Augustine Christian Academy recognizes that God created man as a whole being, and each component of his being needs nurturing. Therefore, ACA seeks to challenge its students to grow spiritually, emotionally, and relationally, rather than merely academically. Here is a look into a few of the opportunities which ACA offers to that end.
School of Dialectic
In the School of Dialectic (the Junior High years), classes are conducted in a discussion mode rather than strictly lecture (hence “dialectic”). Teachers in this school constantly ask their students to discover why an event occurred rather than just what occurred. The junior-high years are typically marked with an attitude that questions the institutions, standards, and beliefs that had been so fully and easily accepted as true in earlier years. Rather than squelch these tendencies, Augustine Christian Academy satisfies the natural curiosity behind the questioning while training the young person to keep proper attitudes towards God-ordained authority. The students are trained in traditional logic through courses which help them to understand the structure of valid arguments and the importance of God’s word as a universal standard of truth. Dialectic students are taught that “ideas have consequences.” Everything they study, from the political structure of Rome to the events described in today’s newspaper, reflects the values and ideas of the time period. Sorting through these concepts and comparing them to the revealed truth of God grants students a secure vision of their place and purpose in history.
Four Royal Houses
As Augustine Christian Academy grew, there was concern that the close, family atmosphere that had marked its first few years might be lost with the influx of new students and the necessary structure that accompanied that.
To help with this and to build school spirit and a sense of belonging, ACA borrowed from a tradition long used in the boarding schools of Europe and divided the students in the schools of Dialectic and Rhetoric into Houses. Although the students do not actually “house” on campus, this allowed every student the opportunity to belong to a smaller group and to enjoy some personal one-on-one contact with their staff House sponsor in a way that is not related to class time. The mixing of students from grades six through twelve affords an opportunity for older students to mentor the younger and the younger students to learn from the older.
The four Houses are named for traditional medieval characters.
- Dragon House represents protectors: valiant defenders of truth.
- Falcon House represents eagerness to serve and enthusiasm.
- Griffin House represents the traits of faithfulness, endurance, and virtue.
- Pegasus House represents a messenger from God and the character traits of compassion and sincerity.
The Houses compete with each other in four areas: academics, character, games, and community service. Points are tallied weekly, and the House with the highest number of points at the end of each quarter is declared the House of Honor and given an off-campus lunch. Three of the Houses also have areas of the school campus they clean twice a week. The House of Honor does not clean, but assigns and supervises the cleaning done by the other Houses.
Each House has three positions of leadership filled by students in that house:
Prefect, who heads the House and calls its meetings
Sergeant-at-Arms, who assigns cleaning and deals with House discipline
Recorder, who keeps track of individual and House points
These leaders work with the leaders of the other Houses to make sure that all the programs work together to build school unity and keep the focus on growth in Christ.
Competitions include quiz bowls and House challenges (in everything from pogo stick to chess and basketball to bake-offs). The Houses compete regularly in Grailball, which is a House game invented by ACA alumna Lauren Post. The unique game is played indoors or out and requires skill and physical endurance.
As the students grow in their Houses, they build on the traditions and bring new and exciting ideas to the school, while at the same time building the kind of close relationships that help us communicate the truths of the Christian life to each other. It is as the shield above the House banners in our chapel reads, “Four Royal Houses: One Eternal King”.
Augustine Christian Academy has never shied away from the titles of “unusual” or “different.” From its beginning, the school has clung to the goal of training students to be creative and industrious to overcome obstacles and achieve what they can imagine. The students have repeatedly risen to that challenge with amazing results.
Several years ago, ACA student Lauren Post was challenged to design a game that would incorporate elements of the Medieval traditions of the school and be an active, enjoyable, and challenging game to be played among the Houses. She designed “Grailball.”
The game involves two medieval towers placed at opposite ends of the playing field. Opposing teams attempt to move the ball down the field in an attack on the other team’s tower. If they successfully throw the ball through a window of the tower or into its grail on the top, without stepping into the moat that surrounds the tower, they score points. Players may only move when they do not have the ball, and they must throw the ball from one teammate to another, giving opposing players the chance to intercept the ball and change the direction of play.
The school now offers Men’s Grailball, Ladies’ Grailball, and Junior High Grailball. While ACA created the game for fun and exercise, the tournaments have become a highly anticipated competition between the Houses.
Six Diploma Options
ACA offers six different diploma options, all of which meet and exceed the requirements demanded by the State of Oklahoma.
