to the ear and the mind, the emotions and the intellect, the senses and the spirit. Students are exposed to a wide variety of music that they perform chorally in class and at special performances. A music education at SMA includes music theory, performance, ear training, note reading, and musical analysis. Music history is taught according to the grade level with an emphasis on music development within the Church, and corresponds to the historical period in which the students are immersed.
A complete education must include Art, as it involves the development of our creative nature and provides students with the tools and the technique with which to express their ideas, their feelings, and their love. It must also include the analytical skills with which to judge a work of art and therefore must provide the continuous exposure to great art. Most importantly, the mechanical skills and the aesthetic aptitude must be put into the proper context of eternal Truth. A good artist is a complete thinker and vice versa. The influence of the arts in today’s society cannot be overstated, and is why art is required at SMA.
The Dramatic Arts are particularly powerful in our present culture where movies and the media are often the primary source of knowledge and ideas for many young people. It is therefore imperative that students learn as much as possible about this potent art form. Drama involves the study of how words are brought to life and in order to successfully do this on stage the actor must understand more than just his character. He must learn to see the work as a whole, to understand the author’s vision, and sometimes even the time in which it was written. In other words, the actor must learn to be a good literary critic, philosopher, and sometimes even a good historian. Drama ties together the information students learn in the classroom and asks them to actively participate in its performance.