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Aquinas Honors Program

The Immaculate Conception Catholic Regional School St. Thomas Aquinas Honors Program provides an opportunity for a select group of highly competent and academically able seventh and eighth grade students who wish to advance their knowledge in an extended-day academic program for capable learners. Acceptance into the Aquinas Honors Program is a competitive process for highly motivated students whose academic abilities and talents span across the entire curriculum.


Named in honor of the patron Saint for students and Catholic education, the goal of the St. Thomas Aquinas Program is to provide capable learners who have advanced intellectual, academic, and creative capabilities the opportunity to dynamically interact with teachers and peers within a small rigorous learning environment while engaging in beyond grade-level academic experiences.

The guiding principles of the program are based on the expectation that all Aquinas Scholars be challenged to expand, promote and strengthen their knowledge, skills and God-given abilities in a quest for truth and deeper understanding. The Aquinas Honors Program is characterized by:

  • a challenging, extended curriculum in English Language Arts and Mathematics;

  • weekly engagement in small cohorts of capable learners;

  • greater demands for analytical thinking, creativity, and problem solving;

  • a high level of independence, self-confidence and self-reliance among students;

  • increased teacher and workload expectations for students.


In addition to participating in the rigorous Aquinas Honors Program, graduates of the program will receive a St. Thomas Aquinas Honors stole and certificate at graduation.  Aquinas Scholars will also be recognized to all high schools that an eighth grade student might apply.

The Aquinas Honors Program Experience

Students accepted to be Aquinas Scholars meet once weekly after school for the extended day program from 2:45pm until 4:30pm. Twelve to sixteen students who participate in the English Honors and Mathematics Honors classes, who also meet the requirements for admission to the program, will be accepted in both seventh and eighth grade cohorts respectively. Aquinas Scholars must participate in both the English and Mathematics Honors Programs, which are offered in back-to-back class sessions each Thursday.  Students are expected to complete work and assignments for the honors program in addition to regular course assignments.  It is expected that Aquinas Scholars have the ability to commit to the enhanced academic requirements and increased workload.

The English Honors Program increases rigor whereby students strengthen their critical thinking skills through extensive discussion and writing activities. The literature studied is taken from important informational texts and particular world classics. Students will write for diverse audiences with specific purposes in mind. Emphasis is placed on the writing of argumentative essays, literary analysis, fully documented research reports, and commentaries on novels, plays, and poems.

The Mathematics Honors Program for seventh grade students exposes students to Algebra and advanced mathematics topics. The Mathematics Honors Program for eighth grade students serves as an introduction to Geometry. The courses will cover basic terminology, algebraic thinking, reasoning skills, theorems, triangle relationships and more.

The Capstone Project

The yearly culmination of The St. Thomas Aquinas Honors Program requires students to complete a capstone project. This project showcases the Aquinas Scholars’ ability to analyze, synthesize, organize, and present their learning. The critical and creative thinking skills students will develop as they complete this project are essential to their success in high school and beyond.

To help students prepare for this project, the final two months of classes will be set aside for research, preparation, organization, creation, and practice for the final capstone experience. Students will use the meeting time (Thursdays from 2:45pm-4:30pm) to conference with the program advisors regarding their project. Specific details pertaining to this project will be provided to students at the start of the program; however, it is important to note that students will be required to present this project to a panel of teachers and administrators the month of May. Students will have the opportunity to invite parents and friends to their culminating capstone presentation.

Admission Guidelines

Parents/guardians interested in having their child considered for entrance into The St. Thomas Aquinas Honors Program will need to complete an application for admittance into the program. Admission into the program is highly competitive, as only twelve to sixteen students will be accepted. Admittance into the program is based upon:

  • successful completion of a cognitive abilities test in English and Mathematics

  • Trimester 1 grade point average (GPA) of 94% and above in at least four of the five core classes

  • availability to participate every Thursday afternoon from 2:45pm-4:30pm

  • completed application packet submitted deadline.

    • completed application form

    • completed parent questionnaire filled out by the parent/guardian

    • completed student questionnaire filled out by the student

    • one completed teacher questionnaire filled out by one of your child’s current teachers


Once all of the above-mentioned components are completed and submitted to the Director of the Aquinas Program, select students will be invited to a personal interview, after which, they will be notified of their acceptance into the program. It is important to note that each component is guided by the concern that the student is prepared for the greater demands of an Honors program to assure the greatest benefit for the student.

Readmission into the Aquinas Program

Parents and students already participating in the Aquinas Program will be required to sign a new commitment form each year agreeing to maintain the standards of the program. In order to remain in the program, students need to maintain a GPA of 94 and above in all core classes, and they must continue to uphold the values reflected in Immaculate Conception Catholic Regional School Code of Christian Community. If a student is unable to meet these standards, a conference will be held with the Director of the Aquinas Program, principal, parents, and student, and the student will be placed on probation for one grading period. If the student makes the expected improvement, the probation will no longer apply; however, if the student does not make the expected improvement by the end of the probationary period, he/she will be exited from the program.

For more information, please contact:

Mrs. Sue McKenna

Academic Dean

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