School Culture

Aiming High, and Aiming Well

Students at Founders Classical Academy learn that education is good for its own sake, and the school strives to avoid the approach so common in K-12 education where achievement is pursued for the sake of achievement. Students are encouraged to seek honors but only when those honors are worth pursuing. They learn to be like the archer in the first pages of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, aiming high, but aiming for the good rather than the lucrative, the honorable, or the pleasant. The following lines from the Ethics, prominently displayed on the wall, provide students and teachers with daily guidance:

"If, therefore, there is some end of our actions that we wish for on account of itself... clearly this would be the good, that is, the best.And with a view to our life then, is not knowledge of this good of great weight, and would we not, like archers in possession of a target, better hit on what is needed?"

At Founders Classical Academy, education is good for its own sake and that the things that students are learning are worth knowing regardless of the path they choose after graduation from high school. Our hope is that our students will learn that happiness is most attainable by those who pursue virtue.

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Alexandria, Valedictorian of the Class of 2018.

Cultivating the Virtues

Students at Founders Classical Academy pursue a moral and intellectual education and are expected to behave in accordance with the school's core virtues: courage, moderation, justice, friendship, responsibility, prudence, and wisdom. Each virtue is accompanied by an explanatory statement intended to help students understand the virtue and the ways in which its associated vices can take root in our characters. We talk about virtue in the same way in all grades because we want students to understand that virtue is for all human beings no matter their age.

Courage

Remain steadfast when you are afraid. Practice perseverance when the work is difficult.

Moderation

Practice patience and self-control. Think before you speak. Keep your temper under control.

Justice

Follow the rules. Help others, and treat them fairly and with respect.

Responsibility

Take pride in your work and your duties. Hold yourself accountable even when others do not.

Friendship

Be kind and generous. Learn how to get along well with others.

Prudence

Deliberate before you act. Practice good judgment.

Wisdom

Cultivate a thirst for knowledge about the most important things.

The school's virtues are taken from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, the first and greatest book about virtue. The virtues are taught in ascending order and students are encouraged to practice the virtues with the understanding that the higher virtues will become easier as the lower virtues become habits. This is one lesson of the Nicomachean Ethics--that intellectual virtue is higher than moral virtue but depends upon it. To live the good life a person must cultivate good character as a foundation for the intellectual virtues.

Zach at the annual Archer Games.

Students in 6th grade practicing Latin.

Teaching American Citizenship

At Founders Classical Academy, we teach responsible citizenship. We believe that government should operate by the consent of the governed, and that a thoughtful approach to citizenship is therefore an essential component of patriotism. We believe that as responsible citizens we must improve the things in our regime that need improvement and preserve the things that are good, and that an understanding of the American founding is essential for an understanding of what is good for the country. Our students learn about America by studying its founding, and asking themselves what in our origins was good and true.

Our students learn that some of the principles of our political order have their origin in ancient civilizations. We recognize and celebrate the great debt that we owe to the ancient Greeks and Romans, and in studying these ancient peoples we are reminded that though history provides us with both good and bad examples, we are fortunate that the good examples have been preserved for us.

Our younger students prepare for citizenship by memorizing speeches and writings from the American founding and from Abraham Lincoln. In the Upper School students begin to engage in seminar discussions during class, and they learn how to put complicated ideas into words, and to disagree with each other in a civil manner. In Rhetoric, they practice the art of compelling speaking, and they learn to recognize clever arguments that can lead us away from the truth. The high school course sequence concludes with courses in both Government and Economics, and together these give students an understanding of the relationship between the founding-era approach to political problems and our approach today.

We expect our students to understand that they are part of a community and to remember that they have obligations to one another because they are with us. We believe that by practicing being good members of our small regime they will be prepared for citizenship in our country when they leave us.

Dylan leads the Pledge of Allegiance at our first commencement.

Students gather in the gym for assembly each Wednesday morning.

Student Leadership Through the House System

To cultivate the development of self-government, organization and execution, and leadership, the entire student body is divided into one of six houses (Beethoven, Da Vinci, Euclid, Herodotus, Newton, and Shakespeare) for their 7th-12th grade years. Each house, led by a Mentor Teacher, competes against the others in a series of academic and athletic competitions. Throughout the year, a student earns points for his or her house when recognized for distinction in the classroom, on the athletic field, or in words and deeds. Each house is also responsible for planning a school event and undertaking a community service project. Houses are led by a head boy and a head girl, chosen by their mentor, and by student representatives for each grade, elected by their peers.

Each Upper School house works together to perform acts of service for the school and our local community, and our highest performing students often spend time after school providing tutoring for their younger schoolmates.

Students at the annual Archer Games.

Honoring Excellence and Those That Came Before Us

At the end of each school year, students are honored for academic, athletic, and moral achievements. Students who have demonstrated excellence in a particular subject are recognized with subject awards by their teachers. The highest awards are determined by faculty committee and given to students demonstrating excellence in athletics (the Achilles Award), excellence in fine arts (the Homer Award), excellence in moral virtue (the Aeneas Award), and excellence in intellectual virtue (the Odysseus Award). The award for perfect attendance, a feat of determination and strength, is named after the strongest and most determined ancient people, the Spartans.

Students in second grade dress as ancient Greeks for World History Day.