It is my honor to welcome you to St. Michael Academy, northern Michigan’s only Classical Catholic high school, where we work to cultivate a new generation of smart saints formed in the classical tradition and the truth of the Catholic Church.  Thank you for your interest in our exceptional school.  Please let us know what we can do to make “SMA” the academic and spiritual home for your family!

As both a “college prep” and, more importantly, a “heaven prep” school, we foster development of the whole child – mind, body, and soul – ever mindful that education and career are simply means to the ultimate end: spreading the Gospel and achieving salvation!

Our Catholic faith is central to our educational vision, permeating all that we do throughout the school day and beyond.  Whether at church, in the classroom, on retreats or mission trips, on the athletic fields, at pro-life prayer vigils, or during any other activity, our faith principles – from sacred scripture and sacred tradition – form the core of all we profess.  Our Catholic faith is the central reality from which all academic disciplines flow and derive their meaning, an insight that makes our approach unique and powerful at a time when many educators question the existence of transcendent truth.

The coherence that marks our educational vision flows simply from our insistence on the unity of faith and reason – FIDES ET RATIO – which is so instrumental in teaching students how to think and how to learn.  Rather than rush to the latest educational fad or innovation (such as Common Core), we believe that the lost skills of learning can be rediscovered in the “tried and true” tradition of reading the Great Books of Western Culture, pursuing rigorous mathematical and scientific study, and embracing the fine arts – while seeing within all of it, the grand design and intention of our Creator.

We seek to elevate a new generation of joyful students, filled with awe and wonder for God’s creation, encouraged to look beyond the temporal and mundane and towards the eternal and transcendent.  We challenge our students to contemplate the “permanent things,” as found in the master works of Western Civilization.  We take them on an intellectual trip through Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem with, as our ultimate destination, a greater understanding of the Author of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: God.

With such clear purpose, SMA is the perfect place for families seeking a formative climate for their teenager that is both intimate and nurturing while also rigorous and challenging.  During these turbulent (though not unprecedented) times, the value of the constancy and permanence of an authentically Catholic education, delivered in a rigorously Classical format, cannot be understated.  With our outstanding faculty, innovative curriculum, small class sizes, and the nimbleness to rapidly adjust to a host of uncertainties, we provide the education and faith formation that is so desperately needed today.

I invite you to contact us and stop by our Petoskey campus to see for yourself what Classical Catholic education is all about!  We look forward to meeting you, and to acquainting you with the fastest growing educational movement in the nation, one that promises to bring correction and healing from that which ails our sick and tired world!

St. Michael, pray for us!
Dr. Richard Brake, Headmaster

December 2020

Forming Souls During a Pandemic: A Statement of Purpose from St. Michael Academy


There are times in a Nation’s history that require clear thinking and confident resolve, a time to be reminded of first principles and how to apply them to the crisis at hand.  We live in such consequential times.

Educational institutions like ours, St. Michael Academy, are therefore obligated to provide their communities with definitive statements clarifying their intentions for the coming school year.


Obviously, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, prudence dictates that we must take concrete steps to safeguard the health and welfare of our precious students, parents, faculty, and staff.  We did so before the closure and will continue to do so upon re-opening. This will no doubt require enhanced facility cleaning, more emphasis on personal sanitization, logical re-arrangement of classroom space, and other “common sense” mitigation measures.

We have learned a lot about the severity of the virus and its impact on various constituencies, as well as how to minimize its spread and its effects. We will surely continue to learn more which will inform our re-opening school this fall.  We are carefully taking note of how other communities, both at-home and abroad, are re-opening their schools, and are pleased to see many instances where the strictures of learning and health are successfully reconciled with minimal disruption.  We are confident that even within this extremely fluid environment, we have the proven capacity to adjust our delivery of classical education to serve the needs of the entire child: mind, body, and soul.

This comprehensive approach to learning and formation is the hallmark of a Classical Catholic curriculum and we are proud that, despite the closure, our Online Learning Initiative allowed us to continue educating our kids when most schools could not.  Our students and teachers were given a hands-on lesson in perseverance, and we are all the better for it!  Our independence, low student-teacher ratio, and straightforward teaching style gave us the flexibility to seamlessly adopt an online educational model in a matter of days, and we can do so again – TEMPORARILY – if necessary.

Another major lesson we learned from the COVID-19 closure is that online learning for high schoolers is a secondary option at best, and only effective on a temporary basis.  We have many examples where students at all levels struggled to keep-up with their studies, while teachers became overwhelmed by the taxing routine of preparing, recording, producing, and disseminating lectures, lessons, and labs.


St. Michael Academy is proud to teach the classical virtues of Prudence, Courage, Temperance, and Justice, as well as the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.  Now more than ever, we need to form future leaders who are instilled with these virtues, allowing them to demonstrate resilience, not panic, in the face of the unknown.  We must inspire and model for our students the prudence, courage, and love that seem to be in such short supply these days.  And we cannot do so long-term from a Zoom seminar or You Tube lecture.

We pray that calm, cool, and collected decision-making will govern the deliberations of local, state, and federal lawmakers allowing St. Michael Academy (and other similar schools) to perform its mission both effectively and safely.  For the rest, we place our trust in God, who made Heaven and Earth.  With HIM all things are possible.

Our troubled world longs for the peace and unity that is promised in the Gospel. And with that in mind, we at St. Michael Academy welcome all who are looking for an alternative for their sons and daughters during these confusing times.  What we offer is the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness of our civilization through the lens of Christian Love.  What a wonderful combination, and so will you consider joining us next year?  You’ll be ever so glad you did.  God bless you and God bless our County.

St. Michael, pray for us!
Dr. Richard Brake, Headmaster

June 2020