Frequently Asked Questions

Some Fast Facts

How much is tuition?

  • $17,000 tuition, room, board
  • $1,200 activities fee
  • Partial need-based tuition discount may be available

What is the ratio of students to faculty?

  • 65 boarding students
  • 15 faculty and staff members

Is your school a place for troubled boys?

  • We do not accept boys who are in need of remediation for seriously defiant behavior.
  • We do not accept boys who struggle with drugs, alcohol, or moral character.

Do you accept learning disabled students?

  • We can sometimes accept a student with mild dyslexia or ADHD.
  • We do not have the resources to help students with serious disabilities.

What do your graduates do after leaving the Academy?

  • 90% of our graduates go to college
  • Many head to the military
  • Some enter trade schools

Any vocations to the priesthood or religious life?

  • Diocesan priests
  • Mendicant order priests (Dominican, Carmelite)
  • Latin Rite priests (Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Institute of Christ the King)
  • And a couple Benedictine monks, too

How do we apply?

May we come to the Academy for a visit?

 

20 QUESTIONS about Gregory the Great Academy

Let’s get started…

What is Gregory the Great Academy?

Gregory the Great Academy is a boys’ boarding school, grades 9-12, offering a rigorous yet joyful vision of a liberal arts education. Rooted in the Catholic tradition, the Academy raises boys in the intellectual, moral, and physical virtues emphasizing the formative power of liturgy, music, creation, and the humanities. Our poetic approach to education wonderfully revitalizes the cultural soil depleted by the decadence of contemporary culture so that a young man may grow naturally and supernaturally, reaching his full stature as a man and an image of God.

What is your story?

It all began fifty years ago with the Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas. The program was staffed by three talented and dedicated professors, John Senior, Dennis Quinn, and Frank Nelick. These three sought to restore Christian culture not so much by returning students to a time past as by awakening them to the ever-present wonders of reality, as expressed in the IHP motto: “Let Them Be Born in Wonder.” In 1993, The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter chose a graduate of the IHP, Alan Hicks, to implement his educational vision in founding a boarding school for boys called St. Gregory’s Academy. Mr. Hicks assembled a faculty made up of graduates from the IHP, Thomas Aquinas College, and Christendom College, and under his guidance, they synthesized their various educational approaches and influences. After existing for nearly two decades under the Fraternity of St. Peter, a group of teachers and alumni refounded the Academy as an independent institution in 2012. Although St. Gregory’s then took on a new name, Gregory the Great Academy, its mission and vision remain the same.

What is your mission?

Our mission is to form whole and happy men through adventurous encounters with the good, true, and beautiful, bringing our students into meaningful contact with each other and the things of earth and heaven. We take into account a boy’s appetite for action, and send him roving with Robin Hood, praying with St. Francis, and running with Achilles. We know boys enjoy challenges, so we square them off with Euclid and Shakespeare. We understand a boy’s capacity for supernatural virtue and participation in grace, and engage him in sublime liturgy and a lively prayer life. We see his need for imaginative and emotional appreciation of reality and the arts, and give him songs to sing, poems to say, balls to juggle, boards to saw, images to carve, and animals to tend. We form boys with thoughtful minds, pilgrim hearts, and contemplative souls, that they may become real men with real loves for real things; men who can see and sing and speak; men who know their God and know their pious duties. In these lie a happiness which is holiness, and that beatitude is our mission.

Tell me more…

So your mission is all about happiness?

We remember our Penny Catechism when it comes to our raison d’être, the reason why we are. God made us to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world, and be happy with Him forever in heaven. The happy life is rejoicing in the truth, as St. Augustine said, and so, in all we do, we strive to make life happy and to teach the art of happiness, of merriment, of festivity, of true rejoicing. Our school is a place to learn how to live well. “Better a crust with content than honey with a sour heart” resonates with our educational outlook, based on joyful friendship with each other and with Christ. In fact, Gregory the Great Academy judges its wellbeing by the happiness of its students. Happy boys and a happy life are our measures of success. Happiness is our goal, for it is the goal of any true education.  And that is why we rejoice, as happy as kings.

