These are questions many parents have asked when they are interested in Gregory the Great Academy for their son, but the best answers come from a living voice. We encourage you to call us at 571-295-6244 to discuss these and any other questions you have. Sending your beloved son to boarding school is a big decision, a life-altering one, and we are here to help you determine if it is the right one for your family.
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What advantage does boarding school provide?
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 also desire more freedom than many families feel is safe to grant in this challenging world. At Gregory the Great Academy boys can be away from the shelter of home and yet be safe to test their wings under the shelter of a staff who are dedicated to the school’s mission of forming virtuous Catholic men.
The world is full of good things, but many of these goods are misused or overused. And the world is also full of temptations away from the good. The Academy liberates a boy from having to decide for himself whether a choice is good or bad by offering very clear, reasonable, easily obeyed rules which everyone around him is following, forming in him 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. Because they are free from the distractions of friends whose family lives are perhaps not strongly focused on eternal things, boys find their own focus on the right things sharpened. They not only learn about the spiritual life, they live it in community. As one former student said, “I like the peer pressure here because it pressures me to follow the right crowd.”
Why all boys?
A long-standing tradition in schooling favors single-sex education. It is a model that was accepted by societies 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. Besides, they are different and deserve different approaches and pacing. Boys and girls, when educated together, greatly distract one another; this is especially true for boys. Such distraction—whether from girls, entertainment technology, or popular and pernicious media—retards a true education which builds up good habits through continual and concentrated engagement. A boarding school can provide such concentration because it renders education a continuous, focused, habit-forming way of life.
How do we apply for admission?
Call Karen Beebe, Admissions Director, at 571-295-6244 and she will send you an application either by email or postal service. You may also send a request for an application through this link, or email Mrs. Beebe directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After you complete the application and mail it to us we will review within two weeks and will let you know whether or not your son is accepted for enrollment. If you indicate that you need financial aid, Mrs. Beebe will send you instructions and we will determine whether we can grant you a discount, usually two or three weeks after the aid application has been submitted.
Is there an admissions test? What academic qualification do you require?
We do not administer an admissions test. We ask to see your son’s transcript from seventh grade up to the present and will conduct an interview if we have any questions. Good character is of the greatest importance, and we assess that by asking for three recommendations, one from your pastor and two from teachers, or, if your son is homeschooled, from adult, non-family friends who know your son well. We anticipate nothing but your good will and honesty in your own assessment of your son’s character and habits.
As for academics, a boy should be able to read and understand very well what he has read, and he should be ready for Algebra I if entering ninth grade. At enrollment, the Latin teachers will determine what level to place your son in; students take Latin every year. Our aim is not to produce an academic elite, but to foster love of God in an academic setting. At the same time, we take learning very seriously, and expect students to come prepared for diving into a challenging, though not burdensome, life of scholarship. See our Academics page for course descriptions.
What if we have been homeschooling?
Many of our students—at least half—come to us from having been homeschooled. We willingly accept whatever record you have kept from courses your son has studied, and we accept your assessment of how well he learned what he studied. You may write a brief narrative or assign a letter or numerical grade. We are familial in our learning approach and homeschooled kids do well with us.
What is the charge for tuition and room & board?
Before addressing this, we want you to know that we offer need-based financial aid to all who qualify. We do this through an application assessed by an independent service we employ. We do not publish our tuition and room & board charges because our hope is that you will apply for your son’s admission if you feel he has his good character to offer to the Academy, that he is capable of working hard in our academic program, and that he will benefit from our community life. It is our firm hope that no one would decide not to apply solely for financial reasons. We put first things first and encourage you to do the same.
Call the Academy at 571-295-6244 and we will happily discuss financial matters and any other questions.
Who qualifies for financial aid? Is there an income ceiling?
All are welcome to apply for aid if they believe they are in need. We ask families to prayerfully discern what sacrifice they can make for a son’s education and to do their best to find resources from friends and family if they cannot pay full tuition.
May we visit the Academy?
We encourage a visit so that you can see us in action, and we would like to meet you and your son. Call the office at 571-295-6244 or email Admissions at email@example.com and we will schedule a visit.
During a visit, you and your son may sit in on a few morning classes, and then we would be happy if you could join us for lunch, where you will have the chance to meet the whole faculty. After lunch, Mr. Fitzpatrick, our Headmaster, would gladly talk to you and your son to get to know you, and will answer questions you may have.
What are the vacations?
- Thanksgiving week (Saturday before Thanksgiving through the Sunday following it)
- Christmas (four weeks)
- Easter (Holy Thursday through the First Sunday after Easter)
What do the boys do on weekends?
Recreation is at least as important as academics in the experiential formation of our boys, so we carefully plan weekends to provide sports, games, and culture. We take trips to museums, plays, operas, and concerts, both locally and in New York City or Philadelphia (both two hours away). Several camping trips are always offered, even winter camping. If a trip isn’t planned, we make sure campus fun is well organized. Our creative dorm fathers are always coming up with original, enjoyable activities.
If you live close enough, you may bring your son home for a weekend, of course. But we discourage frequent weekends away from campus because so much of the real culture, as well as the friendships, of the Academy are built then.
Is Gregory the Great Academy a “classical” school?
