Who is the human person?
This is the essential question each school must answer before it can presume to educate any child. The way the school answers it will directly impact everything the school does, from the design of its curriculum to the hiring of its teachers, from the rules it enforces to the achievements it celebrates.
While many schools today struggle to articulate who the human person is, who the student is, Catholic schools do not. We know by the light of faith and reason that the students we educate are made in the image and likeness of their heavenly Father. We know that He has a unique plan for each soul He has created. We know that it is the role of the school to support parents as they help their children realize this potential spiritually, intellectually, and socially. We know that, although our children are created by God and for God, they will contend with the reality of sin in their lives and the limits of their ability to choose what is true, good, and beautiful.
To choose Truth, Goodness, and Beauty is to choose the friendship of Jesus Christ. Proper education begins by presenting this relationship to students as desirable and ordered to their happiness. Once this premise is accepted, it is natural for students to engage each academic discipline, athletic competition, and artistic endeavor as an opportunity to place one’s talents at the service of God and neighbor. Education then becomes a grand adventure full of promise rather than a high stakes race designed to anoint winners and losers.
Our Lady of the Rosary’s Upper School will welcome students into a Catholic, classically-inspired environment that supports each individual to embrace and realize the potential God has given him or her.
Six foundational pillars:
It is not enough for a school simply to offer isolated courses in religion and periodic opportunities to receive the sacraments. This approach, all too familiar in many Catholic high schools, has not consistently produced graduates who continue to practice the Faith in college and beyond.
The Upper School will meticulously integrate the truth of Catholic teaching throughout the curriculum. We will hire teachers who model Catholic life and live it in a way that is appealing. We will admit families who support our mission and whose children will reinforce virtuous behavior and religious devotion among their peers. This is the means by which a school achieves not merely Catholic identity, but a Catholic culture.
Modeled on the Family
The Church rightly teaches that parents are the primary educators of their children. This truth reminds us that the role of the school is to extend the reach of parents rather than replace it. But it also suggests that the family itself provides an ideal environment in which children may learn.
The characteristics that make the family itself such an effective school – loving guidance, accountability, authentic friendship, and shared commitment – must also define our Upper School if it is to fulfill its mission as an extension of the home.
Focused on Core Curriculum
Schools aim to establish a culture of learning shared by all students. Yet this can only be achieved if students move through the curriculum as a team, contributing to the same conversations and confronting the same challenges.
The Upper School proposes a core curriculum, comprising the most essential content from the most essential disciplines, as the means by which we will create this culture of learning. The core curriculum will draw upon the best of what has been thought, written, and discovered in Western Civilization to provide students a strong foundation upon which to build in the years to come.
Inclusive of Diverse Learners
The Upper School aspires to be a home for your whole family. Whether you have a gifted student, a child with a disability, or one that is twice exceptional, we hope to include them and to challenge them according to their individual ability. Inclusion is not a niche education market, but rather a characteristic inherent to Catholic culture.
It means that brothers and sisters will not be forced into different schools but educated side by side and among friends who themselves bear witness to the diversity of persons God has created. The result is an environment that naturally opens minds and grows hearts as students progress in their studies.
Preparatory for Life
The Upper School will be a preparatory school in the broadest sense. Certainly, graduates will leave well prepared for college. But how often have we observed that many students prepared for college academics are at the same time ill prepared for those aspects of life that will most greatly impact their long-term happiness?
By its intentional design, the Upper School will help students develop the wisdom and virtue to be good husbands and fathers, wives and mothers, friends and colleagues, and future saints.
With our Lord’s blessing, we hope many of our students will discern a call to the religious life as well.
Integrated with our Parish
Along with the family and the school, the Catholic Church encourages full membership of the local parish community. At Our Lady of the Rosary the pastor and parish staff also serve to provide a complete Catholic experience of living, worshipping and working together.
Such communities are vital in a society that is increasingly fragmented, diverse, and diffusive. By integrating parish and school life the child learns that he belongs to a wider family.
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To fulfill the aim of creating a family friendly school and to provide a suitable education for each student, Our Lady of the Rosary Upper School will remain small intentionally. Rather than trying to offer every expensive extra curricular program, we will encourage families to participate in such activities in the wider community, as they are able. We believe a dynamic, person-centered school can best deliver what is needed to all our students.
