Frequently Asked Questions
- Where does your name, Aquinas Academy, come from?
Our patron saint is St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), one of the great philosophers of the Western world and the most influential theologian and teacher of the Catholic faith. A man who combined great learning with personal holiness, Thomas embodies the vision and goals of Aquinas Academy.
The Aquinas motto, Contemplata aliis tradere, simply translated, means to hand on to others the fruits of contemplation. That is what we are striving for — to form intelligent and prayerful young people who have a passion for learning and a desire to use what they have learned to serve God and their neighbors.
- What is your relationship with the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh?
Aquinas Academy is a private Catholic academy, faithful to the Bishop of Pittsburgh, Most Reverend David A. Zubik, and loyal to the teaching authority of the Church. Our religion curriculum is designed in conformity with the Bishop’s standards for religious education. Our families are members of many parishes throughout the diocese of Pittsburgh.
- What are your class sizes?
We have one of the area’s smallest student-to-faculty ratios. We strive to keep our maximum class size in the low twenties.
- Does Aquinas conduct standardized tests?
Yes. We administer the Iowa Test of Basic Skills for Grades 1-8 and the Test of Achievement and Proficiency in Grade 9. High School students take both the PSAT and SAT exams, along with various AP (Advanced Placement) tests.
- Are students required to wear uniforms?
Yes. Our uniform varies according to lower, middle, or high school, as designated in the Aquinas Academy Dress Code.
- Do you teach foreign languages?
Yes. All students take Latin, beginning in Grade 6. In addition to the continued study of Latin, high school students also learn French or Spanish. Elementary students are introduced to Latin (K - 1st), Spanish (2nd - 3rd), and French (4th - 5th). Eighth grade students take a mini-course of both French and Spanish in order to help them choose their modern language in high school. Greek is also offered as a high school elective.
- Can my child take a bus to Aquinas?
Yes. Aquinas students are eligible to ride public school buses from their respective school districts that are within a ten mile radius of the school. For a list of districts currently busing to Aquinas Academy, view our location page.
- How long is the school day?
School begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 3:12 p.m.
- Does Aquinas have sports teams?
Yes. We have competitive teams for boys and girls in basketball, cross-country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, track & field, and soccer. Students compete in the Pittsburgh Diocesan League, and the Western Pennsylvania Interschool Athletic League (WPIAL), among others.
Aquinas students participate in other WPIAL sports such as swimming as independent athletes. High school students have additional opportunities for football, girls’ soccer, and high school cross country in a co-op with another school. Students can also participate on a fencing team.
We also offer a variety of intramural sports, including developmental soccer and ultimate Frisbee. In the winter, many students and families participate in the Aquinas ski club.
- What kind of enrichment activities do you offer?
We offer art, music and physical education classes as part of our regular curriculum. We also have a school band and choir. Our students perform an annual drama production at both the middle and high school levels. We also have a variety of student publications, including a school newspaper, literary magazine and yearbook. More information about extracurriculars is available in the Student Life tab.
- What is the role of religion at Aquinas Academy?
Aquinas has a deep commitment to providing a fully Catholic learning environment.
The school day begins and ends with prayer. Mass is celebrated on campus 4 days a week. Grades 1-7 attend daily; students in grades 8-12 have the freedom to attend Mass or silent study hall. Students, faculty and parents regularly have the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Religion is a core subject in our curriculum. Aquinas also prepares students to make their first Reconciliation, receive first Holy Communion, and be Confirmed in their home parishes.
- Can my child attend Aquinas even if our family is not Catholic?
Yes. Our admissions policy does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, disability or religion.
All prospective students and their parents should understand that Catholic beliefs and doctrines, as well as Catholic prayer and worship, comprise the cornerstone of Aquinas Academy’s mission and identity.
Religion is taught as a required subject in all grades. Attendance at daily Mass is required for all students in Grades 1-7. Non-Catholic students, of course, would not be expected or permitted to partake in Holy Communion. All of these issues are discussed with prospective students and their parents during the course of our ordinary admissions process.
- What opportunities are there for parents to become involved in the school?
We believe parents are the primary educators of their children. Parental involvement is crucial to the identity and mission of Aquinas. The Aquinas Academy Parents’ Association coordinates an array of volunteer programs and other opportunities for parents to support and make a difference in the life of the school.
- Do students perform community service?
Community service is an important part of the formation of students at Aquinas Academy. Specific charitable projects are arranged in collaboration with students, faculty and parents.
- When are your deadlines for admission applications?
Students may be admitted at any time during the year. But with our small class sizes, classes fill up quickly. We recommend that you apply for Fall admission as early in the calendar year as possible. For example, if you would like to enroll your child to begin classes in September 2017, it would be wise to begin the application process in January or February 2017. Financial aid deadlines are in March.