Advanced Classical Diploma
The Advanced Classical Diploma is our most rigorous diploma option. Students who successfully complete this diploma receive special honors at graduation, an iPad for school work, and a $1000 scholarship. The diploma requires 30 total units of study, with units to be completed in History (4 units), Math (4 units), Lab Science (4 units), Literature (3 units), Classical Language (4 units), Bible (2 units) Rhetoric (2 units), Visual & Performing Arts (2 units), Logic, Technology, Rhetoric Composition & Grammar, Personal Financial Literacy, Senior Thesis and Colloquia (6 colloquia points per year). A minimum of 22 units must be completed at ACA.
Advanced Language Diploma
The Advanced Language Diploma is designed for students with a love for language. Students who successfully complete this diploma receive special honors at graduation, an iPad for school work, and a $1000 scholarship. The diploma requires 30 total units of study, with units to be completed in Classical Language (7 units), Math (3 units), History (4 units), Science (3 units), Literature (3 units), Bible (2 credits), Visual & Performing Arts (2 credits), Logic, Technology, Rhetoric Composition & Grammar, Personal Financial Literacy, Senior Thesis, Rhetoric I (1 unit), and Colloquia (6 colloquia points per year). A minimum of 22 units must be completed at ACA.
The STEM Diploma option requires 30 total units of study. This diploma emphasizes Science, Technology, Engineering and Math studies. Students who successfully complete this diploma receive special honors at graduation, an iPad for school work, and a $1000 scholarship. Courses completed should include: History (4 units), Mathematics (4 units), Lab Sciences (5 units), Literature (3 units), Classical Language (2 units), Bible (2 units), Visual & Performing Arts (2 units), Rhetoric I, Logic, Technology, Rhetoric Composition & Grammar, Personal Financial Literacy, Senior Thesis and Colloquia (6 colloquia points per year). Students working toward this diploma must participate as a Lab Assistant (Intern) twice. A minimum of 22 units must be completed at ACA.
Standard Classical Diploma
The Standard Classical Diploma requires 27 total units of study. This diploma includes Classical Language (2 units of Latin, Greek or Hebrew), History (4 units), Math (4 units), Lab Science (4 units), Literature (3 units), Bible (2 units), Rhetoric I, Visual & Performing Arts (2 units), Logic, Technology, Rhetoric Composition & Grammar, Personal Financial Literacy, Senior Thesis and Colloquia (3 colloquia points per year). A minimum of 15 units must be completed at ACA.
Performing Arts Classical Diploma
This diploma option requires 27 total units of study. This diploma emphasizes Visual and Performing Arts (4 units), and requires History (4 units), Mathematics (3 units), Lab Science (3 units), Literature (3 units), Classical Language (2 units of Latin, Greek or Hebrew), Bible (2 units), Rhetoric I, Logic, Technology, Rhetoric Composition & Grammar, Personal Financial Literacy, Senior Thesis and Colloquia (3 colloquia per year in approved subjects with 1 approved performing arts colloquia unit). Students working toward this diploma must participate in three ACA senior high productions and two ACA production internships. A minimum of 20 units must be completed at ACA.
Home School Diploma
This diploma option requires 23 total units of study. Students in this category participate in the ACA graduation ceremony and receive a Home School diploma from their parents. Parents are required to submit a copy of their student’s transcript to ACA prior to Graduation. The student must be involved with the culture of ACA and have completed Social Studies (3 units), Mathematics (3 units), Lab Science (3 units), English (3 units), Foreign Languages (2 units - classical preferred), Bible (2 units) Visual & Performing Arts, Technology, Personal Financial Literacy, Senior Thesis, Electives (4 units) and Colloquia (3 colloquia points per year attending ACA). A minimum of 3 units must be completed at ACA and at least 12 Home School units are required to qualify for this diploma.
Winter Court, our annual formal banquet for high school students, always follows a medieval theme, with the crowning of a King and Queen and a wonderful time of celebrating who we are in Christ. By tradition, junior high students serve at Winter Court, and although they work very hard, it is a great time for them as well.
At ACA, while encouraging, even pushing, our students to read great books, our goal is not that they love books. Rather, we want them to love truth and to learn how to recognize truth when it shows up in the thinking and ideas of many different authors. The very beginning of true learning is the realization that there is something more, something greater than ourselves. That realization comes in different ways. For some, it comes in small, quiet steps, as the student explores the great books that free him from enslavement to the present and “relevant” and opens his mind to consider greater thoughts and ideas of another time. This freedom grows in stages and leads to a love of truth and wisdom.
… we want them to love truth and to learn how to recognize truth …
St. Augustine’s philosophy of Christian teaching reminds us, “A person who is a good and true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord, wherever it is found, gathering and acknowledging it even in pagan literature …” Accepting universal truth not only opens a bridge for relationships based upon a solid foundation for communication, it also allows those relationships to become the best means of teaching one other.
Education requires trust. It involves opening ourselves, becoming vulnerable, allowing new ideas and thoughts to be explored and examined. At ACA we have discovered that the greater the appropriate relationship between teacher and student, the greater the learning that is possible.
