Curriculum

The Summit offers a rigorous honors level curriculum in which students enjoy a cohesive, content-rich education. The course sequence and emphasis on teaching the Great Books and collaborative instruction facilitates cross-curricular study, active student engagement with peers and instructors in a clear, unitive curriculum.

 

The Liberal Arts Core

Theology

A living and integrated faith in Jesus Christ is at the heart of our mission. Students will be required to take four years of intentional study in different areas of theology.

Humanities

The Summit student will explore history and literature in a four-year sequence of courses that will ensure a rich exposure and through knowledge of the canon and history of Western Civilization.

Mathematics

The goal of the mathematics program at The Summit is to have students arrive at a place of proficiency in both the theoretical understanding and the practical application of mathematics.

Science

Nature is the fundamental object of study and students will come to an understanding of what are the principles of nature, and how scientists come to understand this truth.

 

Languages

Classical languages are a central component of the classical learning and give the student a mastery of academic vocabulary that will readily translate across multiple disciplines.

 

Electives

Our program is designed to ensure that all students receive an introduction to a variety of electives. Students will have the opportunity to pursue specific areas for developing higher levels of mastery.

 

 

Theology

A living and integrated faith in Jesus Christ is at the heart of our mission. Historically, theology is understood as the "Queen of the Sciences," meaning that all disciplines are most free to operate as themselves when they are ordered towards a cohesive unity that elevates the soul. The classical approach to education seeks to unify the different disciplines so that they are each seen as different perspectives on the same creation. Students at The Summit will be required to take four years of intentional study in different areas of theology.

  • The first two years will focus on Scripture studies (corresponding with their chronological studies) and Early Church history.

  • Later years will dive into areas of Christian Morality, Sacramental Theology and the Early Church Fathers.

 

History & Literature

History
The history curricula at The Summit Academy is combined into a four-year integrated survey of Western Civilization. This time-tested approach provides a reliable context that is necessary for truly appreciating and understanding themselves and their cultural inheritance.

Students will learn to think, research and write historically. This means that they should learn to ask questions about texts, artifacts, the sequence of recorded events and engage with the evidence that historians employ in order to learn to discern meaning. Students learn to analyze each text or artifact as having a particular author, with an intended audience and purpose that includes certain presuppositions. This practice is upheld for both primary sources as well as contemporary textbooks.

Literature
The medium of literature is language, and classes are largely a development of students' engagement with language, through informal class discussion and formal seminars as well as an oral examination. Complementing the study of literature is the development of students as writers through compositions of exploration, literary analysis, and argumentation.

We study literature not to confirm, what we already think, or to confirm, by means of “improving stories,” theological and moral truths that we already know—we do not even study literature to satisfy an arbitrary notion of “having read the greats” that graduates of classical schools are expected (rightly) to fulfill. We study literature because we are human. Much of reality can be beheld and understood only by experience—that is, imaginatively—and to enter into the world of a story is to experience that world, to awaken one’s imagination by contact with the imaginative world of the author.

Studying literature is only secondarily about what a student will be able to do for having studied it—to think, to read receptively, to write in a way that does justice to the reader’s intelligence; studying literature is primarily about what kind of person the reader will become. Is the student, one who will be capable of real thought and contemplation, of charity toward an author and those in conversation, of letting what is read judge the reader before the reader judges it?

An introduction to The Great Books

I. The Summit Freshmen begin, appropriately enough, at the beginning: with a comprehensive investigation of the origins of the West, and of civilization. From a telescoped survey of the history of the universe, the earth, and human origins, the narrative proceeds through a more detailed treatment of primitive culture, archaic civilization, and the coming of the world religions to a full exposition of the Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans as the three classical roots of the West.
Readings may include:

The Epic of Gilgamesh
Other Ancient Near-Eastern texts (selections)
Classics of the “Axial Age" (selections)
Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey
Hesiod, Works and Days
Greek Lyric Poetry (selections)
Pindar, The Odes (selections)
Aeschylus, The Oresteia
Sophocles, The Theban Plays
Herodotus, The Histories (selections)
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War (selections)
Plato, selections
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics and other selections
Demosthenes, select speeches
Cicero, select speeches
Plutarch, Parallel Lives (selections)
Ovid, The Metamorphoses (selections)
Virgil, The Aeneid and selections from his other works

N.b. With regard to the literature of the Hebrews, Freshmen read virtually the whole of the Old Testament as a part of the theology curriculum. It should also be noted that they read the pre-Socratics, Plato's Timaeus, and further selections from Aristotle in Introduction to Natural Science.

