Saint Rita Catholic School

In the Classical Tradition
Preschool - Grade 8
"The soul of education is the education of the soul"

Our Classical Curriculum

Saint Rita Catholic School is a parish school in the classical tradition.  Classical education focuses on the historical narrative, literature, art, music, science, and religion of the Western tradition.  To convey this body of knowledge, our school employs a four year cycle of historical periods, with students in the primary grades introduced to the history and culture of each time period. Then as middle schoolers, they cycle back through those time periods for more advanced, higher level study. The time periods are:

The Ancient World: Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome are introduced in first grade – yes, our first graders can follow The Odyssey! Fifth grade revisits this time period, getting to read and discuss Antigone and The Aenid, and even participating in a recreated ancient Olympic Games!

The Medieval Period: The Middle Ages are introduced in second grade – what eight year old would not enjoy reading Robin Hood and shooting bows and arrows? Sixth graders cycle back through – debating heresies and field tripping to monasteries!

The Early Modern Period: In the wake of the Renaissance and Reformation, the age of exploration and the colonization of the new world take center stage in third grade and then again in seventh grade.  The American Revolution and legacy of the Founding Fathers are highlighted.

The Modern Period: Our fourth and eighth graders study the period from the American Civil War to the present, and can partner up on various activities, from memorizing The Gettysburg Address, to visiting local Civil War battlefields.

In studying this historically-based curriculum, our students are rarely on devices.  Our teachers rely heavily on class discussion, socratic seminars, the telling of stories, and the analysis of primary source texts.  Our learning is as active and hands-on as possible, and emphasizes the ability to read, write, and think well.  This is done through a progression of skills that are matched to the age and ability of students – from memorization to analysis to expression.  A classical education also imbues students with a particular sort of attitude or mindset – one of wonder and appreciation for God’s creation, a desire for goodness, truth, and beauty, and a sense of how to live a virtuous life.

For a fuller description of our classical tradition, please click this link to access a detailed overview. Some of the highlights will include:

  • Religion: academic study of the Catholic Faith intertwines with daily prayer and weekly worship at School Mass and Holy Hour with Eucharistic Adoration and Confession.
  • Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: K-3rd graders participate in this Montessori faith formation program, bringing to life aspects of the Mass, the sacraments, and the liturgical calendar in a hands-on, age-appropriate way.
  • Latin: begins in Kindergarten and runs all the way to 8th grade.  Studying Latin provides a strong foundation for future language learning, improves English grammar and vocabulary, and exposes children to the language of the Church.  Historically, our rigorous study of the language has prepared our graduates well for high school Latin or other world languages.
  • Humanities: is taught as an integrated mix of history, literature, and writing, focuses on the time period each grade studies. 
  • Math: (Sadlier) for our elementary and middle school students, helps develop linear, logical thinking, and problem-solving ability.  Our 8th graders who take Algebra have the opportunity to receive high school credit.
  • Traditional skills: spelling and cursive handwriting are taught in the elementary years.
  • Science: the study of God’s wonderful and complex creation forms a pillar of our curriculum from Kindergarten onward, with hands-on opportunities to grow vegetables in our gardens, care for our Bearded Dragons and tortoises, and participate in Science Fair.
  • Art and Music: these classes expose children to the master works of the Western tradition, especially that of the time period each grade is studying, and actively engage them in drawing, painting, and singing.  Our 4th-8th grade students also have an opportunity to join our weekly extra-curricular Schola choir, and our students can also learn a wind, percussion, or string instrument in weekly (optional) band classes.
  • Library: all of our children take a weekly Library course to learn library and research skills and study great literature of all kinds.  We seek to form avid and life-long readers.  All of our families are expected to read our canon of classical literature throughout their time with us.  5th and 6th graders can participate in the Diocesan-wide competition Battle of the Books!  
  • Physical education: physical fitness and activity is important, too!  All of our students run around outside during twice daily recesses (morning and afternoon) and participate in a structured weekly Physical Education class.  Our students can also participate in CYO track, cross country, and basketball.

A classical education is an adventure for the whole family, and we hope you will join us!

Arlington Diocese Curriculum Guidelines

St. Rita’s has been such a blessing for our family. The classical, Catholic model of education has instilled in our kids a love of beautiful stories, compelling history, sanctifying art and music, exciting science, and the foundation of faith to anchor it all. The teachers and staff really see each student as a soul to be educated. And the joy felt in the school halls speaks for itself!
– Anna