Aquinas Classical Academy: A Beacon of Light in the American Northwest

The Aquinas Classical Academy (ACA) is an independent classical Catholic school in Bremerton, Washington.

Benozzo Gozzoli, “Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas,” 1471
Benozzo Gozzoli, “Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas,” 1471 (photo: Public Domain)

I recently spoke with Teresa DuBois, Chair of the Board of Trustees for the new Aquinas Classical Academy, a classical Catholic school in Bremerton, Washington.

My family and I first met Teresa a few summers ago, and over the years, we have come to share our enthusiasm for the rewards of Catholic education in the classical liberal arts tradition. So, when I learned that Teresa was now chairing the Board of Trustees for the newly-launched Aquinas Classical Academy, I knew that the work (really, ministry) of this promising educational institution was worth getting to know.

The Aquinas Classical Academy (ACA) functions as an independent classical school in the Catholic tradition for grades 9-12. ACA is faithful to the magisterium of the Catholic Church, and all board and faculty members eagerly sign the Oath of Fidelity to Catholic teachings regarding faith and morality. ACA’s patron saints are Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, and the school’s namesake, the Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas.

In another nod to the Order of St. Dominic, ACA’s efforts enjoy the prayerful support of the Nashville Dominicans teaching at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic School in Bremerton. Likewise, ACA’s framework of educational philosophy has a distinctly Dominican influence. The Academy now has a physical space reserved for its use on the grounds of Our Lady Star of the Sea, and you can learn more about that arrangement from Father Derek Lappe, pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea, via this podcast from February on My Catholic Faith Ministries.

Initially, there was some difficulty implementing classical education in the Catholic tradition in the relatively local community, but broader advocacy for the school is now thriving. Numerous parents in the Seattle region have looked for an alternative to other schools’ “comprehensive sex education” which is hostile to Catholic doctrine.

The U.S. Navy is the main employer in the ACA’s working-class geographic area. There will be about 15 to 20 students per class at ACA, with a projected maximum of 160 for the school. Still, the goal is around 80 students. The tuition will be around $7,000 per year, which is half the tuition of the next most affordable Catholic school.

While a tour of ACA’s website speaks for itself, as it stands out as a beacon, or even haven, of educational orthodoxy in a nation that seems increasingly antagonistic to the faithful transmission of moral teachings, Teresa has shared with me a variety of readings and other resources that point to an educational philosophy intended to draw every student to the ministry of Catholic classical education:

  • The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation by Rod Dreher;
  • Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher;
  • A Church in Crisis: Pathways Forward by Ralph Martin;
  • From Christendom to Apostolic Mission: Pastoral Strategies for an Apostolic Age by the University of Mary’s Msgr. James P. Shea;
  • The Case for Catholic Education: Why Parents, Teachers, and Politicians Should Reclaim the Principles of Catholic Pedagogy by Dr. Ryan Topping.

To learn more about the Aquinas Classical Academy, please visit here. May God bless this institution as it aims to draw its students — and the broader community — heavenward by forming the whole person into current disciples and future saints, on fire with love for Jesus Christ and his Good News.