II. As Sophomores, and building on the foundations laid by their first year of study, students at The Summit take up the question of the role of Christianity in the formation of Western culture throughout the period of its greatest influence: namely, from the Incarnation to the flowering of Western Christendom in the High Middle Ages. Although it thus culminates with a certain emphasis on the Christian West, the course begins with a thorough study of Byzantine culture, tracing both in East and West this common story of the formation of Christendom from the conversion of the Roman empire through the making of Europe as we know it.

Readings may include:

The Apostolic Fathers (selections)
Augustine, The Confessions
Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy
Patristic and Medieval homilies (selections)
Byzantine and Latin liturgical poetry (selections)
Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People (selections)
Beowulf and selections from Anglo-Saxon poetry
Gawain and the Green Knight
The Song of Roland, El Cid, The Niebelungenlied, and Njal's Saga (selections)
Chretien de Troyes, select Arthurian romances
Aquinas, Summa Theologica (selections)
Bonaventure, Ascent of the Mind to God and others (selections)
Dante, The Divine Comedy
Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (selections)
Langland, Piers Plowman (selections)
Everyman and other Medieval dramas

N.b. As with the Freshman and the Old Testament, Sophomores at The Summit read the whole of the New Testament as a part of the theology curriculum. In this context, they will also explore further key writings of the Fathers and the Doctors.

III. The junior year at The Summit begins with what Huizinga has famously called the “waning” of the Middle Ages and proceeds to study the process by which the religious unity of Medieval Christendom gradually came to be replaced by a secular, European humanism through the unfolding of the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment, and extended in this form through the discovery, conquest, and colonization of new lands to fill the contours of our present global “village.” With the new developments in religion and politics, philosophy and culture, and science and industry, which mark the early modern period, students will come to discern the seeds of the two revolutionary centuries that take us down to our own time. In literature, having begun a survey of the English canon already with Beowulf, Chaucer, and Langland as Sophomores, students will continue as Juniors and Seniors to read the great English and American classics and to come to a profound appreciation for their mother tongue.

Readings may include:

Machiavelli, The Prince
Petrarch, Canzoniere (selections)
Boccaccio, The Decameron (selections)
Erasmus, The Praise of Folly (selections)
Montaigne, Essays (selections)
Luther, Commentary on Romans and Three Treatises (selections)
Calvin, Institutes (selections)
Selections from Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Hume, and Locke
Selections from Ss. Ignatius, Teresa, John of the Cross, and Francis de Sales
Pascal, Penseés (selections)
Cervantes, Don Quixote (selections)
Spenser, The Faerie Queen (selections)
Shakespeare, select plays and sonnets
The King James and Douay-Rheims Bibles (selections)
Johnson, Dictionary of the English Language and other selections
Boswell, Life of Johnson (selections)
Milton, Paradise Lost
Selections from Voltaire and Rousseau
Goethe, Faust
Select English poetry of the Elizabethans and Romantics

IV. Having touched in various ways upon the remote origins of the Western experience throughout the preceding years –seniors at The Summit will follow the development of the West throughout a period of revolutionary and global change. The French and American revolutions, the Civil War, industrialism, and immigration, the World Wars and the Great Depression, Communism and Cold War, and the currents and events of more recent decades will bring The Summit Seniors from studying the dawn of history as Freshmen down to the present day and age.

Readings may include:

The Declaration of Independence
The Constitution of the United States
The Federalist Papers (selections)
Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France and on the American Colonies (selections)
De Tocqueville, Democracy in America (selections)
Select stories of Irving and Hawthorne
Selections from Emerson and Thoreau
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas
One of the Great English novels: Austen, Thackery, or Dickens
One of the Great American novels: Melville, Twain, or James
Select English and American poetry from the late 19th and early 20th centuries
Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Solzhenitsyn, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Marx-Engles, The Communist Manifesto, and selections from Nietzsche and Freud
Selections from Claudel, Peguy, and Bernanos
Selections from George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton and the “Inklings”
T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land, and other poems
The Fugitive Poets, from I'll Take My Stand or other selections
Flannery O'Connor, select stories

Mathematics

The goal of the mathematics program at The Summit is to have students arrive at a place of proficiency in both the theoretical understanding and the practical application of mathematics. Students are equipped to engage mathematics as a tool for understanding other disciplines that builds from a fundamental comprehension of the substance and structure of arithmetic and quantity.