What do you mean by a “poetic approach” to education?

Great poets and artists have the gift of seeing things with fresh eyes, of experiencing them as they really are. We believe that everyone has this ability, but it tends to become crusted over, especially in our artificial, technological world. Take, for example, your experience of the ocean. You may have seen it many times. You read about it, see it on TV, refer to it casually in conversation, and you think you know what it is. Then one day you go to the ocean and see it as if you’ve never seen it before. It has become wonderfully strange to you, and your heart leaps up in praise for such an awesome creature. This can happen with many things: the face of a child, love, an apple. When it happens, we feel that we have been given a precious gift and that this is the way we should always experience things. At our school, we want students to experience “the dearest freshness deep down things” as much as possible. That’s why, negatively, we limit their use of technology. But more importantly, we put them in contact with primary things. Instead of listening to recorded music, they learn to sing and play for themselves. Instead of dissecting dead frogs, they go out and find them in streams and ponds. Instead of reading some textbook’s retelling of Virgil, they read the great man himself. Following this guiding principle, we give a high place to the unfathomable mystery of creation and the need to continually renew our knowledge by going and returning to things themselves.

What makes your school different?

At our school, everyone does everything. Athletes sing in the choir, scholars ride unicycles, city kids clean pig pens, country kids learn to tie a Windsor knot, every boy tries his hand at things he never would have imagined he might do in order to discover his talents as he learns to love his work and enjoy his play. The balance between work and play aims at a higher achievement in which work takes on the ease and delight of play. John Senior wrote that “It was the genius of St. Benedict (scienter nescius,as St. Gregory described him, ‘wisely ignorant’) who taught the pagan world that the surest way of leisure is in humble work offered up to God as play.” This integration of work and play provides a dynamic structure in which boys can grow and thrive. That structure includes a wide range of wholesome activities such as athletics, juggling, symposia, pilgrimages, concerts, plays, local community services, fine arts, farm chores, and cultural events. These activities are not “extra-curricular,” but the backbone of our formation.

What about the boys’ prayer life?

The boys at Gregory the Great have a vibrant prayer life. They sing Lauds at dawn like monks, recite the Angelus before meals like laborers in a field, pray the Rosary in the afternoon like dutiful sons, give praise to God after athletic contests like soldiers, and chant Compline after nightfall like men. At the center of all this is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the source and summit of all that is good, true, and beautiful, where the boys attend as acolytes, thurifers, crucifers, cantors, sacristans, and sextons. The sacraments, prayers, and devotions which take their form and inspiration from the Divine Liturgy prepare the minds and hearts of students for fruitful participation. The liturgical life at Gregory the Great has a palpable rhythm, daily and seasonal, which forms the core of our spiritual discipline. Everyday prayer harmonized with penitential observances, solemn processions, and banquets on feast days enact the dramatic unfolding of the life of Christ and those who followed His way. This is the legacy of the Church, and we bring our boys to this font to drink deeply, to move their hearts, mold their aspirations, and give voice to the deepest longings of their spirit.

Nuts and bolts…

How are the dormitories set up?

We take great care in the arrangement of the dormitories, where senior students are appointed as prefects to oversee each of the ten rooms. Every room is made up of boys from every grade, resembling a family where older brothers live with and help younger siblings. Prefects ensure that the five other students in his room get up on time for Lauds, make their beds and tidy their areas, and begin morning chores. Then at the other end of the day, he sees that they get to bed in an orderly fashion. Prefects are under the supervision of dormfathers, young men who reside on either end of two dormitory hallways and provide guidance to all students. The Head Dormfather and the Residential Dean are in charge of the overall order of the dormitories.

What is the daily schedule?

The day opens with the singing of Lauds. After breakfast and morning chores, the boys devote themselves to classes. Later in the morning the students attend either the Latin Mass or Divine Liturgy according to the Byzantine Rite, followed by lunch, recreation, and afternoon classes. Late afternoon provides a chance to build up strength and stamina in sports, then students return to the chapel for Rosary, followed by dinner, study hall, and time to relax with friends. Outside of school hours, students are under the supervision of dormfathers, who guide and mentor boys in wholesome activities. The boys complete their homework in daily study hall and the day ends, as it began, in prayer. Compline is sung every night, after which the boys troop off to bed.

