Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington have adopted innovative academic programs to help students succeed in life and build a better world. 

Facing financial and enrollment challenges, St. Jerome Catholic Academy in Hyattsville, Maryland, engaged in a school- and parish-wide consultative effort and developed a classical curriculum that has revitalized the school.

 Daniel Flynn, the principal of St. Jerome Academy, noted, “Our classical curriculum promises a learning adventure that will take our students from Mount Olympus in ancient Greece to King Arthur’s court and St. Benedict’s monastery in the Middle Ages. They will learn about Rome’s conquests and its ultimate fall, the rise of Christianity through the ages, and the thinking of our Founding Fathers as they embarked on the American experience over 200 years ago.”

The program stresses virtue and intellect, with the teaching of Jesus Christ and 2,000 years of Catholic thought, history, culture and arts as the foundation of students’ learning, as they make connections between eternal truths and our world today. 

Describing the excitement that characterizes the learning at St. Jerome Academy, the principal said, “Each morning when the school bell rings, the learning adventure continues!”

Other dynamic programs at schools in the Archdiocese of Washington include:

•  Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Maryland, cosponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington and the Salesians of Don Bosco, helps students work toward their dreams by participating in its innovative Corporate Work Study Program – the only one of its kind in the Washington area. At Cristo Rey, students from low-income families are able to work one day a week at leading businesses and institutions to gain professional experience and help pay the cost for their Catholic, college preparatory education.

•  The rigorous and challenging International Baccalaureate Program offered at three Catholic high schools here: Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Maryland, and the Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington, Maryland. The I.B. courses at Archbishop Carroll include biology, chemistry, mathematics, Latin, French, Spanish, and information technology in a global society.

Seventh grader Andrew Echeandia works on a small self-driving car at the STREAM lab at Mary of Nazareth School in Darnestown, Maryland. (CS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann)

Father Andrew White, S.J. School in Leonardtown, Maryland, is one of many schools in the archdiocese offering students the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program. Students from the Southern Maryland Catholic school have participated in statewide and national robotics competitions. In 2018, Mary of Nazareth School in Darnestown, Maryland, launched its new STREAM (Science Technology Religion Engineering Arts Mathematics) lab.

•  Also in 2018, Archbishop Carroll High School launched its new Jim Vance Media Program, named in honor of the late NBC News 4 anchor who had supported a scholarship program there.

•  To promote educational and career opportunities for the young women it serves, Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, Maryland, offers a law academy, an extensive engineering curriculum, an introduction to health science and health careers course, and a pharmacy technician program. 

•  To help students succeed in an increasingly interconnected world, St. Francis International School in Silver Spring, Maryland, offers a global learning curriculum for its students, who have family roots in more than 50 countries. 

In 2015, the school received an award from the National Catholic Educational Association for leadership in promoting diversity in Catholic education.

• In Washington, D.C., the four schools of the archdiocese’s Consortium of Catholic Academies provide a beacon of hope to families in their neighborhoods. Consortium students have strong test scores and graduation rates. Sacred Heart School in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood offers a bilingual English/Spanish immersion program for students from pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade. Other consortium schools include St. Francis Xavier Academy in the Hillcrest community, St. Anthony School in the Brookland neighborhood, and St. Thomas More School in the Highland community.

(This article is expanded from a feature in the Archdiocese of Washington’s 2018 Catholic Impact publication.)