Math offerings at The Summit begin with Algebra I. To ensure that students maintain a strong Algebraic core competency even while they focus on gaining access to the benefits of demonstration that are obtained in Euclidian Geometry The Summit requires all geometry students to enroll in the Algebra Lab which is a half credit course. In the following years students will complete Algebra II. Upon completion of the Algebra II students should have a solid ability to compute mathematical expressions that include one or more variables. They will solve linear and quadratic equations, as well as systems of linear equations. Students will also multiply polynomials, factor quadratic polynomials, learn to work with fractions made up of polynomials, and to solve fractional equations. They are also introduced to equations involving square roots and to use radicals to solve equations. Students will learn to work the real-number line and the coordinate place. They will graph numbers and equations, both linear and quadratic. They will learn to work their way around the triangle of equation, graph and slope. Students will also learn to find solutions graphically. Students will be introduced to higher degree polynomials and rational functions. They will learn how transformations of a function alter the corresponding graph of the function. Exponential and logarithmic functions are presented at the end the second semester.

In Geometry our immediate objective is to explore the subject matter of continuous quantity.  Euclid's proofs teach students to make and present a clear scientific argument that can demonstrate, (or disprove), some of the fundamental propositions of planar geometry, culminating with the Pythagorean Theorem.

Pre-Calculus students begin the course by returning to the study of the number line, and expand this study beyond to the complex plane. The class will cover the geometric theory upon which trigonometry is based and from that develop our only table of trigonometric values for all the trig functions, and learn to establish and use the formulae of trig identities. Special attention is given to the ratio pi (π) and deriving its decimal approximation. In doing so, students derive the familiar equations for arc lengths and sector areas of the circle, and the surfaces and volumes of spheres, cylinders, and cones. Analytic geometry is also studied, first as a basis for the algebraic development of conic sections and then as an aid in the development of complex number theory.

Topics in advanced arithmetic will be studied, beginning with simple theorems of even, odd, composite and prime numbers, and advancing into proofs of combinations and permutations. These will continue into Pascal’s Triangle, the Fibonacci series, and the binomial expansion theorem, and culminate into some of the theorems of arithmetic that are useful for the development of the Calculus.

The course concludes with a study of the principles of Calculus, the derivative and the integral so that students that continue in the Calculus will have a firm foundation upon which to build.

Science

Students begin their high school studies at The Summit with the Introduction to Natural Science. The course coincides with the Origins track and establishes a foundation for further studies. While maintaining the integrity of each discipline, students get a sense of way in which science, philosophy and history are in dialogue with one another. In this manner they come to understand natural science and the inquiry that it pursues as a particularly human endeavor. Nature is the fundamental object of study and students will come to an understanding of what are the principles of nature, and how scientists come to understand this truth. Therefore, this class will become the foundation for all the other science classes that the student studies. It will also help integrate the understanding of nature into the larger pursuit of classical education -- truth, goodness, and beauty. The practical component of the course consists in learning to observe nature in the various sub-categories, (astronomy, geology, biology, etc.) as well as the patterns of their motion, particularly within the study of astronomy. The second component of the course consists of studying the theories of the original natural scientists from the pre-Socratics to the Copernican Revolution.

In Chemistry with Lab students will continue in their understanding of how scientific theory develops through the application of mathematical models to organize carefully made observations in an experimental setting, how that model is tested through additional observations, and by exposing the student to such observations. The immediate objective is to explore the subject matter of chemistry, which is secondary matter as subject to alteration, corruption, and generation. The course will begin with a review of the general principles of natural change discovered in the Introduction to Nature course. Through demonstration and application in lectures and laboratory experiments the class progresses through medieval theories of alchemy, revisions to that theory made in the Renaissance, the Phlogiston Theory which began chemistry proper, the refutation of that theory and replacement made by Lavoissier’s theory of oxidation, and the return to the Greek theory of atoms with the refinements of Dalton. The class will demonstrate the refutation of Aristotle’s table of the elements, later replaced through the work of numerous chemists with a new table of elements, culminating in Mendelev’s Periodic Table. Students will discuss the eventual refutation of Dalton’s Atomic Theory by Lord Rutherford, and the development of quantum chemistry. Students will be guided through the methodologies for writing experimental lab reports.