Each colloquium studies one book, epic poem, piece of music, art, or topic, so that the focus is limited and “bite-sized.”
It is for both of these reasons — the importance of truth and the importance of relationships — that ACA added colloquia to its study program in the high school. These small discussion groups, offered frequently throughout the year, add another level to our academic challenge. Each colloquium studies one book, epic poem, piece of music, art, or topic, so that the focus is limited and “bite-sized.” It has only a handful of students to allow for intimate discussions of the topic. Each colloquium is offered by a mentor and is based on a work he or she loves. The colloquium meets outside the normal classroom and centers on discussion of the great elements of the piece. While students must prepare for the meetings and are expected to participate, there are no tests or grades … only a love of what can be learned for its own sake.
Some examples of colloquium offerings include Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Plato’s “Republic,” “The Abolition of Man” by C.S. Lewis, and “Assumptions That Affect Our Lives” by Christian Overman.
What students receive from a colloquium is proportional to their desire for truth, goodness, and beauty, and their willingness to build relationships with the mentor and the work. We have found that in this nontraditional setting, the student often gains a greater appreciation for the mentor, and the mentor for the student, and both gain a greater love for the truth they discover together.
The Charger Round Table
Each August, soon after school has begun, our Junior High and High School students spend a couple of days at New Life Ranch. This is a special time of bonding with House members, learning leadership skills, listening to fellow classmates, growing in Christ, and having a lot of fun.
Time is devoted to praise and worship in the chapel, followed by the Charger Round Table. This is one of our most important New Life Ranch traditions. Imitating a profound medieval custom, our round table has no head and demonstrates the equal value of every person’s thoughts.
The Houses compete in indoor and outdoor athletic tournaments amidst high energy and cheers. One of our funnest traditions is the student v. faculty volleyball game.
Whether singing worship songs, playing volleyball, or making a human pyramid, our purpose at ACA is to celebrate together this life God has given us. The camaraderie that evolves from the time spent at New Life Ranch lives and grows with the students throughout the school year.
Junior/Senior Class Trips
Each year, the school sponsors an academic trip for juniors and seniors to round out their high school program.
In odd-numbered years, ACA partners with JCF Biblical Study Tours to offer a two-week tour of the land of Israel that has been called a “life-changing experience” by those who have gone.
In even-numbered years, our students journey with Smithsonian Student Travel to the eastern seaboard, visiting historical sights in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City.
Parents and extended family members are welcome to travel, too.
For high school students, chapel is a function of their Houses. The Chaplain of each House prepares the members for what will be covered that week in chapel and escorts them into the chapel area, where students sit in House sections. The worship team leads the students in worship. A Chaplain reads from the scriptures and leads prayer. The weekly messages cover Biblical truths, practical application of one of the school’s statements of faith, or a special topic offered by a special guest as a part of our Salt & Light Speaker Series.
These services encourage students in their individual faiths, challenge them to live in a Christ-honoring way, and remind them that they are united by their faith in Christ. Most importantly, the truth of the Gospel is uplifted, challenging both students and staff to center each part of their lives around Christ. ACA chapels are non-denominational in nature.
Clear, Concise Communication Skills
The Augustine Christian Academy School of Rhetoric is modeled after the classical training institutions that produced the great statesmen of Western Civilization. Such classical schools emphasized both reasoning and communication skills, providing their graduates with the desire and the ability to persuade the world of the truth of the Christian faith. Today the term is too often used to refer to over-ornate or inflated language. Instead, the School of Rhetoric gives high school students the opportunity to express clearly and persuasively the truths they have discovered in their research. Courses in speech and composition at this level complete the training begun in the logic classes of the School of Dialectic and produce students capable of standing for the Christian faith in a society that is increasingly relativistic.
Too often the individual disciplines are separated to the point that students see no interrelationship whatsoever. At ACA, students are taught that “nothing happens in a vacuum” and that “ideas have consequences.” In our history-driven curriculum, students discover the relationship of art, literature, music, and even scientific discoveries to the prevalent philosophy of the time. Everything is studied from a thoroughly Christian perspective helping students see that the ultimate question is what any person does with the revealed truth of God.
Students in ACA’s School of Rhetoric complete all of the Oklahoma State requirements for graduation and much more. The average graduate will complete 28 units of credit in a challenging college-preparatory program. Courses include four years each of math, science, English, history, and Bible. Courses in rhetoric, Greek, and Hebrew are also offered. To this academic load, students may round out their experience with team athletics, journalism, choir, drama, student leadership, and other extra-curricular pursuits. Music and art are a part of the standard curriculum for every student.
Diverse Understanding and Appreciation
The goal is a diverse understanding and appreciation for the wonder of our God as expressed in His creation.