Advantages of the Sion Academic Experience
– Fr. Theodore Ratisbonne
The hallmark of a Sion education is the delivery of a challenging, college preparatory curriculum by educators who encourage their students to become discerning consumers of information who, armed with keen intellect, will act as stewards to the complex world around them. As educational professionals working in a mission-driven context, Sion’s faculty believe that whether in an Advanced Placement Chemistry course or in Fourth-grade Religion, students have the responsibility to use the knowledge they gain to leave the world better than they found it and to use the passions they gain here to ignite the passions of those around them. Fr. Theodore Ratisbonne, founder of the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, once said, “The fire must burn in order to kindle other fires.” At Sion, this fire that starts as a spark is kindled into a full-fledged inferno.
Beginning with our Montessori program, we believe that each of our students brings to school his or her own spark. Mixed-age classrooms filled with students who engage in self-directed learning mark the beginning of the Sion journey. In the Montessori tradition, self-direction and independent learning lead to the organic development of a love for learning.
In our Primary level, students combine that innate spark with the kindling gained in the Montessori program, giving birth to the early fire of learning. At the Primary level, our kindergarteners, first-graders, and second-graders focus on the core subjects of Reading, Writing, and Mathematics—the foundations of a classically-inspired education. Students also continue to focus on Science, Social Studies, and French. While the roots of this curriculum are thousands of years old, its delivery is decidedly twenty-first century all in the context of developing the skills necessary to find success as a student in the years ahead.
At the Intermediate level, 4th and 5th grade students work to apply those foundational skills acquired in the lower grades as the fire of learning grows and becomes stronger. Students begin to make use of our state-of-the-art Science laboratories and technology becomes an integral part of the curriculum. In Social Studies, students learn to present collected data graphically. In the fifth grade, Spanish joins French in the World Language curriculum—a curricular expansion that corresponds to expanding minds.
When students reach our our Middle School division, the fire now becomes self-sustaining. Students embark on the path of more in-depth study in each discipline and the delivery of course content encourages our students as they become independent thinkers who will confidently express opinions on what they are learning.
As young women are invited to attend Sion in the 9th grade at our High School campus, the goal becomes to enable students to share their individual fires of learning with others and to become responsible citizens of a larger world. Students engage in coursework that is aligned with the mission of the school, developing a sensitivity to and appreciation for the other. Social justice is a theme that permeates the High School curriculum and there are plentiful opportunities to excel academically in any of seven courses offering credit through Rockhurst University or ten College Board Advanced Placement offerings. These opportunities for an accelerated academic experience are continually evident in Sion’s representation as National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists and commendations.
The total academic experience at Sion is a special one. Fr. Ratisbonne believed that the responsible application and conveyance of knowledge outside of the school was of equal importance to the acquisition of that knowledge. One-hundred years after its foundation, Notre Dame de Sion School of Kansas City lives and heralds that message every day, and that is the Sion difference.