Features of ACA's Upper School

We've recently been taking a look at some key elements of a classical Christian education. Today, I'd like to begin a brief look at ACA's upper school. Over the next few weeks, we'll consider 1) our upper school curriculum, 2) the rhetoric stage of the trivium and college preparedness, 3) key emotional / developmental characteristics of upper school students, 4) homework loads, 4-day weeks, and sanity, and 5) sports and extracurricular opportunities. 

Upper School at ACA is grades 7-12, and it straddles the logic and rhetoric stages of the trivium. In 7th-8th grades, late logic-stage students learn and refine the tools of argumentation, of study strategies, and of overviews. In 9th-12th grades, students begin thinking independently, critically, and persuasively. Consequently, ACA's upper school curriculum is designed around these final developmental stages of a classical Christian education.

You can view ACA's upper school curriculum scope here. You'll notice a theme in each grade, which unifies each subject's aim, focus, or relationship. The theme for 7th Grade is The World in Overview, where students unite much of previous grammar school (K-6) knowledge toward world themes and surveys, particularly in humanities classes. In 8th Grade, the theme is The Ancient World, where students launch a deep-dive on primary texts and mature synthesis of ideas via the Omnibus humanities curriculum, which continues through their high school years. In 9th Grade, the theme is The Medieval World; in 10th, The Modern World; in 11th, Ancient & Medieval Influences on Western Civilization; in 12th, Modern Influences, & How Should We Then Live?

Are these themes relevant to ACA's STEM courses? Yes, but of course not directly. Though Christ is the Author of all knowledge, it would be problematic to unnecessarily "humanitize" or "theologize" math and science day-to-day, so ACA's commitment remains to providing competitive STEM courses that foster excellence and college preparedness for the sake of Christ's kingdom. Students who love Jesus but are lazy about their math and science homework aren't glorifying God, even if they know that God is the Author of STEM. ACA's upper school STEM curriculum is therefore designed to primarily encourage accuracy, speed, and excellence as God-glorifying works -- though, when relevant, it also applies upper school's grade-level themes: for instance, the great math and science discoveries that occurred in the ancient world (Archimedes, Ptolemy, Democritus), the medieval/Renaissance world (Kepler, Galileo, Newton), and the modern world (Planck, Einstein, Curie, Bohr).

Overall, ACA's upper school curriculum is a culmination of the great classical work begun in early childhood, established in the primary grades, solidified in the grammar stage, and sharpened in the logic stage. It is rigorous, but it is also intended to give life, preparing students for independence so that they can go into the world as men and women of action for God's glory.