7:00am – Lauds                       3:00pm – Athletics

7:20am – Chores                     5:30pm – Rosary

8:00am – Breakfast                 5:45pm – Dinner

8:30am – Classes                    6:20pm – Study Hall

11:00am – Divine Liturgy       8:10pm – Leisure

12:00pm – Lunch                    9:10pm – Compline

1:00pm – Classes                    10:00pm – Lights Out

What do the boys do on the weekends?

With morning prayer and a big clean up, the Benedictine spirit of Ora et Labora (Pray and Work) begins weekend life at the Academy. Our culture of friendship comes to fruition when we have time to take advantage of our large property, which includes woods and fields for exploring, camping, and stargazing, and within a short distance are several state parks, ski slopes, hiking trails, and many other opportunities for adventure. Weekends are also times for travel to sports and cultural events, either in nearby Scranton or farther afield. Trips to an opera, concert, or museum are often enjoyed by students and faculty alike. Camping trips are always popular, even winter camping. If a trip isn’t planned, we make sure campus fun is well organized. Our creative dormfathers are always coming up with original, enjoyable activities.

How do students get along with their teachers?

Our teachers strive towards an ideal of friendship with their students that flows from the Academy’s Salesian spirit. We seek a rapport that is marked by good will, respect, and affinity. Following in the footsteps of St. John Bosco, Academy teachers speak to students in the language of the heart, and students in turn are moved to look upon their teachers as friends and benefactors who seek their good. When correction is necessary, students avoid feelings of resentment since such actions are accompanied by friendly admonishments which appeal to reason and the reaches of the heart. As St. John Bosco said: “A master who is only seen in the master’s chair is just a master and nothing more. But if he goes into recreation with the boys, he becomes their brother.” By joining them in their moments of work and play, sharing their labor and laughter, teachers form bonds of friendship with their students that endure for years.

What is your approach to discipline?

All of our teachers and dormfathers are required to read Don Bosco’s writings on thePreventive System, for our discipline is formed in emulation of the saint who held that love and prevention are better motives to good discipline than fear and punishment. Thus, we prevent wrongdoing by good supervision and clearly defined rules and standards of behavior. When infractions do occur, discipline is always handled on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the particular circumstances. We strive to make an orderly, safe, and happy home-away-from-home for our boys. Our rules are few and sensible, with the good of the community and the individual in mind.

Digging deeper…

Why boarding school?

During adolescence, boys often have a strong desire to test their boundaries; they long to enter the world of men, but they are required to go to school. They desire more freedom than many families feel is safe to grant in this challenging world.  At a Catholic boarding school, boys can be away from the shelter of home and yet be safe to test their wings under the care of a staff dedicated to forming virtuous men. A good boarding school liberates a boy by placing him in an environment conducive to making good choices, offering clear, reasonable, easily-obeyed rules which everyone around him is following, forming a habit of virtue. Living together, boys learn the give-and-take of getting along with different personalities as they pray, work, eat, play, and study together. Freed from the distraction of companions who may be less focused on wholesome things, boys at a good boarding school find their own focus on the right things sharpened, where education becomes not simply about learning, but living.

Why all boys?

A long-standing tradition in schooling favors single-sex education, a model that was accepted for centuries and preferred by many saintly educators. Boys and girls live and learn better when they are educated separately, especially once they reach adolescence. They are different and deserve different approaches and pacing. Besides, when educated together, boys and girls greatly distract one another (which is especially true for boys). Such distraction impedes engagement with studies and habits designed to form virtue. In the end, education is about living out the truth, and boys at this age tend to be more honest and authentic when they are among themselves.

How do you win the hearts of boys?