Our small but beautiful school community will not only realize the spiritual, intellectual, and social potential of its students. We are committed to doing so at an affordable, sustainable tuition rate that is itself inclusive of all families. This commitment unites us in a mission of mutual service and reminds us that loving relationships with God and neighbor abide at the very center of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.;
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
Saint Benedict, pray for us!
Who will be in charge of the Upper School?
The Upper School will be a division of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic School, founded in 1955. OLR is a parish school under the immediate authority of the Pastor, Fr. Dwight Longenecker. The Headmaster will be Mr. Thomas Curtin, current Headmaster of Our Lady of the Rosary School.
As a school of the Diocese of Charleston, OLR is ultimately responsible to Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune and will honor diocesan expectations for governance and curriculum, which still provide significant room for the creation of a unique, exciting secondary school that meets the needs of Catholic families in the Upstate.
Why did you call it the Upper School? Why not high school?
The modern American high school conjures images of long corridors lined with identical lockers, an unforgiving social scene, and a culture that prioritizes glamorous sports and gadgets over tried and true education.
OLR’s Upper School will represent a continuation of the loving, person-centered Catholic environment that has defined its lower and middle school divisions for decades. We seek to offer a secondary school experience that does not dehumanize students, but supports them to grow in wisdom and virtue and to become more fully the men and women God created them to be.
What will the curriculum be like?
The Upper School will guide students through a core curriculum of learning that has been considered essential in each generation. The great literature and history of Western Civilization, classical Latin, traditional lab sciences, and the arts will enrich each student’s education. All courses will be infused with reverence for our Catholic faith.
Students at each grade level will move through their course of studies as a cohort, acquiring shared knowledge and experiences that will allow them to understand themselves and others deeply.
The core curriculum meets all the state graduation requirements and the prerequisites for college admission to competitive universities such as Clemson and South Carolina.
What about extracurricular activities?
Our sports and clubs will grow naturally out of the particular interests of the students in our school. If our students desire a chess club, a journalism club, or an ultimate Frisbee club our teachers will empower them to create and manage those activities with the school’s guidance.
While elite varsity sports might be a defining characteristic of many high schools, our focus will be in fielding teams that compete successfully while providing meaningful participation opportunities for all
OLR’s Middle School currently fields teams for volleyball, cross country, boys and girls basketball, and archery. We hope to offer at least these options in the Upper School.
How will you support students with exceptional learning needs?
Like the OLR Lower School and Middle School, the Upper School will strive to be an educationally inclusive environment. All students will learn together in the same classrooms, and teachers will make reasonable accommodations to meet the unique needs of gifted students and those with diagnosed challenges to learning.
A member of our leadership team will be pleased to speak personally with any parent who would like to learn more about the approach we might take with their student.
Will you offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses?
We do not plan to offer AP courses as such. But there will be several courses within our Core Curriculum that largely overlap with existing AP courses, and students will be welcome to register to take the corresponding exams when they are scheduled in the spring.
Success on these exams may require some independent study depending on the degree to which our curriculum matches the AP curriculum for that course. But our particular course objectives will not derive from the AP syllabus, but from our Catholic classical mission.
This curriculum seems pretty unique. How will it be perceived by college admissions?
The curriculum is pretty unique, and that’s a good thing. Colleges want unique students whose applications stand out, not simply those who look like everyone else. Some parents might be concerned about the Upper School not offering AP courses.
But when a school utilizes a core curriculum, the absence of AP courses on a student’s transcript is not interpreted as a lack of rigor or aptitude. Colleges evaluate applicants on the basis of how well they did with the courses they actually had to option of taking.
Ironically, this means that a student who takes only a few AP courses out of many possible options at one school may be deemed less competitive that a student who took none because none were offered.
What role will technology play in the classroom?
We believe technology should be used in a way that further confirms students in their humanity and does not undermine it. We will utilize laptops, classroom projectors, and online coursework.
But at all times we will consider the impact technology is having on students, both in their intellectual formation and in their relationships with teachers and peers. The greater threat to students is not their lack of sophistication with technology but their dehumanizing dependence upon it.