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Kolbe Academy & Trinity Prep A Catholic School for Grades TK - 12

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Academics » High School Course Descriptions

High School Course Descriptions



In the freshman and sophomore years, students study the following courses in a two-year cycle:

  • Sacred Scripture—Utilizing the Didache series text Understanding the Scriptures from the Midwest Theological Forum and the Ignatius Bible, students learn about the various books of the Bible, the importance of Biblical events and the concept of covenant in the course of salvation history.  Students come to see the fruit born from the critical event of history, the Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • Sacramental Life—Using as a basis Fr. Laux’s classic Mass and the Sacraments and The Catechism of the Catholic Church, students learn about the doctrine and history of the Seven Sacraments, including the scriptural basis for the Sacraments, their institution by Christ, the essential requirements, etc.  In addition, students study Papal Encyclicals and documents such as Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Paenitentiam Agere, Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, and Mediator Dei, Ecclesia Dei, and Summorum Pontificum as well as the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium.  Students also intensively study both the texts and format of the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite.

In the junior and senior years, students study the following courses in a two-year cycle:

  • Apologetics—Using as a primary text Peter Kreeft’s Handbook of Catholic Apologetics, students learn the major arguments in support of primary Christian beliefs, especially key, distinctively Catholic doctrines.  Catholic answers to principal Protestant questions illustrate how Catholicism is the fullness of the Christian faith.
  • Morality— With the Didache series text Our Moral Life in Christ from Midwest Theological Forum as the primary text, students learn about complex theological concepts of the Catholic Faith dealing with morality, a critical area in our modern, secular world.  The text places particular emphasis on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Veritatis Splendor, thus providing the necessary formation necessary to live a moral life.  Additionally, students study Church documents such as the Vatican II document Dignitatis Humanae, and Papal Encyclicals Evangelium Vitae, Casti Connubii, Humanae Vitae, and Rerum Novarum.



In the freshman and sophomore years, students study the following courses in a two-year cycle:

  • Ancient Literature—Students read the great literary works of early Western Civilization, such as The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, Greek plays such as Antigone and Oedipus Rex, Platonic dialogues, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and more.  The purpose is to find the True, the Good, and the Beautiful that transcend time by studying the literature of those two great civilizations—Ancient Greece and Classical Rome—that became the cradle of Catholic Western Civilization.
  • Medieval Literature—In Medieval Literature, students transition from the Classical Period to the glory of Medieval Christendom and study the great works of the Medieval period, works greatly influenced by Catholic Western Civilization.  These include such works as Beowulf, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Dante’s Inferno, Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, and Paradise Lost.

In the junior and senior years, students study the following courses in a two-year cycle:

  • Modern European Literature—Transitioning from Medieval Europe into the post-Renaissance period, students study the great literary works of the period such as Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, Crime and Punishment, Brave New World, 1984, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.  Themes include the role of science in modern society, the increasing and intensely psychological inward focus of the modern era, and the different reactions of man to oppressive totalitarian regimes.
  • American Literature—Students read the great works of American Literature such as The Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a selection of works by Edgar Allan Poe, Grapes of Wrath, and Fahrenheit 451.  Themes include the contrast between societal and individual norms, the unfettered ambition of modern man, and the life of Americans in the era of the welfare state and increasing governmental power.



In the freshman and sophomore years, students study the following courses in a two-year cycle:

  • Ancient History—Students study the great historical works of Classical Western Civilization such as Herodotus’ Histories, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, Livy’s Early History of Rome, Plutarch’s Lives, and more, to discover the nature of the polis (the city-state of Ancient Greece), the basis of civil society, how war affects society, the rise, decline and fall of the Roman Republic, etc.
  • Medieval History—Medieval History is inseparably connected with the Catholic Church.  In this course, students discover this truth and how the Church saved and re-built Western Civilization by reading such works as Procopius’ The Gothic Wars, Gregory of Tours History of the Franks, Bede’s History of the English Church and People, Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne, Froissart’s Chronicles, and writings of Popes and Kings, with the textbook Medieval Europe—A Short History providing an overall framework.  Themes include the fusion of Germanic, Christian, and Roman traditions in the Early Middle Ages, the struggle between governmental and religious power in the High Middle Ages, and the emergence of the modern centralized nation-state beginning in the Late Middle Ages.

