A new direction, always rooted in faith

Sacred Heart Academy is dedicated to educating children—forming hearts and minds in pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty. What we’re doing is something new and exciting—you might even say radical (from the Latin radix, root). After serving the community for over one hundred years as Sacred Heart of Jesus School, the pastor and school board chose to refound the school as a classical academy in preparation for the 2013-14 school year. At that time we began a complete overhaul of our curriculum, programs, and methods in order to more firmly root our educational ministry in our enduringly Catholic and newly classical identity. By doing so we began the important work of ensuring that Sacred Heart will provide the best intellectual and spiritual formation for our students for decades to come.

We offer a rigorous education, centered on the Incarnation and dedicated to the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty, which makes Sacred Heart Academy both a lively and effective academic institution, but more importantly it helps us to more fully embody our mission as a parish apostolate to form and evangelize. Together these two elements create a firm foundation for Sacred Heart Academy’s role in the cultural renewal of Grand Rapids and beyond.

Learn more about some of the key resources that helped shape the vision for Sacred Heart Academy.

Why choose Sacred Heart Academy?

What we are doing at Sacred Heart Academy is something that is not only unique in the Grand Rapids area, but truly exceptional even on a national scale.* When considering Sacred Heart Academy as a possible fit for your family, know that we are devoted to:

Providing a Classical Curriculum in a Diocesan School — We are one of only about a dozen Catholic classical schools in the country. This places us in a unique position to teach the fullness of the Catholic faith in fidelity to the Magisterium and in light of our Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian heritage. By possessing an ordered view of Western culture which places the Incarnation at the center of history, we can freely and joyfully pursue truth by means of reason in the light of faith.

To learn more about what classical education means in a Catholic context, read Beyond the Test – The Catholic Intellectual Tradition, Rediscovered. Find out more what makes an education ‘classical’ here.

Centered on the Sacramental Life of the Church — While there is a growing movement across the country to return to classical education, only a few parish schools have sought to ground themselves in the tradition of daily Mass. All of our 1st-10th grade full time students, and 2nd-12th part time students begin each academic day by encountering Christ in the Eucharist. Daily Mass offers an opportunity to prepare mentally and spiritually for the work of the day. Every Tuesday our students also spend time with the parish community in Eucharistic Adoration. Regular Reconciliation during the school day provides students and staff an opportunity for self-examination and absolution.

Dedicated to Assisting Families — Parents are the first educators of their children. At Sacred Heart Academy we recognize that our school is a ministry of the parish designed to serve families in this high calling. To do so we provide full-time educational programs to 3-year-olds through 9th graders and a part-time program called Classsical Enrichment Courses (CEC) to students in 1st-12th grade from area homeschooling families. All families are invited to join us on Wednesday evenings for our Parish Family Night. These begin with Vespers  at 5 p.m., followed by a community potluck meal, and then Catechesis for all ages. We are also in the process of growing our own classical high school, with the addition of a 10th grade class in the 2016-2017 school year. By the 2018-2019 academic year, we will offer full-time programs from preschool through 12th grade.

Independent of State and Federal Funding — Sacred Heart Academy does not accept one penny of state or federal funding. This choice places a significant financial burden on us, but allows us to maintain our autonomy, preserve a distinctly Catholic culture, and design our curriculum without reference to the Common Core or similar initiatives.

With a Vision for Catholic Culture — From our 3-6-year-olds in the Montessori program to the 11th- and 12th- graders taking Natural Law Morality and Government, we strive to draw our students into an authentically Catholic culture. Every day our students read classic literature, discuss the virtues and vices of great historical figures, engage in hands-on discovery of the Created world, contemplate the beauty and order of great art, music and the principles of mathematics, and grow in understanding of the language (Latin) and the teachings of the Catholic church. This kind of education prepares students body, mind, and spirit for their individual vocations, but more importantly for the universal vocation to sanctity: The call each of us have to becomes saints, living in the love of God and neighbor both here and hereafter.

*This is one area in which we would love to be proved wrong! If you are part of or know of another school characterized by all five of the above distinctions, please let us know.

To learn more about our Vision and to delve deeper into understanding the classical tradition in Catholic education, please visit our Resources page.

What is a classical academy?

In many ways, being a classical academy means going ‘back to the future’ building on the great works and languages of antiquity and others who have gone before us to create a better tomorrow. The administrative team of Sacred Heart Academy recently sat down with Alan Dunst of the Catholic Forum to discuss what it means to be a classical academy. Watch the entire interview below. (To learn more about the ministry of Catholic Forum Inc., go to