School of Rhetoric

Your child comes to maturity. 

New Covenant offers the most distinctive high school experience in Central Virginia.

Grades 9 through 12

Unique among schools New Covenant maintains the most distinctive high school experience in the region.  We refer to grades 9-12 as the School of Rhetoric. In addition to teaching classical rhetoric, we emphasize primary sources and the “Great Books” including the Bible, Homer, Aristotle, Virgil, St. Augustine, Dante, and Shakespeare, just to name a few. Students who graduate from New Covenant have an awareness of the world’s greatest thinkers, and they have engaged their writings directly.  We use textbooks, of course, but there is an equal emphasis upon primary sources in history, literature, language, and, science,  religion and politics.  Our students do more than learn about the Constitution, Magna Carta, Council of Nicea, or the French Revolution – they read, study and discuss the documents that pertain to these events.  By the time students reach their junior year, many of them will be reading selected works in Latin or Greek. During the senior year, students will research, write, and orally present and defend to the faculty a significant thesis of a debatable or controversial nature.

The curriculum at New Covenant Schools is rooted in the liberal arts and is challenging at all levels. Ninety-six percent of our graduates have entered four-year colleges. Average standardized achievement test scores are consistently far above the national average with an overall SAT average range of 1210 – 1320  (Reading + Math).  Class sizes are small and there is a high level of personal attention to students. The faculty is well qualified, with more than half of the faculty holding the master’s degree. Classical languages are required for all students beginning in kindergarten. Formal instruction in logic and classical rhetoric is required in grades 9 through 12. Students are expected to use their acquired logic and rhetorical skills in all areas of the curriculum, to think deeply and defend their positions rationally when answering questions of science, government and ethics, as well as in discussions of history, literature and religion. The senior year is completed by researching, writing, and defending a senior thesis before the faculty. Since our course of study is guided by the classical tradition, we are very select in the Advanced Placement courses we offer. 

See the full academic profile here.
See the School of Rhetoric Course Catalogue here.

New Covenant Schools offers a classical, Christian education designed for the college bound student and fully accredited by SACS/CASI. About ninety six percent of New Covenant students  have been accepted to more than 120 leading colleges and universities, public and private, in Virginia and elsewhere. Since 1998, they have earned more than $1,000,000 in merit scholarships. Twenty three of our graduates have been named National Merit Scholar Finalists (9) or Commended Scholars (14). 

The guidance process begins in late middle school, or whenever a student transfers to the School of Rhetoric.  A four-year plan is developed with the student’s counselor and reviewed annually through graduation.  We also offer a college “bootcamp” in late summer as the seniors begin their final year, giving them step-by-step instruction on the college application process. 

See the full list of college, university and graduates school acceptances here.

Every rising freshman or transfer student is assigned to a “House.”  The house system is designed to foster meaningful friendships across the grades in a context of fellowship and comp

etition. There are four houses in the school that take their names from great centers of Christian faith:  Antioch, Alexandria, Canterbury and Wittenberg.  Students are assigned to the houses and are vertically integrated such that students in grades 9-12 are mixed for house meetings and projects.  The houses are responsible for such things as school dances, spirit days, house competitions, and leadership development.  The House Council, with representatives from each house, is the student government arm of the school.  Houses compete throughout the year on the basis of grades, athletics, participation in co-curricular activities and many other platforms.   The House of the Year is a coveted status and is awarded at Commencement each year.

Every senior at New Covenant finishes the high school career with the completion of a senior thesis.  The thesis project begins in the fall of the senior year when students choose a debatable topic, usually involving what we refer to as a “great question.”  The project is researched throughout the semester, with faculty advisors serving as “readers” to encourage and assist with topic choice, research, revision and editing. After several iterations the students submit a final draft which they present publicly on “Thesis Day.” For this event the entire SoR suspends the regular academic schedule and underclassmen attend presentations of their choosing. Each presentation is fifteen minutes long, followed by forty five minutes of questions by faculty readers. Time permitting, questions are also received from the audience. Parents are encouraged to attend the event, which is celebrated with food and fellowship between presentations. This is a capstone project that represents a unique and single achievement in the life of a New Covenant student.  Alumni routinely credit this program with “over” preparing them for college level reading and writing. 

New Covenant offers four opportunities for study abroad in the disciplines of science, literature, history and Christian service.  Destinations are offered on a rotating basis to Rome, Paris & London, the Caribbean and Nogales, MX.  Trips are offered each spring after students spend the fall in classes designed to prepare them for the sites they will encounter.  Marine Science students prepare for an excursion to the great reef off Cancun, MX, where they are dive-certified, and they spend three days diving with faculty members who are also certified divers/instructors. Literary students can take advantage of the “Tale of Two Cities,” which explores the literature and destinations in Paris and London.  Ancient history students are given opportunity to stand in the Forum, experience the Coliseum, and many other historic sites in Rome, the cradle of early Christianity.  Finally, one of the most popular trips is led by the Chaplain to Nogales, MX, where students spend time at the Curim House in one of the most impoverished slums of Mexico near the border town of Nogales.  For each of the above excursions students earn a half credit.  The classes are offered on a fee basis.