In addition to the traditional curriculum, Saint Thomas offers several “Specials” that enrich and broaden learning and allow students to hone individual talents and interests.
At Saint Thomas, we believe that the power of music helps our students academically. Our preschoolers and kindergarteners receive music from Franciscan Life Process Center. Through music, students' social and academic abilities are strengthened and transformed. Music therapy gives students the basic tools to become successful lifelong learners. Our own music instructer teaches grades 1-8. The curriculum includes instrumental knowledge and practice, music reading, composing and writing, and performance skills. Our students provide all of the music for our school masses and produce various performances throughout the year.
Mastering an instrument, working as a group and serving others through music – our students learn all of these experiences in band. At the end of 5th grade, we survey students and fit them for a musical instrument based on their interests and talents. Middle school students participate in band during school hours. Our Saint Thomas band performs at our Spring Program, Partner School events as well as two special performances during the school year.
While we use computers and technology in all of our classrooms, our students also participate in a class dedicated to developing technology skills. Our technology coordinator meets with our kindergarten students weekly, while students in grades 1-8 have a Grand Rapids Shared-Time computer teacher twice a week. Students learn basic skills, cyber safety, Microsoft Publishing, Excel and Word, StoryBook Weaver, among other programs. Our computer teacher helps our students create multi-media presentations to highlight what they're learning in the traditional classroom.
Learning a second language opens our students' minds to new cultures and traditions. Spanish begins in preschool and continues through 8th grade, with frequency added in the middle school grades. Students learn basic vocabulary in the early grades and work toward writing and conversational skills in middle school. Additionally, students learn about Mexican culture and customs, rich in Catholic traditions.
We value the whole student – mind, body and spirit. Our physical education classes are designed to emphasize exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. Saint Thomas instructors provide physical education in the gym, classroom and playground for our preschool and kindergarten students once a week. Students in grades 1-8 exercise in our historical Saint Thomas gymnasium twice a week through the Grand Rapids Shared-Time Program. Students learn team sports as well as individual activities.
At Saint Thomas, we believe that art enriches our students' lives. Our elementary students learn basic drawing and compositional skills while working in a wide variety of media. We emphasize material handling and problem solving as students work with paints, oil pastels, pencils, chalk pastels, mixed media, collage and clay.
Our middle school students learn advanced drawing techniques including perspective, human proportion, contour, modeling, and shading. They also research cultural and historical art forms and integrate them into their own work.
Saint Thomas teaches our students the value and beauty of the arts. We lead the Diocese in inspiring children to take part in Grand Rapids' ArtPrize competition. To enjoy in person the power of everyday things, art and God's agreement with Noah, please visit this art in its new home, The Diocese of Grand Rapids.
Each class in preschool through 6th grade visits the Library/Media Center once a week. Our librarian and parent volunteers help students find that special book that speaks to each individual child. Additionally, our Read to Me/Read to You Program nurtures a lifelong love for reading.