About Upper School
At Westminster, we emphasize a Socratic approach to education that requires students to consistently go beyond memorization and to enter into significant exploration of a text or concept through dialogue and discussion. Because of this interactive aspect of the classroom, Upper School is limited to 18 students per class.
What makes Upper School Unique?
The House System
“Four Houses, One Community”
Starting in 7th grade, the Upper School students at Westminster Academy are placed into one of four houses that they remain in until graduation. Each house has students from each Upper School grade, along with a 12th grade House Captain and a faculty representative. The houses—Athanasius, Becket, Boniface and Columba- were named after men who had a great impact and sacraficed their lives for the growth of the early church.
Houses are designed to separate students and faculty into smaller communities and to foster a better school culture by creating accountability, ownership, and leadership among students and faculty. Each house meets weekly to discuss house business and work on house activities. In addition to organizing intra-house events, such as games and projects, the houses collaborate to participate in inter-house events and competitions including upper school field days and various challenges.
The school year ends with a closing ceremony followed by a feast where the house cup is awarded to the house that has accumulated the most points over the course of the year.
The Protocol Course is an important aspect of the educational experience at Westminster, striving to teach upper school students established habits of etiquette for the purpose of demonstrating Christ-like respect and humility to fellow image-bearers. From 7th-12th grade, students learn the various skills for interaction in polite society; from note writing to formal event etiquette.
Throughout the year, each grade in the Upper School learns a particular set of skills and principles in a series of etiquette lessons. Topics include making introductions, meal etiquette, conversational skills, concert etiquette, and formal event etiquette. At the conclusion of the lessons, each grade demonstrates what they have learned at a special event, such as a Christmas tea, dinner at a local country club, or the Protocol Ball.
Preparing students beyond Westminster
Why don't we offer AP courses?
AP courses are designed to accomplish two things for high school students: 1) offer challenging, specialized content that adheres to national standardization and 2) give high school students a chance to earn college credit after taking a high school course. We have intentionally decided not to offer AP courses because offering them and teaching according to AP’s pre-set curriculum is not always consistent with our educational philosophy. However, our students are allowed to take AP exams, even if they have not completed the specific course. Our students normally choose to take some AP tests in their senior year, earning potential college credit or the ability to skip basic-level college classes. In 2014, 14 students took a total of 31 exams, with 100% of students scoring 3 or higher on at least one test.
Westminster Academy has always believed the responsibility for choosing and applying to college is the students. For this reason, the Director of College Guidance serves more as a pathway to information. The Director of College Guidance meets with all seniors and juniors to create their application files.
Westminster graduates have applied and been admitted to prestigious universities throughout the United States and abroad. Through the past five years over 20% of Westminster Seniors have received recognition by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation as National Merit Finalists or Commended Scholars.