We give “the whining school-boy, with his satchel/And shining morning face” things that he finds irresistible, and it is not always the stuff of pure reason. Talking about pirates, roaring a ballad over a fire, preparing a feast, getting tackled, reading a letter, sharpening a knife, smelling the night air, feeling the grip of a hand on the shoulder—all of these speak to the hearts of boys. An education that is worthy of the Christian man appeals to the heart by bringing the world to life before his eyes and under his hands, dazzling and fortifying the senses, imagination, and memory with the serene and terrible beauties of the natural world, the colorful images of literature and the instructive examples of history. In short, the aim of our education is to make the lovable beloved and to nourish the mind together with the heart. By giving boys things they cannot help but love—tales of adventure, challenging disciplines, manual arts, transcendent liturgy, camping, sports, music, time with friends—we are able to win their hearts and, thereby, form their tastes and thoughts.

Are you a “classical” school?

Although much of our curriculum is based on classical texts such as Homer, Virgil, Plutarch, Herodotus, Xenophon, et al., and all students study Latin, we are not a classical school in the popular sense. There is a common approach to classical education that is not very classical, where schools pack a catalogue of very grand material into a very narrow calendar, and apply these courses to students too young to appreciate them. We hold that classical education should unfold slowly and thoughtfully, being more about quality than quantity, espousing a traditional approach in education that is proportionate to the way that human beings teach and learn. Our school’s objective is to make the classical works enjoyable, and what is more, to capture the wonderful and delightful interplay of all things in every subject, because all knowledge derives from God.

How difficult is your academic program?

Our course of studies is demanding and, therefore, students who find academics more difficult than average may not profit from our program. It is not our intention, however, to educate boys whose main concern is scoring high grades. We wish for good hearts as much as good minds, and seek to embrace the difficulties involved in savoring a subject, giving it time to unfold and speak. Students who are willing to work with good spirit and diligence will succeed. The challenges of our curriculum are met in the spirit of friendship, whereby teachers observe and willingly work with the strengths and weaknesses of the young men in their care, and the students likewise, in charity and respect for their teachers, are moved to cooperate in learning.

The Lineup…

What does your academic program look like?

Freshman, 9th Grade

Latin I: Lingua Latinais our text, immersing students in the spoken language and giving them the basics of grammar and vocabulary.

Literature I: Freshmen hit the books, the good books—Treasure Island, Robin Hood, Tom Sawyer—and learn by heart poems that awaken wonder and delight.

American History: Told in a narrative manner to capture the drama in stories of the great men and bold events comprising the discovery and founding of our nation.

Natural History I: Getting down and dirty with plant and animal life, experiencing firsthand the names of nature and appreciating their inherent beauty and order.

Algebra I: Freshmen begin to speak the language of numbers from12x = 60 to -4y² + 16y + 13 = 0, amassing a toolbox of foundational algebraic principles.

Fine Art/Music: The arts are integral to a boy’s education, and our freshmen undertake drawing and sculpture, learn folk songs, and study Gregorian chant.

Scripture I: Highlights the adventures of the Old Testament and the depth of God’s love, always yearning to take us back no matter how far we stray.

Sophomore, 10th Grade

Latin II: Completing the story of the familia Romana, sophomores master all declensions and conjugations as vital preparation for the Latin Mass.

Literature II: A journey through the golden ages of Greek and Norse myth, giving a wondrous, stargazing view of gods and men, of virtue and heroism.

Ancient History: While students should know names, places, and dates, we present Greco-Roman history with the intrigue that gave birth to Western culture.

Agriculture Science: Sophomores unearth the fundamentals of agriculture, husbandry, and food production in book, field, barn, and kitchen.

Geometry: Math for men. Nothing trains the muscles of the mind so well as the beautiful and ennobling demonstrations of Euclid’s Elements.

Fine Art/Music: Further exercises in drawing and sculpture together with a fresh set of songs to sing and music history and theory to master.

Scripture II: Diving into the New Testament now, beginning with the Gospels and concluding with Revelationto show prophecies fulfilled by Jesus Christ.

Junior, 11th Grade

Latin III: Upper formers move on to more challenging readings about Roma Aeterna with Aeneas’ epic quest and Livy’s history of Rome’s founding.

Humanities I: The humanities humanize us with works of art in literature, history, and philosophy, such as The Odysseyand The Trial and Death of Socrates.