In the junior and senior years, students study the following courses in a two-year cycle:

  • Modern European History—With the textbook Sources of Modern Europe providing the background, students study the Post-Renaissance period of European history via original source materials such as Machiavelli’s The Prince, Rousseau’s The Social Contract, Locke’s Essay on Human Understanding and Second Treatise on Government, Newton’s Principia Mathematica, Marx’s Communist Manifesto, excerpts from Kant and Hegel, Lenin’s State and Revolution, Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, and various Church documents addressing many of the issues raised, e.g., Rerum Novarum and Humani Generis.  Primary themes include the division of Christianity, the increasing emphasis on the individual developed in Enlightenment philosophy, the consequences of the French Revolution as seen in the 19th century, the emergence of Nazi and Communist regimes in the 20th century, the two World Wars, the rise of modern liberal democracy, and the current status of the European Union.
  • American History—In this course, the great themes of American History are studied—the nature and character of America’s first settlers, the ideas and principles of America’s founding fathers, the causes and consequences of the Civil War, the rise of progressivism in both foreign and domestic spheres, and the welfare state and increasing American interventionism in foreign affairs.  Students read America—A Brief Narrative History, plus copious original source material such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, The Federalist Papers, Washington’s Farewell Address, Jefferson’s Inaugural Address, writings and speeches of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.


Foreign Language

In the freshman and sophomore years, students study Latin with Wheelock’s Latin.  In the junior and senior years, students study Spanish using Ya Veras Gold.



Grade-level Math, generally Algebra 1 in 9th Grade, Geometry in 10th, and Algebra 2 in 11th, all from McDougal Littell, and Pre-Calculus from Houghton Mifflin in 12th; in almost every year, some advanced students take Calculus from Wiley Higher Education



In the freshman and sophomore years, students study the following courses in a two-year cycle:

  • Physical Science—Holt
  • Biology—Holt

In the junior and senior years, students study the following courses in a two-year cycle:

  • Chemistry—Holt
  • Physics—Holt



The seminar program takes place once per week and is intended to study a seminal work that corresponds to the history and literature studied during that year.  In the seminar, students learn to reason and communicate in a structured, Socratic setting similar to that proposed by Mortimer Adler.

In the freshman and sophomore years, students study the following courses in a two-year cycle:

  • Plato’s Republic—corresponding to the Ancient year
  • St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica—corresponding to the Medieval year

In the junior and senior years, students study the following courses in a two-year cycle:

  • Machiavelli’s The Prince and Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and The Social Contract—corresponding to the Modern European year
  • Tocqueville’s Democracy in America— corresponding to the American year



Students in Grades 5-12 engage in a formal public speaking program once per week known as Forum.  In Forum class, students deliver papers, practice addressing impromptu topics, deliver cold readings, etc., all with the intent of building the ability to be articulate defenders of Christ in the world.  Students are instructed in such elements as volume, eye contact, hand gestures, and “presence”.  After presenting, students field questions from their peers and teachers, learning to repeat the question and provide thoughtful, on-point answers.  Audience members, for their part, learn to ask pertinent and ideally insightful questions.  Finally, audience members are called upon to provide charitable constructive criticism to speakers, who learn to accept such criticism gracefully.


In each year of high school, students participate in a once per week, double-period elective class.

  • Intensive Composition—All freshmen (and other high school students as necessary), participate in Intensive Composition.  The purpose of this class is to ensure that students have a jump start on the writing skills necessary for success in high school, college, and beyond.  Students are instructed in the mechanics and structure of writing for academic purposes, including the components of an essay, proper sentence structure and syntax, grammatical rules, etc.
  • Art—Students are instructed in basic and advanced artistic techniques, from the rudiments of drawing to shading to coloring.  They learn to observe and draw with attention to detail and expressive line.  Subjects include still-life objects, self-portraits, landscapes, animals, etc.
  • Choir—In Choir, students learn the basics of vocal performance with an emphasis on choral music in the liturgy. Students will be exposed to and required to learn Gregorian chant and traditional vernacular hymns suitable to the Sacrifice of the Mass and consonant with the liturgical year.
  • Drama—This course consists of both acting and production elements.  Students will study both acting terminology and techniques and the staging—sets, props, lighting, sound, and costuming—of a production.  Each spring, the students perform a play on our outdoor stage.