A faith-based education is enduring. Learners foster reverence for God and the human person; respect for learning and order; and responsibility for the shared experience of living in communities. These institutions offer carefully crafted curricula that are built around a traditional biblical understanding of the world and human nature, and pupils learn in a nurturing environment in which they feel safe and happy. Decades later, many graduates still share heartfelt testimonials of how their schools gave them an unimpeachable moral foundation.
That’s not to say these schools do not offer the same academic prep as their secular counterparts. College prep and counselling are just as rigorous. Students are equally encouraged to take part in outdoor education, team and individual sports, the performing arts, and in services to the community. Here are four institutions that represent the finest of faith-based education:
West Catholic High School
Providing a dynamic, excellence-driven Catholic education, West Catholic High School (WCHS) is where international students flourish academically, learn effectively and feel welcomed. Ultimately, they progress to and thrive in American universities and life.
At WCHS, learning is challenging, exciting and fun; students are instilled with a thirst for knowledge, an inquisitive spark and the skills for the next steps in their academic journeys. The school’s track record confirms this — more than 60% of students leave high school with college credits. Students earn college credits by taking some of the 19 Advanced Placement courses or the four on-campus courses offered for college credit. The Class of 2020 had 96% of its graduates attend college. Recent international graduates have attended Michigan State University, New York University, University of Connecticut, University of Michigan and University of Washington.
Their success began with WCHS’s personalised suite of offerings. Each WCHS student receives continuous academic support and individualised programmes catered to their needs. The WCHS’s International Programme is complemented by specialised courses, trips for cultural exchange and constant initiatives to better serve pupils.
Upon completion of WCHS’s International Programme, international students are assisted in the college application and admittance process to attend American universities. The college counsellor-to-student ratio here is 1:234 — compared to the national average of 1:482 — ensuring each student gets the attention they need.
At WCHS, there are numerous opportunities for students to enhance their learning experience and develop life-long leadership skills through the school’s arts, athletics and co-curricular activities. Sporting activities — such as cross country, equestrian, esports, football, skiing, wrestling, basketball, volleyball and more — are an integral part of education and growth at the school. While the school has an extensive focus on higher learning, it offers a plethora of performing arts and visual arts activities, such as music, choir and theatre performances. To learn more about WCHS’s top-tier high school education for international students, click here.
Norfolk Christian Schools
Caring teachers, exceptional academics, campuses in Travel + Leisure’s “Favourite American City” and award-winning programmes. These are the definitive features of Norfolk Christian Schools (NCS).
Founded in 1952, NCS is a private, coeducational Christian day school serving grades K3 through 12. NCS students are exposed to academic excellence, spiritual formation and Christian service — it’s a holistic journey that balances academic achievement with the development of character, resilience and leadership.
When it’s time to apply for college, each NCS student can showcase the powerful knowledge they have amassed to make sense of the world around them. A customised college counselling office then takes over, working individually with each student to define their strengths and accomplish their goals. It’s a successful strategy — recent graduates are attending 25 of US News & World Report’s Top 50 colleges with 90% of them being accepted to their first choice school.
It’s a feat made possible by NCS’s distinctive offerings. At this AP school, there are 14 AP classes — all led by an exceptional faculty, including a complete high school math package through AP Calculus BC. Award-winning programmes in the fine arts and a well-respected athletics programme complement this. Students can join numerous extra-curricular opportunities, advancing to state and conference championships and beyond. Participation in these activities stretches NCS pupils; it promotes a sense of social responsibility, enhances team spirit and engenders confidence.
NCS’s greatest asset, however, is its people. Teachers are not only invested in their students’ academic pursuits, but also their social-emotional health — acting as mentors and building robust relationships that go beyond the classroom. International students have a home away from home here too — they are welcomed into their “second families” and stay in homes with Norfolk Christian families, many of whom are staff ready to welcome them and provide the best high school experience. To learn more about how NCS equips students spiritually, intellectually and physically to love God and to serve Him as Christ’s Ambassadors in the world, click here.
Lancaster Christian Academy
Providing an excellent education in a Christian environment, the Lancaster Christian Academy is where students can thrive and succeed in a loving, safe, and fun atmosphere. Here, students pursue their goals and dreams in academic, athletic and artistic programmes.
Students are guided by passionate educators who are excited about their craft and energised by what they do every day. For pupils in kindergarten through eighth grade who want real-life experiences and hands-on learning at an accelerated pace, Lancaster’s Magnet Programme provides activities utilising technology with emphasis on the arts and kinetic movement.
The school offers a wide range of activities through clubs and societies. Sport has been central to the Lancaster Christian Academy curriculum for some time and pupils play for school teams and in-house competitions for teams including basketball, football, volleyball and so forth.
Lancaster Christian Academy’s mission is to make Jesus famous in the lives of our students by building intentional, Christ-centered relationships and fostering a safe environment where biblical standards of living are celebrated and meaningful learning takes place.
“While we certainly supersede and rank above the state educationally, our school blends the need for academic, social, emotional, mental, and spiritual development,” shares headmaster Kevin E. O’dea. “Our programme intentionally seeks out opportunities for students to grow holistically, and we find greater success in the realm of academics when students are thriving in all aspects of their development.”
LCA graduates leave as well-rounded and balanced human beings who understand the importance of kindness, service and humanity. They dream with their eyes wide open.
San Marcos Academy
At this co-ed school in beautiful Texas hill country, students follow a fully accredited college preparatory curriculum in a structured and safe environment. The entire K-12 journey here is safe, holistic and inspiring. The best part? It has 113 years’ worth of experience, offering students the finest in American education.
Here, students are engaged and inspired. This Christian boarding and day school’s curriculum is designed to lead them to success only in college, but in life as well. The “Teaching for Transformation” curricular model — a framework for students to learn about God’s story while discovering their place within it — ensures this. Such authentic and transformational learning experiences expose students of all grades to discipleship concepts such as worship, truth, justice, service and community — attributes that will serve them well long after they graduate.
These principles are embedded across all levels. They culminate in SMA’s Upper School programme for grades nine through 12, which preps students for the rigours of college-level work, while also instilling character. In addition to the academic courses are multiple co-curricular opportunities such as fine arts, athletics, recreation and community service.
Preparation is the main goal here. At SMA, the aim is always to develop well-rounded students who are physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally ready for the next steps of their lives.
Support is widely available. This is where students form lifelong friendships and are guided by well-trained personnel. The Academy offers two boarding options. The first is a traditional seven-day boarding programme. The second is a shorter five-day programme, designed for families residing within a 70-mile radius of the campus.
When students are on San Marcos Academy’s campus grounds, they benefit greatly from the nurturing, structured and comfortable environment that becomes their home away from home.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International