Rhetoric I: Juniors learn to be good men speaking well, studying and giving speeches, and preparing for public life in the service of goodness, truth, and beauty.

Natural History II: In a philosophic, imaginative approach to nature, students encounter the poetic and practical roles of man as steward of God’s creation.

Algebra II: Juniors prepare for advanced mathematical studies by honing skills of critical thinking and calculation which is the function of all mathematics.

Fine Art/Music: Moving on to architecture and art history, while still singing a capella in song and polyphony in choir.

Church History: Launching out upon the story of the early Church and the holy heroes who shepherded the faithful through times of glory and trial.

Senior, 12th Grade

Latin IV: The challenges come thick and fast with readings from Livy and Cicero as students increase their word hoard and acquaintance with Roman culture.

Humanities II: Adventures through some of the great works that have attained immortality, including The Aeneid, Beowulf, andThe Canterbury Tales.

Rhetoric II/Trivium: The trivium and quadrivium of the liberal arts, training the mind in the art of discourse, persuasion, and argument, culminating with a formal thesis.

Physics: Demonstrations and laboratory work aid students in understanding how the abstract concepts of the physical world are concretely realized.

European History: The Renaissance, the Protestant Rebellion, the Catholic Reformation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Era, and onwards.

Fine Art/Music: Classical architecture, the Masters, folk music, and singing in the Gregorian Schola Cantorum both in our chapel and other local liturgies.

Theology: St. Augustine, St. Benedict, and St. Francis teach seniors the secrets of living our Faith, with Chesterton and Tolkien keeping things lively.

Athletics for All

Gregory the Great Academy competes with local schools in soccer and rugby, and every student is required to participate in athletics, unless a physical condition prevents him. Sports practice is supplemented with strength training and is held every weekday. We are happy to have qualified for state rugby finals every year since our reopening, and have won the state rugby championship twice. Happy as we are with the team’s success, coaches teach sports as an opportunity to grow in virtue and discipline, and to approach opponents in a spirit of dignity and fair play.

The Guild Program

One afternoon a week, students and faculty retire from academic study to pursue artistic and craft-oriented skills. In small groups, students cycle through a broad array of guilds, including leather-working, sculpture, drawing, automotive basics, blacksmithing, carpentry, cooking, juggling, drama, and block printing. Beyond being good in and of itself, the guild program gets at the core of our educational model: that students will come to know the good, the true, and the beautiful through hands-on exposure, led by teachers who are in love with their disciplines and committed to forming bonds of friendship with their students.

Wrapping up…

How do you protect the boys from the distractions of technology?

Side by side with what we give students is what we refuse to give them, or rather, our firm belief that in order to make mental and physical room for the Good, we must remove the distractions of technology. In Principles of Catholic Theology, Cardinal Ratzinger said that, as technology advances, questions arise as to how rapidly it can alienate us from tradition and divorce us from any sane point of reference that brings unity of life. Unity of life and thought cannot be achieved in a climate of distraction and sensationalism. For this reason, our students are not permitted the use of television, music players, personal computers, cell phones, or other electronic devices. (Community telephones are available for student use and music players are also used and controlled by the staff.)  In order to freely develop a wholesome imagination in students, the Academy embraces this environment of technological poverty.

What sort of boy are you looking for?

We are looking for boys who are ready for the adventure of their lives, willing to step outside the world of “comfort zones” and “safe spaces,” and able to undertake a physical and intellectual challenge. We are looking for boys of good character and good will (we are not a reform school). We are looking for boys who enjoy reading good books and having friendly conversations about wonderful things (we are not an academic elite). We are looking for boys who can roll up their sleeves, work hard with both a pencil and a shovel, and be brave (we are not a prep school). We are looking for boys who know how to juggle, joke, and sing (or are interested in learning how). We are looking for boys who want a beautiful education, which is far more than the mere learning of subjects for the sake of a career. There is a cultivation of mind that, as St. John Henry Newman says, “implies an action upon our mental nature, and the formation of character,” and we are looking for boys who are ready for that action.