Frequently Asked Questions
The following FAQ's are answers to questions that we have received over the years. We hope that this will be a helpful resource for your family as you seek to learn more about our school.
Is STMA only for exceptionally bright students?
We believe that STMA forms exceptionally bright students, but every year our incoming class averages on the ISEE placement test are just below the national mean.
How much homework is assigned?
Several years ago, STMA moved to an intentionally lower homework model. We have worked hard to eliminate "busy work" assignments outside of class. In some classes there will be no homework. In others, there will be very limited work assigned outside of class. All students have built in silent work periods during the school day. Reading assignments are not considered as homework. Reading and writing assignments, by nature, occur outside of class and vary in length dependent upon individual student motivation to complete the assigned book. Some students may spend more time on reading than others, causing longer periods of work at home.
Do you offer AP or International or Baccalaureate Classes?
Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes do not fit well with our classical liberal arts curriculum. These programs are usually taught from a textbook and to a test, neither of which follow our approach of formation of deep and critical thought on important subjects.
Classes at STMA offer honors sections, which allow students to dive deeper into subjects of interest.
How do you handle math placement?
By our nature, we are conservative about math placement. We believe students should possess mastery of math skills before advancing to higher maths.
Freshmen complete a math placement test during the first week of school to properly assess math placement.
Does STMA have a STEM program?
STMA focuses on the whole person, not particular parts. Specialization in education for children has been shown time and again to be problematic. This said, we do offer outstanding core and elective classes in science, technology, engineering, and math. In fact, taking elective offerings into consideration, students at STMA have perhaps more opportunities for STEM classes than at any other high school. After graduation, the majority of our alumni successfully pursue degrees in STEM fields and do extremely well in their college and university classes.
Do you provide IEPs or make accommodations for learning disabilities?
STMA does not provide Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for students. At our tuition level, we are unable to make curriculum accommodations for learning disabilities.
Do you allow extended time for tests?
No, we do not allow extra time for tests. Our experience has been that students learn to complete tests in the allotted time. This is beneficial preparation for college and careers beyond.
Do you provide tutoring?
We do not provide school administered tutoring. Teachers may provide additional support to students who request assistance. Upon teacher suggestion, peers who excel in specific subjects may offer tutoring assistance, but it is the student's responsibility to follow-up on the suggestions, demonstrate self-reliance, and seek out time before school, during lunch, or after school to obtain tutoring help from peers.
Classroom disruption has become an issue in many schools. Is it a problem at STMA?
We prize classrooms ordered to learning and enjoy the blessing of classes with students that are working hard to remain positively engaged in the material at hand. For this reason, we cannot and do not tolerate classroom disruption.
Are students allowed to bring personal computers, tablets, or smartphones to class?
Aside from graphing calculators for math classes, we do not allow any personal technology to be used by students during the school day. Phones may be left, turned off, inside student lockers. This is not an anti-technology policy. We understand the important role technology plays in our lives today, as well as in the modern economy. In fact, students are expected to use technology to communicate with their teachers, as teachers will often email students (in addition to parents) regarding class assignments, quizzes, and tests.
STMA has a dedicated technology center that students may utilize before school, during lunch, and after school to work on papers and projects and to communicate with their teachers via email, as needed.
How many days of school are students allowed to miss a year?
STMA does not describe absences as excused or unexcused. Students may miss up to ten (10) full school days in an academic year at family discretion. STMA offers each student an emergency absence reserve for potential use over his or her full time of enrollment. The reserve is four (4) days for grade 9 and pro-rated for continuing (and transferring) students at three (3) days for grade 10; two (2) days for grade 11; and one (1) day for grade 12. If a student exceeds the annual allowance, he or she may access the reserve in whole or part. The reserve cannot be replenished.
Does STMA have Prom or other school dances?
STMA does not have Prom, per se, but we do have a formal dance in the spring called The Chancellor's Ball. Our juniors and seniors prepare for this by learning social forms of dance every week during the year, which they demonstrate with their partners and other peers during the Chancellor's Ball. We also offer other dances throughout each school year, which are organized by our Student Council and Parent Student Organization.
Do you have PE classes?
Given the restraints of our core curriculum and schedule, we are unable to offer Physical Education classes at this time. Occasionally, there may be options in the form of electives. We do, however, participate in school-wide walks around our campus during morning break three days a week; we also enjoy long lunch periods when students are encouraged to go outside and be physically active. We often see students enjoying a game of frisbee or corn-hole during the lunch period, as well as after school during the carpool period. Upperclassmen take social dance classes every week (in preparation for the Chancellor's Ball in the spring); and once a month, there are swing dances during lunch. Additionally, more than half of our student body participates in sports and we offer a strength and fitness club after school to all faculty and students.
Does STMA offer band classes?
Unfortunately, we do not, but there are many opportunities throughout the year for students with instrumental gifts and talents to share them with the school community.
Are seniors allowed off-campus for lunch?
We do not allow students to leave campus for lunch. There are a number of reasons for this decision, the main one being that we want our seniors to remain on campus to interact with the rest of the school community. Additionally, a number of our clubs and activities occur during lunch. We often schedule food trucks on campus during lunch and provide feast day lunches to students throughout the year.
Do you require service hours?
We do not require service hours, but we do require students to go on service trips with classmates each of their four years at the Academy.
Do Theology classes at STMA count for confirmation classes?
STMA Theology classes do not count as confirmation classes in the Diocese of Raleigh.
Is Confession available at school?
Opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation are often made available during lunch following the weekly Mass. This is dependent upon the individual priest's schedule.
We've heard that some students who do well in middle school have struggled at STMA. Is this true and why?
Stress would need to be placed on the word "some", but yes, it is true. It would be impossible for us to explain this definitively, but what we know is that sometimes middle school grades do not match entrance exam scores. For example, a student receives an "A" in 8th grade Algebra I, but fails, by a wide margin, the Algebra section of our placement test - as well as our Math Department Placement Test. Again, it is nearly impossible for us to explain this discrepancy, but it suggests large gaps in content delivery and mastery.
STMA has announced the intention of expanding to include 6th grade in the fall of 2020. Grades 7th and 8th will be added in 2021 and 2022 respectively. This will serve to address the issue of lack of proper preparation for a large majority of students eventually entering 9th grade at our school.
Is STMA a good school for boys?
This is one of the most unusual questions we have received in recent years and the answer is an unequivocal YES if the hoped for outcome is well educated, virtuous, young men of God. In our nearly two decades of Catholic liberal arts education serving Raleigh, NC, STMA has graduated many of the finest young men we know and are proud to call alumni of the Academy. We are especially proud of Fr. John Kane and Fr. Michael Schuetz, STMA graduates and priests of the Diocese of Raleigh, as well as Diocesan Seminarians John DeGuzman, Robert Lane, and Kolbe Flood. Additionally, Brother Leo Dornan of the Oblates of St. Philip Neri is an alum. Given so many priestly and religious vocations in such a short time from our relatively small school, it would stand to reason, at least from this standpoint, that STMA is indeed a wonderful school for boys to grow and learn to discern the will of God in their lives.