Although much of the curriculum is based on source classical texts such as Homer, Virgil, Plutarch, Herodotus, Xenophon, et al., and all students study Latin, our philosophy of education is different from schools that call themselves classical. The difference is impossible to state in a paragraph, but it is based, first of all, on the community of friendship among the teachers. We are not separated by our “subjects,” but come together through discussing how they fit into a whole.
Our teachers are educated in the Liberal Arts and work to find and teach the integration of knowledge, the wonder and delight that arises from the direct experience of reality, because all knowledge derives from God. We call this Poetic Education and it is founded on a worldview formed in Catholic orthodoxy and influenced by the late Dr. John Senior in his works The Death of Christian Culture and The Restoration of Christian Culture.
What form of the Mass does the Academy offer?
We are currently blessed to have a bi-ritual priest in residence who celebrates the Latin Mass, but because he is ordained in the Byzantine Rite, Father also offers the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.
What is the course of study?
See the Academics page for brief descriptions of our courses.
Do graduates generally go to four-year colleges?
More than 90% in any given year do, and many of these enroll in Catholic Liberal Arts colleges—Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, Thomas Aquinas College, Christendom College, and Wyoming Catholic College. Franciscan University, University of Dallas, and Ave Maria University are also popular choices, but some graduates go on to bigger schools such as Notre Dame, Catholic University of America, and their home state universities. Others choose to enlist in the military or to work after high school.
Have you had vocations to the priesthood or religious life?
About 6% of our graduates have entered or are currently discerning the priesthood or religious life.
What are the teachers’ qualifications? Do they have degrees in education?
Our teachers hold bachelor’s degrees, and some have master’s degrees and are currently working toward a Ph.D. With due respect for the requirement of state certification when a teacher wants to work in a public or diocesan school, we do not believe a degree in education provides an understanding and love for the Liberal Arts, our curriculum’s foundation. Brief biographies of our teachers may be found here.
How many students do you have?
Our capacity is 60 and we typically fill all available openings. If we are full and your son is an active applicant, we will put his name on a waiting list in the event a current student withdraws.
How are the dorm rooms organized?
Each room is captained by a senior prefect, and the other five or so roommates are drawn from the junior, sophomore, and freshman classes. Roommates work together to keep their dormitory spaces in good order and also in a weekly rotation to keep the common areas clean and tidy.
What is the Academy’s policy on discipline?
Our guiding principle is St. John Bosco’s treatise Reason, Religion, and Kindness—we read and discuss it every year during the summer. The saint advocates what he calls the preventative method, whereby boys are kept busy and are benignly supervised in order to provide guidance and prevent bad behavior. (Here is a link to an outline of the saint’s method.)
Human beings being what we are, breaches of discipline do occur. For less serious offenses—dress code violations, lateness—a boy might be assigned to the dishwashing crew beyond his regularly scheduled term of duty. For more serious infractions, he could suffer an in-school suspension and be given extra chores. Very serious offenses, such as smoking or bullying, could result in expulsion, but judgments are always case-by-case. We make every effort to be both just and merciful, and parents will always be consulted for serious matters.
Why does the Academy ban students’ use of electronic devices?
Students at Gregory the Great Academy are required to embrace a life of “technological poverty,” which means relinquishing cell phones, iPods, computers, and the like; arriving at school with only the essentials for a “disconnected” life. The pedagogy at work here is simply to free students from distraction and to allow them to focus on the important things in life: growth in virtue, cultivation of friendship, and contemplation of the Divine. Any infringement of this policy—this way of life—results in severe repercussion, if not expulsion.
You may wonder why such radical measures are taken at this school. An iPod can make good music accessible. Laptops and tablets make information easy to acquire. Cell phones keep us in touch and in some situations, safe. One could posit that we are freer today than ever before, thanks to the Internet. The world is now only a click away—but only offered on the world’s terms.
Our practice of requiring students to relinquish electronic devices is not enforced out of paranoia, ignorance, or a will to oppress, but to create an atmosphere conducive to education—to the experience of joy and contemplation. This restriction is radical, but radical action is called for. Modern technology and the habits surrounding it distance people from creation. The influence of television, video games, and popular music distort human vision by deforming the imagination, inclining more to bizarre fantasy than to reality. As Catholics, we believe that we are fashioned in the image and likeness of Him who is “the image of the invisible God;” and so do not contest the proper use of imagination, which is ordered not to fantasy, but to reality. The best way to realize this is in an open environment, where imagination can become receptive and reflective of reality, in all its goodness and beauty.
This article written by our Headmaster, Mr. Sean Fitzpatrick for Crisis Magazine explains why we embrace a life of technological poverty.
Is the Academy a place for troubled students?
We accept boys of good character whose parents want to provide their sons with wholesome friendships. Therefore, we cannot accept boys who are in need of remediation for seriously defiant behavior, drugs, alcohol, or defective morality.
Do you accept Learning Disabled students?
If a boy has a minor learning disability, we need to know about it and can sometimes accept a student with mild dyslexia or ADHD. We do not have the resources to help boys learn if they have more serious disabilities.
What are the staff screening requirements and child safety policies?
We comply with state requirements that every person who works with students be screened by the FBI for any criminal offense, and that he or she has no record of child endangerment on either a state or national level. All staff members are also required to take a Catholic child abuse prevention program called Virtus.
Do you have the Bishop’s approval?
We have the approval and blessing of the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, to operate our independent school in the Catholic tradition within his diocese. His Excellency has been supportive of our mission and we stay in close communication with him.