An academy that formed when two private schools became one in 2013 is settling into its new traditions as the fall semester approaches.
Aug. 20 marks the start of the second school year for the Academy of Classical Christian Studies — a merger between the former Providence Hall school and Veritas Classical Academy.
The two have combined at the former campus of the Episcopal Trinity School, 1120 E Hefner Road. The academy also has southside satellite campuses in Moore: one at First Baptist Church, 301 NE 27, for pre-K to fifth grade, and the other at The Rock Assembly, 12500 S Pennsylvania, for grades six to 12. The school is planning additional campuses in the future.
Boards of the two schools, both founded in 2004, had similar educational philosophies and decided in 2012 to join forces.
The 2013-2014 school year, the newly merged academy’s first, “was like building a plane while you were flying it,” said Craig Dunham, the academy’s head of school.
Providence Hall had already established itself at the former Trinity School campus, while Veritas was more “nomadic” — leasing space as it became available, Dunham said.
The merger met with mixed reactions from parents and students — some were “super-excited,” Craig said, but 20 to 30 students left because their parents thought there was too much up in the air.
The new academy, with an enrollment of 460 and about 70 teachers, has started to build some traditions: a mascot (the Griffin, a mythical half-eagle, half-lion, symbolic of Christ’s divine and human natures), a uniform and a system of “houses,” not unlike the houses at Harry Potter’s fictitious Hogwarts School (minus the wizards and magic wands).
About a quarter of the students attend classes on a traditional five-day schedule, while the remainder are on a “blended” schedule, which combines study at home and classes on campus.
Class sizes are small — 16 students or fewer. Dunham tells students they will have the opportunity to work closely with their teachers.
According to its website, the school’s curriculum relies on techniques developed during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to teach literature, theology, philosophy, science and history.
The school has five emphases: liberal arts, the Great Books, Latin and Greek classical languages, classical conservatory art “in the tradition of the greats” and classical music, said Nathan Carr, the school’s provost, who is also an Episcopal priest.
The Bible is “integrated into everything we’re studying,” Dunham said. The school is not affiliated with a specific religious denomination.
The students attend chapel once a week. There are “matins,” morning prayers, every day. Students end the school day with “evensong,” the singing of ancient hymns, meditative thought and prayer.
Rather than segregating the students by age, they are divided into separate “houses” named for church fathers of the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries, such as St. Augustine, St. Jerome and St. Francis, Carr said.
Members of the houses eat, pray and hold meetings together.
“The older students take responsibility for the younger kids,” Craig said.
In kindergarten, students are reading simple books. By the end of high school, students will have read 100 major classics, Carr said. The school offers two classes, Western Civilization and Logic, which will allow students to earn transferable college credits through Houston Baptist University.
It’s not all about college prep at the academy, Dunham said. The school views itself instead as “Kingdom-preparatory.”
To learn more
For more information about Academy of Classical Christian Studies, go online to www.theacademyok.org.