- Atonement Academy
The Atonement Academy is a parochial, Catholic school in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas. It is a part of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic parish (the founding parish for the
Anglican Useliturgy within the Roman rite of the Catholic Church) and was opened on August 15, 1994. The college preparatory school curriculum was inaugurated in 2004, the first seniors graduating in 2008. The Atonement Academy is designated as a “ Blue Ribbon School of Excellence” by the Department of Education. The school seal is the medieval icon of the pelicanfeeding its young emblazoned on a shield. The student population for the 2008-2009 school year totals about 500 students.
The Church and School Building
The school building of The Atonement Academy was recently expanded along with Our Lady of the Atonement church. The two buildings are connected in a way that symbolizes the connection of faith that underpins all
Catholic education. The church and school are built to resemble a medieval English church and castle. The sanctuary is of the traditional style with an East-facing altar. It is decorated with many meaningful symbols of the Catholic faith, especially the fish-net like matrix that covers the entire ceiling, which symbolizes the Christian church's role in "fishing for men".
Educational Philosophy and Catholic Nature of the School
The Atonement Academy bases its curriculum on the Latin phrase "
Fides et Ratio" (faith and reason) and is known for providing a classical and Catholic education. It is not necessary to be Catholic to attend the Academy, but all students are required to take a theology/religion classes, and all attend daily Mass. On Fridays, the settings of the Mass are chanted in Latin. "In keeping with Catholic educational philosophy, the mission statement of the school expresses the need to educate the whole child as a single, unified being, physical, intellectual and spiritual." Many of the teachers are also parishioners of the church, which allows students the benefit of knowing their teachers as whole people as well.
The curriculum is challenging, and students should expect to have plenty of homework, particularly in the College Preparatory School (Grades 9-12). The minimum requirements for high school graduation are established by the
Texas Catholic Conference Education Department. The Atonement Academy challenges students with additional requirements which seek to complete a classical education. For example, a fourth year of Math, and a fourth year of Science are above and beyond the minimum requirements for a college preparatory diploma in the Catholic high schools of Texas, and yet we require them. A college prep diploma in the Catholic schools of Texas requires three years of a foreign language, and all three years must be in the same language. At The Atonement Academy our language is Latin, the language of western civilization, the language of law and science, and the language of the Church. For students who wish to go beyond the basic three-year requirement in Latin, we offer an Advanced Placement course in Latin, and also a course in Greek Languageand History.
As a classical and Catholic institution, a knowledge of and appreciation for our shared Western heritage and civilization is stressed. Even students who may feel that a college education is not a part of their vocation can benefit from exposure to ideas in classes that at first glance may seem esoteric but in reality are fundamental to an understanding of where our cultural roots lie. "Ideas and works of profound beauty are for every child, not just those with the highest grades."
The Atonement Academy offers a wide variety of classes including Latin, Greek, and Spanish, Grammar and Literature, all of the sciences, Texas, U.S., and World History, U.S. Government, and Economics. AP courses are available to the juniors and seniors in areas such as American Literature, World Literature, American Government, American History, World History, Calculus, and Biology. Students at all levels participate in the Advanced Reading (AR) program. Classes are unisex from grades 3-8. There is a quarterly awards ceremony in which the students are recognized for their academic excellence. Many of the teachers hold advanced degrees in their specialties.
Our school day consists of ten periods. One is for daily Mass, one is for lunch, and eight are for classes. Tenth period of the day is optional; some students attend, some do not. Thus each student generally has either seven or eight class meetings daily.
In the College Preparatory School (grades 9-12), the typical basic course load is 7¼ credits. In addition to the 7¼ credit basic load, a few additional requirements must be met, either by having completed them in middle school, by taking them during the elective period, or, in the case of Physical Education, by participating in extracurricular sports.
