OSNAS is a classical school. Until the past century, the classical school model was the dominant mode of education in Western civilization. Its methods produced the great thinkers of Greece and Rome, the transformational theologians of the Reformation, and the influential Founding Fathers of our country. Classical schools have several distinctives features. One of them is an emphasis on reading and reflecting on great books by great authors (i.e. the classics). Rather than trying to follow the latest educational fad or trend, we find value in reading and discussing the works of literature that have stood the test of time, produced great ideas, and impacted the world in significant ways. Just as in the time of the Renaissance when learning and culture soared, our desire is to go ad fontes (back to the original and best sources). Reading these works provide fertile ground for helping students grow in wisdom and virtue–the hallmarks of a classical education. Ultimately, the goal of a classical education is to foster a love for the things that are true, good and beautiful.
Classical schools pay special attention to the natural development of the child. Early on, students are like sponges who are capable of acquiring large amounts of new knowledge. It is important to take advantage of this time by providing them with a good amount of foundational information that they will memorize by way of songs, chants and repetition. This is called the Grammar Stage. As students progress into Middle School and High School, they start to become more argumentative and desire to know the “why” behind the way things are. At this stage, we focus on teaching students to think logically and critically so they can make sound arguments and defend their positions with evidence. Students are not taught what to think (information) as much as how to think (making solid arguments). This stage is called the Logic Stage. In the final stage, students become more concerned with how they present themselves. They begin to place more importance on communicating their ideas so they are well received by others. At this stage, we place an emphasis on the art of rhetoric and public speaking. For this reason, this stage is called the Rhetoric Stage. Taken together, we believe that this threefold way (or trivium) is an effective way to train children since it “goes with the grain” of their natural development and interests.
Classical schools recognize that all learning is connected. Rather than present the various subjects as if they were isolated entities, we attempt to integrate them as much as possible so that students have a more holistic view of the world. For instance, a student may read a book in one class (Literature) while paying attention to the surrounding events of the book in another class (History). This book will have a certain worldview that may or may not be Christian (Theology / Philosophy). The students will be trained to think cogently and critically about the message (Logic) and then present their own ideas in a winsome and effective manner (Rhetoric). In this way, students receive reinforcement in their learning and are better able to appreciate how ideas and events are connected.
Classical schools stress the importance of learning the classical languages that have given rise to our own language as well as other languages. At OSNAS, we teach Latin from Kindergarten to the eighth grade. Students who study Latin score higher on standardized tests than those who do not since Latin gives students a better understanding of English vocabulary (50% of the English language derives from Latin). It also helps them better understand language structure and grammar, facilitates the learning of other languages, develops perseverance, and teaches students to pay attention to detail.
The most fundamental characteristic of an OSNAS education is that every class is taught from a biblical standpoint. Since God is the creator of all things, it would be foolish to leave Him out. As Proverbs 1:9 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” OSNAS is not solely interested in starting class off with prayer and adding a Bible class to a day. Rather, we are committed to helping students see God’s order, complexity and beauty in every aspect of life.
Grades K-4 have traditional periods lasting around 40 minutes while grades 5-12 have a block schedule. In a block schedule, core classes (Bible, English, Math, History, Science and Foreign Language) meet on alternating days for a duration of 80 minutes. This provides students with a relaxed learning environment that is more conducive to the classical emphasis on deep thought and discussion. We want to go beyond the surface level so that students have the opportunity to appreciate and master their fields of study. This is a difficult task when students are rushed and stressed. In addition, the block schedule allows teachers to present a lesson in a variety of ways. This helps students with different learning styles to grasp important concepts.
Each elementary grade learns Math, English and History from their main teacher. For other subjects like Bible and STEM, students learn with a neighboring grade to give them a fresh dynamic and environment. The approach to learning Math is common sense (not Common Core). We use Singapore Math which has a proven track record of teaching students in an effective and straightforward way. As for Reading, our school places a strong emphasis on phonics. Phonics gives students a solid foundation for reading and decoding unfamiliar words which will help them later on. Most of our kindergarteners are reading books by the end of the year. Later on, students are taught the art of handwriting and cursive–a practice that has gone extinct in many other schools. All elementary students have “specials” each day. For these classes, students get to travel to different rooms to learn from specialized teachers in subjects like art, choir, computer and P.E. Each year, students have more opportunities to learn new things (see curriculum scope and sequence). In the 5th grade, students transition to a fully departmentalized schedule in which they travel to a new room for each subject. This helps younger students mature at a faster rate by teaching them responsibility, organization and adaptability.
The Fine Arts
As a classical school that acknowledges and appreciates the beauty of God’s creation, OSNAS provides students with opportunities to grow in art, drama and music. OSNAS has an accomplished art teacher whose work is on display in several European galleries. The students’ artwork is often placed on display throughout the hallways of the school. Students also have the opportunity to develop musically. Our choir director is the music director and conductor for Frankie Avalon. Under his leadership, students rose to a level that enabled them to perform at world-renowned Carnegie Hall. With respect to instruments, students receive instruction once a week from music teachers from Paul Effman Music. They are then able to showcase their talents at our annual Christmas and Spring Concerts. As for Drama, the school typically puts on one major production (often through Academy of Arts Ministries) along with several smaller skits or productions that are presented during Daily Prayer services.
OSNAS has a robust S.T.E.M. program (Science-Technology-Engineerin
Sport Training Class
Most parents who have a child interested in athletics have to pay for training sessions in addition to what may or may not be offered at school. At OSNAS, we are happy to offer students the opportunity to grow athletically apart from what takes place in P.E. classes or on after-school teams. This option is made available to students in grades 7-12.
OSNAS currently offers several Advanced Placement courses that can be taken for college credit. These classes are Calculus, Language and Composition, Literature and Composition, U.S. History, and U.S. Government. These courses are offered to highly motivated and diligent students who want to learn at a high level and get a head start on earning college credit during their time in high school.
At OSNAS, we understand that parents are the most important and influential factor in a child’s development. Because of this, we encourage parental involvement. Parents are informed on a regular basis through internet resources, conferences and open communication. This helps parents prepare their child for upcoming homework, exams and activities. Parents are also invited to take part in the PTC (Parent Teacher Connection) that plans student and family activities such as LEGO Night, Summer Swim in December, Child/Parent Valentine’s Day Dance, and more.
Field Trips and Extracurriculars
Alongside the learning that happens inside the classroom, students have the opportunity to go on field trips that provide them with memorable learning moments. Field trips to local and even out-of-state venues are offered each year (e.g. planetarium, Sight and Sound Theatre, Long Island beaches and farms, Suffolk County Legislature, The Metropolitan Museum, etc.) As for extracurriculars, students have the opportunity to take part in the annual Christmas and Spring Concerts. In addition, students in younger grades are invited to participate in the Our Savior Junior Basketball Training free of charge. Participants learn skills, develop teamwork, and play games that parents are able to attend. For more extracurriculars, see the OSNAS Clubs section.