Upper School

How is Upper School at St. Stephen’s Academy Unique?

Upper School covers grades 7 through 12 and includes both the Logic and Rhetoric stages of learning.

Students enter the Logic stage as old children and leave as young adults. It is a critical age in a student’s development, and our teachers and staff come alongside them to help shepherd and influence them as they grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually. A unique quality of our the education provided to this age of student in comparison to other schools in the area is that we have a strong focus on teaching students to think critically and logically. This involves teaching formal logic, where students are taught to formulate coherent and sound arguments and recognize errors in arguments, both their own and others’. These skills can then be brought to bear on all of the other subjects that they will come in contact with during the rest of their education. Students in this stage of school will also be capping off their studies in Latin and should be able to now read and speak in this ancient language, opening up a vast array of source texts in Western literature, history, and science. These challenging academic years will teach students how to become self-learners, manage their schedules, and think critically and logically.

hs4When students move into the Rhetoric stage, it is time to finish our task of forming a graduate that has Godly Character as well as Wisdom and Eloquence. We realize that education and sanctification are lifelong endeavors and that every graduate has unique gifts, but our goal as an institution is to work alongside our students’ parents in fostering these qualities in our students. The quality of Godly Character has been developed diligently since the first day of Kindergarten, and this work will continue in the Rhetoric stage, but the focus turns now on developing students with Wisdom and Eloquence. Our Rhetoric stage is unique from other area high schools in that our students are taught formal Rhetoric where the student learns to express himself with “fluency, grace, elegance, and persuasiveness.” (Bauer, The Well-Trained Mind) Our students are taught to take the facts they have been learning since the grammar stage, organize these facts into logical statements and arguments, and then express these thoughts in a winsome way. But merely expressing thoughts and arguments well does not make for a wise and eloquent student. These skills must be guided by the Spirit of God to express the truth of a given subject. So what does this look like at St. Stephen’s from a practical perspective? Across subjects students will have much of their learning revolve around in-class guided discussions where they will discuss and debate the great themes of human history and literature, always measuring these themes against the plumb line of Scripture. Students will also write and defend a senior thesis before faculty as a way of demonstrating what they have learned through their educational time at St. Stephen’s Academy.  Participating in this “Great Conversation” with wisdom and eloquence is how our students are uniquely prepared to go out into the world and represent Christ and His kingdom in all endeavors.