Academic Departments

English at Ascension Academy

Since the intent of Ascension Academy is to be the premiere college preparatory education in Amarillo, our middle school program begins this process towards excellencein language arts.  We immerse our sixth graders in a two-class English program, helping them build a solid foundation in both reading and language arts.  Teachers introduce all genres of literature to develop an appreciation and enjoyment of reading, enhancing critical thinking skills through discussion and close reading. Mastering the core elements of grammar improves student writing in preparation for the high school curriculum, as well as for Advanced Placement, SAT, and ACT tests. Such writing includes incorporating embedded quotations from fiction and non-fiction sources. 

Our department stresses the MLA format as appropriate for each level. Furthermore, emphasizing words in context, along with Greek and Latin roots, builds the vocabulary necessary for success in upper-level courses. Our basic guide for integrating reading, composition, and grammar skills continues to be “Laying the Foundation,” a series of integrated objectives. All teachers have attended seminars given by College Board representatives.

Our high school English program begins the journey to linguistic excellence encouraged by AP guidelines. Pre-AP 9 and 10 have daily drill in advanced vocabulary, as well as emphasis on the manipulation of phrases, clauses, and other stylistic techniques. Literary  research papers combine primary and secondary sources with embedded quotations and citations. Teachers present a wide range of World Literature, both classical and modern. Continued use of “Laying the Foundations,” integrates the linguistic and literary elements smoothly. AP English 3 offers students not only an overview of significant American literary works, but also emphasizes the study of the art of rhetoric. 

To that end, students will be working towards an understanding of how to analyze and craft well-developed, well-supported and persuasive arguments in their own writing. Writing assignments and projects will be varied and will enable students to develop proficiency inthe narrative, expository, argumentative, and persuasive modes. Reading will include essays, novels, short stories, poetry, and personal narratives. Seniors in AP English 4 have experiences in both British and European literature. The teacher encourages analysis through journals and creative projects. The curriculum also includes student essays, bothprocess and timed. Research will center around the argumentative essay and the literary essay. A daily study of allusions continues to expand the critical reading process. Review of rhetorical techniques encourages success on the two English AP exams.

Foreign Language at Ascension Academy

The study of varied languages and cultures is a vital part of Ascension Academy’s mission to provide a comprehensive and rigorous education for its students.   As the 16th century English humanist and educator Roger Ascham observed, “As a hawk flieth not high with one wing, even so a man reacheth not to excellence with one tongue.”

Ascension seeks to expand the intellectual horizons of its students by offering a variety of opportunities to acquire the essential skills of oral and written communication in a foreign language. Currently, incoming 6th grade students are required to take two years of Latin (Latin 1/2A and 1/2B) as a foundation for their explorations. Students may then choose to continue their study of Latin and/or move into the study of Spanish. In either language, Ascension students may extend their studies of the language, literature, and culture into the Advanced Placement level.

Social Studies at Ascension Academy

Ascension Academy offers college prep social studies with the intention of opening up a window to the world for our students. Sixth graders begin by looking at the world at large in an interesting and helpful examination of the major features that go into understanding geography, then apply what they’ve learned in the second semester with a look at Texas history. The seventh graders will take a basic look at American history, and move on to world civilizations as eighth graders. World history will come in two parts - ancient timesthrough the Renaissance in grade 8, and in grade 9 - the modern world of the last 4 centuries. It is our intention to study the geography of the world in greater depth plus the politics, religions, and general cultures found in the world.

The next two years are reserved for advanced placement courses in American history. The sophomore year will get a look at the origins of the United States through the Civil War. The juniors will study modern America from that time. Again this study will include geography as well as a variety of different looks at the complexities of American history. Finally the seniors will take American government in the first semester and economics in the second semester.

Mathematics at Ascension Academy

The mathematics department at Ascension Academy is dedicated to helping students build a strong foundation in the concepts and skills necessary to be successful in both pure and applied mathematics. Students are challenged to think and work independently as well as collaboratively with fellow classmates.

Middle school students strengthen their basic computation skills and begin to create a foundation based on numeric and algebraic operations and number theory. They are introduced to functions and various graphing techniques. High school students continue function manipulations and learn to solve higher order functions. The rigor of our mathematics program gives students the ability to handle the calculations needed in college prep courses in chemistry and physics.  Those wanting to stretch themselves even further may elect to join the Math counts class, embers of which prepare for this rigorous and well-respected nationally recognized competition.