Biology with Lab should provide students with a solid foundation for further studies in life sciences in college while also grounding them in the major unifying themes of biology that will serve them well regardless of future course work. The course will cover cell theory, Mendel's genetics and the theory of evolution and take an inductive approach to the study of kingdoms. Students will work through cell structures and functions, photosynthesis, respiration, reproduction, protein synthesis, ecosystems, plant life, and a section on anatomy and physiology to include circulation and respiration, immune systems, digestive and reproductive systems.

Students will read an assortment of supplementary texts including Francis Crick's papers on his discovery of the DNA Double Helix, selections from William Harvey's Motion of the Heart and Circulation of Blood and Animal Generation. Harvey's work is important in upholding the importance of observation while maintaining the appropriate distinctions in Aristotle's Nature and simultaneously rejecting the false distinctions of earlier theories, (such as pre-modern embryology as one example).  Henri Fabre's work will also reinforce the value of close and careful observation in science. Students learn to make the distinction that the proper ordering principle biology studies is not life qua operation or mechanism but life qua living organism.

In the senior year, students will be enrolled in an advanced science in either Microbiology or Physics.

 

Languages

4 Year Language Requirement, (3 of which must be Latin)

Classical Languages

Classical languages (and specifically Latin) are a central component of the classical learning. Latin gives the student a mastery of academic vocabulary and builds skills and confidence that will readily translate across multiple disciplines.

Latin studies have long been a normative aspect of a quality education. One of the chief reasons contemporary students struggle in advanced high school and college subjects is the unfamiliar and complex vocabulary. Most multi-syllabic English words are derived from Latin. A mastery of Latin therefore enables students to more easily understand the more technical academic vocabulary of both the sciences and the humanities. In addition, knowledge of Latin and its grammatical structure informs students towards a more mature grasp of English grammar as well as other Latin-based languages. The highly structured nature of Latin grammar brings order into an otherwise fluid and unmethodical subject. Latin grammar is both more complex than English and less imprecise, enabling the student to learn the two fundamental thinking skills, analysis and synthesis, in a much cleaner and less frustrating way.

  • In Latin I students will receive an introduction to the basic grammar and syntax of the Latin language as the begin to work towards mastery of basic Latin vocabulary and grammar.

  • Upon completion of Latin II students will achieve mastery of intermediate Latin vocabulary and grammar.

  • Latin III will have students working through the translation of original texts, relying heavily upon selections from Wheelock's Latin Reader. Students will also spend time working through exercises of prose composition.

  • In Latin IV students will return to Virgil's Aeneid. They will spend the course working through the text in the original language with the aid of vocabulary lists, grammar notes and various commentaries.

Greek is offered as an elective and may also be selected to fulfill the fourth year language requirement. Students are enlightened by the similarities between Latin and Greek grammar, and are surprised to learn about the large number of Greek roots in both English and Latin.

  • Greek I students will learn to translate, read and write Attic Greek. The class teaches the basic morphology, lexicon, and syntax of Attic Greek with short phrases of translation.

  • In Greek II students continue to build on the foundations of the prior and delve deeper into more translation of original texts.

Modern Languages

The Summit is currently matriculating students into its third year. All students are currently fulfilling the classical languages requirement. In future years The Summit will introduce modern language into the curriculum.

Electives

Our program is designed to ensure that all students receive an introduction to a variety of electives. As students matriculate they will have the opportunity to pursue specific areas for developing higher levels of mastery.

Freshmen will begin with a half credit each of Art, Drama, Logic and Speech/Debate.

In the sophomore and junior year, students will select from two of tracks courses for further advanced studies and practice.

Additionally, many students will opt to include a second language (in addition to the Latin requirement) as an elective course of study.

In their final year at The Summit, students will be responsible for a senior thesis as part of their graduation requirement. Upon completion, students will demonstrate an ability to research, present and defend a project. Students will work with a faculty advisor to develop their topic and then deliver a final position. The outcome will be a major paper (15-20 pages) and oral presentation that they will defend under peer and faculty examination.