High School Theology Courses
For complete course descriptions, prerequisites and applicable grade levels, please see the course description handbook.
This survey course imparts a knowledge and love of Scripture. Students study the nature of Divine Revelation and learn how to appreciate the complex development of Scripture as it was passed down through oral tradition, set in written text, and made part of the canon. In keeping with Catholic tradition, students learn basic literary, structural, and historical methodological skills for Biblical interpretation. Students learn how to examine and clarify the meaning of Scripture; they also are encouraged to hear, in their reading of Scripture, the living word of God and reflectively seek to understand how God’s word applies to their daily lives. This course also fosters students’ moral and spiritual growth through the study of religious and spiritual leaders, examining how they responded in faith to contemporary issues and problems of their day.
Sacraments and Morality
This course integrates an exploration of Christian morality with the study of the seven sacraments. This study takes place primarily within the context of the challenges of popular culture as it is viewed through the media. Students study the concepts of objective and subjective truth, conscience formation, sin and grace, legal and moral authority, the Ten Commandments, the moral precepts of the Church, and the Gospel call to justice and peace. The students are introduced to three essential strategies for self-discovery: thinking, learning and communicating. This will raise the probability that students will be empowered to reach their potential as children of God and find true success well beyond their school years. Through the study of the seven sacraments, students learn of God’s abiding presence in the human person and the invitation to grow morally and spiritually. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is introduced to the students throughout the course of their study.
Church History and World Religions
First semester students learn the seven dimensions that are common to all religions to survey some of the largest and most influential religions from the primal age to modern times. The course strives to provide a general understanding and respect of each religion and the people who practice it, along with presenting a new perspective by which to more fully understand our own. Second semester students complete a historical survey of the Catholic Church’s history starting at Pentecost. The course covers the development of the early Christian community, the formation of the creeds, ecumenical councils, evolution of worship, evangelism, and major historical events in Church history including the Reformation, Vatican II and the contemporary Church.
Advanced Morality Courses
The Advanced Morality seminar uses the maturity of seniors to discuss issues chosen and led by students. The list of possible issues is a long one, but the course covers abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, discrimination, poverty, religious freedom, and other moral and ethical issues of our time that the Pope has highlighted as being critical in today’s society. Using Catholic social teachings and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, students study the principles that define and clarify the Church’s position on these issues in order to illuminate their thought processes.
Seniors take one of the following courses:
Advanced Morality and Christian Lifestyles
Christian Lifestyles considers those lifestyles compatible with common Christian vocations (e.g. chosen single life, religious life, ordained life, marriage). The goal of this course is to prepare the seniors to live a moral life beyond the walls of Saint Thomas. Issues include living in a diverse world, moral lessons from the Holocaust, using the Gospels as a foundation for living a life of moral action, self-discipline, and compassion. Other topics include current trends in Catholic spirituality, identity development, women’s issues, and closure to the STA experience.
Honors Advanced Morality
This seminar course will challenge students to study theology and justice at a deeper level. Advanced Morality and our Faith is an honors course taught at the college level. Post-secondary credit is offered through St. Mary's University with 3 college credits earned through P.A.C.C. (Program for Advanced College Credit), and course expectations will reflect this standard. Students will use a college level textbook. This course includes students presenting issues to the class. Students will reflect on the life and teachings of Jesus and on the tradition of the Church in learning about and discussing a wide variety of current moral issues such as sexuality, medical ethics, abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, poverty, and discrimination.
Advanced Morality and Campus Ministry
Campus Ministry connects academic learning with real-life application of Catholic values and principles. Grounded in the theological exploration of the social justice issues that each person must confront in daily living, this one-year course offered to 24 seniors is really a “living laboratory.” The Campus Ministers are responsible for planning and implementing all of the Academy’s outreach efforts to the poor, the vulnerable, the “at-risk,” the immigrant, and all those who live on the margins of society. Additionally, the Campus Ministers help shape the spiritual character and identity of Saint Thomas Academy by planning and leading all the retreats offered to our students, planning and helping to lead our various prayer services and Masses, and creating special liturgies for pivotal times in the school year.
Advanced Morality and Religious Themes in Art
The Advanced Morality seminar uses the maturity of seniors to discuss issues chosen by the students and led by them. The list of possible issues is a long one, but the course certainly covers abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, discrimination, poverty, religious freedom, and the other moral and ethical issues of our time that the Pope has highlighted as being critical in today’s society. Using Catholic social teachings and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, students study the principles that define and clarify the Church’s position on these issues in order to illuminate their thought processes.
Religious Themes in Art explores a variety of spiritual themes and the means artists use to express them. Judeo-Christian traditions serve as the content base. Students will grow in their appreciation of their own spiritual experiences and, above all, will understand themselves as creators. Topics and media include religious symbols, social justice themes, religious leaders, historical leaders, and the computer. The artists of the Renaissance, a field trip as part of a church architecture unit, and the building of a cross complete the semester. Students are also registered in Religious Themes in Art.
Graduation Requirements and Senior Service Projects
Saint Thomas Academy invites students to cultivate a vital and relevant spirituality through service, reflection, and prayer. The school’s goal is to empower students by encouraging them to become servant-leaders who respect others and work for justice and peace. Since this dimension of a student’s development is an integral part of its mission, the Academy has a graduation requirement of forty service hours, which are completed outside of school, along with ten hours of reflection and social analysis, which are incorporated into the senior Theology Social Justice course.
These fifty hours complement a two-week “Senior Project,” which is completed during the last two weeks of senior year, where students are mentored in their responsibilities within one of forty educational, health, or social service agencies.