The ultimate goal of the mathematics department is to offer a curriculum that enables students the ability to work successfully in upper level pre-AP and AP level courses. Students also have the opportunity to qualify for Dual-credit courses through Amarillo College, thus earning valuable credits recognized in many Texas colleges and universities.

Science at Ascension Academy

The study of life through the methods and discoveries of science helps students develop an informed view of the mechanisms that govern the natural world and the processes that continue to shape our universe. Science encourages students to develop their powers of observation while challenging them to apply their best reasoning in analyzing the kind of data that leads to discovery and invention.

Middle school students move sequentially through earth science, then life science, and finally physical science. The classes are designed to challenge students and prepare them for more the detailed and rigorous high school science classes they will be required to take at Ascension, including participating in, and reporting on, laboratory experiments and hands-on-projects.

High School students are immersed into our pre-AP science curriculum that prepares them for both AP and Dual-credit courses in grades 11 and 12.   Students begin with biology in grade 9, followed by chemistry in grade 10, and physics in grade 11 leading up to their senior AP biology or DC life science courses.  Advanced students may elect to double I science,  moving them further ahead in chemistry or physics that prepare them for optional AP examinations in those subject areas.  Laboratory experience is critical to student learning, and Ascension students enjoy double-period length labs in chemistry, physics and AP biology each week.  Students may elect to participate in the Department of Energy Science Bowl competition.  Both middle and high school teams prepare through the year for the regional tournaments that qualify winning teams for national competition.

Religion at Ascension Academy

Ascension Academy’s mission directs the school to create “a safe, nurturing, faith-affirming environment” for young people to learn and grow.   From its origins the school has made it a priority to foster a school culture where students may deepen their faith while learning to respect and appreciate people of faiths different from their own. How does this school do this?

Ascension requires all students to select from one of three specific religious tracks for classroom instruction in Catholicism, Protestantism, or Global Religions. These are offered at both the middle and high school levels, with age-appropriate lessons in all three tracks. Religion classes meet three days each week with teachers from those respective traditions guiding students to a deeper understanding of their faith, with emphasis on mastery of religious content and formation of a deeper spirituality.

Chapels supplement the classroom by reinforcing faith through the monthly celebration of the mass at St. Hyacinth Church (for our Catholic students) and assemblies for both Protestant and global religion classes.   At least once each month Dr. Summerhill leads the middle and high school in interfaith chapels focusing on how the transcendent intersects with the everyday issues of our lives. An underlying question put to students in these chapels is, “how can we live together in a community where respect and justice prevail?”  The school as a whole comes together for special, worshipful gatherings that underscore those bonds of faith and friendship that are so important to the well-being of the larger global family.  A number of these highlight meaningful moments in the school year, such as opening Convocation, Grandparents’ Day, Veterans’ Day, Christmas, and Baccalaureate.

Through its religion curriculum Ascension Academy has created a rather unique blend of the particular with the ecumenical with the overall goal of helping students deepen their faith while finding that common ground necessary to live in an increasingly diverse human population. Ascension graduates gain a real-life experience in discovering how respect and understanding offer the best hope for the future of the human race.

Technology at Ascension Academy

Twenty-first century children have lived their entire lives in a technological universe. Their familiarity with computers, ipods, cell phones and the myriad programs and applications that come with these devices is second nature to them. Yet while young people can surf and tweet and text and play games, they do not always understand how to use their technological tools to write, do research, and make presentations.Ascension students in the formative middle school years are taught how to use those programs that will be essential in their academic work. Keyboarding, word processing, internet navigation, power point, data bases and spreadsheets: these form the core of a curriculum that stresses both the what and how of effective and proper use of technology.  Students may also pursue more challenging and detailed applications of their technological learning in courses like Tech Apps and Robotics.

The school is equipped with two computer labs in addition to desktop computers for student use in the LRC.   A mobile cart makes MAC laptops available for classes and individuals benefiting from programs unique to those platforms.  The Gale Online library is accessible to all students via the internet through the school’s website, making available to them an extensive research library of primary and secondary sources.   The school also provides students and teachers with access to powerful online resources for college guidance (Naviance), classroom (MAPS 101) and via a growing number of licenses for online textbooks.