High school courses completed by some students in middle school include Health, Physical Education, Technology Applications,Latin I, Algebra I and Integrated Physics and Chemistry. We count these credits toward graduation when they have been awarded by an accredited school and, in the case of Math and Latin, we grant advanced placement. Our class schedule provides for flexibility in Math and Latin placement throughout the high school years.
Typical course sequence at the Atonement Academy College Preparatory School
Freshman year:English I: American LiteratureTheology I: Church DoctrineWorld GeographyBiology I with labAlgebra I, or more advanced Math as individual progress allowsLatin I, or more advanced Latin as individual progress allowsMusicTechnology Applications (1/4 credit)
Sophomore year:English II: British LiteratureTheology II: Sacred ScriptureHistory II: AP World HistoryChemistry I with labAlgebra II, or more advanced Math as individual progress allowsLatin II, or more advanced Latin as individual progress allowsMusicTechnology Applications (1/4 credit)
Junior year:English III: AP English Language and CompositionTheology III: Church HistoryHistory III: AP US HistoryGeometry-Trigonometry, or more advanced Math as individualprogress allowsPhysics I with labLatin III, or more advanced classical language as individualprogress allowsMusicTechnology Applications (1/4 credit)
Senior year:English IV: AP English Literature and CompositionTheology IV: Moral TheologyAP US Government/Economics (1credit course; 1/2 credit American Government, 1/2 credit Economics) Pre-Calculus, or, if Pre-Calculus is complete, AP Calculus AB or Honors Literature SeminarAP BiologyAP Latin-Vergil, or Greek Language and HistoryMusicTechnology Applications (1/4 credit)
The music program is centered on choral instruction, where the various student choirs play an integral part in the liturgy of the Mass. There are several choral concerts throughout the year as well as a series of sacred music performances. Many of the Academy’s students also participate in extracurricular arts activities such as theater performances.
In keeeping with the classical curriculum, a class in the art of Western civilization is taken in grade 8.
Athletics, Extracurricular Activities, and Events
Sports teams include boys’s varsity basketball, girls' varsity volleyball, wrestling, track, cross-country, and golf. School colors are black and red, and the school team name is the Crusaders. As of August 2008, a program for expanding the athletics program is underway, including the construction of a playing field adjacent to the church parking lot.
Other, non-academic activities that are supported include scouting (both boys and girls), debate club, chess club, sailing club, Tae Kwan Do, National Honor Society, Junior Classical League, and Student Council. Yearly events include the Upper School Tea, the King’s Fair (a medieval fair), the Stampede dinner (a Western-themed event), and the student-produced film festival. Wednesday afternoons are reserved for club activities.
Every other year, the students of the Academy have an opportunity to go on a parish-wide pilgrimage to Rome, and attend Mass in some of the greatest churches in Christendom.
Uniform Requirements and Comportment Guidelines
Students at The Atonement Academy are required to wear an academic uniform particular to their gender and age level, as well as a standardized physical education uniform. The high school uniforms in particular are note worthy for their elegance and maturity, and in the junior and senior years include the class ring.
The class ring is a silver signet ring featuring the school’s crest and is given to juniors in a special ceremony during Mass. The class ring then becomes a part of the student's official uniform.
As a private school, the Atonement Academy is not required to administer the Texas Applied Knowledge and Skills (
TAKS) test. Academy students at all levels participate in a wide variety of standardized assessments including, the Stanford exam, the OLSAT, the HSPT, the ACRE, and quarterly Standardized Testing and Reporting(STAR) testing. Additionally, the AR program tracks reading skills throughout the year. Finally, high school students have the opportunity to take the PreSAT before the SAT.
The students have access to a number of extracurricular counselling services. For the upper grades a full range of college counselling services are offered, with information available for a wide range of Catholic, private, and state institutions.
The school has both boys and girls academic counsellors in grades 6-12.
Of course pastoral care is always available with the ordained clergy, who maintain a regular presence in the school. Confessions are available regularly by appointment.
* [http://www.atonementonline.com/ School website]
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