A Rich History

Saint Thomas Academy, founded by Archbishop John Ireland, can trace its beginnings to September 8, 1885, when 66 students gathered in a renovated building on the old Finn Farm located on the shores of Lake Mennith (present intersection of Cleveland and Summit Avenues) in the western area of Saint Paul near the Mississippi River.

The Early Years

Originally called Saint Thomas Aquinas Seminary, it consisted of only two departments:

  • The theological department prepared young men for the Roman Catholic priesthood
  • The collegiate department prepared young men for university study and living a devout life

By 1890, a military program was formed under the name of the Saint Thomas Seminary Military Battalion. This early institution was the progenitor of four institutions: St. Thomas College, the St. Paul Seminary, Nazareth Hall Preparatory Seminary, and Saint Thomas Military Academy.

With the establishment of the St. Paul Seminary in 1894, St. Thomas College was incorporated, a part of which was the preparatory or Academic Department encompassing the first four years of a six-year institution; thus, Saint Thomas Academy was the parent organization. The fifth and sixth years were the Collegiate Department.

Saint Thomas Academy became a military school in 1905 and the program was under the direct supervision of the U.S. Army. In the school year 1908-1909, STA was selected as an Honor School by the U.S. Army for the first time, an award which STA has garnered almost every year since. The JROTC program, using a national curriculum, began in 1916.

The Academic Department of earlier years became Saint Thomas Military Academy in 1922 when a definitive distinction was made between the Academy and the College.

Establishing Roots

In September of 1965, 560 cadets moved to a new campus in Mendota Heights. With the move, the name of the school was changed to Saint Thomas Academy. At this time a new corporation and Board of Trustees was formed, completely separating STA from the University of St. Thomas. The basic format of STA until the early 1970s was a four-year, Catholic, college preparatory, JROTC, all-male high school, with day students and boarders.

In 1971 a Middle School was created, composed of seventh and eighth grade level boys, centered on the concept of small class sizes and individualized instruction. The boarding program was discontinued in 1974 because of a decrease in the number of young men choosing a boarding school.

STA Today

Now, Saint Thomas Academy continues in the tradition of being a Catholic, all-male, college preparatory, military school offering leadership development. College and personal counseling is an integral part of the education of its young men. Many activities, including 14 athletic teams and more than 30 non-athletic co-curriculars, are part of a cadet's education. In addition to the athletic teams, students participate in activities such as drama, chess team, Citation staff, speech team, Crack Drill Squad, Kaydet staff, photo staff, Cadence staff, rifle team, quiz bowl, band, orienteering, orchestra, debate team, math team, and mock trial.

As of 2015, Saint Thomas Academy returned to its beginnings as an independent military institution.

Our Approach

Since its inception, the heart of the educational program has been the Catholic faith. Young men are given courses in the various aspects of the Catholic religion. The priests and lay faculty offer the students Christian principles through their teaching and by example. STA numbers among its alumni priests, bishops, and brothers.

A distinguishing feature of Saint Thomas Academy is its ability to meet the individual, educational, and spiritual needs of its students. With an average class size of 18 students, cadets are taught by highly-motivated teachers who work together to meet individual needs. Academics, co-curricular activities, spiritual awareness, and leadership training all play an important role in each student's development.