Curriculum and Instructional Programs


"Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people, and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of the Christian life” (CCC 5). The Guidelines for Religious Education are structured around a center; the mystery of the Blessed Trinity and of Christ as expressed in the 4 Pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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The language arts program is the foundation of academic instruction in the Catholic elementary classroom. Success in all areas of learning relies on competency in the four areas of language: reading, writing, speaking and listening. In working toward this goal, recognition of varying learning styles, developmental levels and teaching methods is essential.

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The Mathematics Curriculum Objectives outline the essential components of the Math curriculum for each grade level (K-8) for Diocese of Arlington Catholic Schools. We differentiate instruction with small math groups. Students use manipulatives to build conceptual understanding and connect their learning to real world applications.

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God has planted within human nature the desire to know and understand, to learn and explore, and to seek answers to questions in the world around us. Science is an area of the curriculum where that desire can be fostered by allowing the children to explore and discover the wonders of their world. Science probes the mysteries of the earth and universe, seeking the Creator in all things.

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As Catholic educators in the field of social studies, we believe that there is an integral connection between this subject and the social teachings of the Church. It is our privilege and our duty to deepen the awareness of this connection in ourselves and in our students. We believe that we are called to teach the value of citizenship as Jesus did when He spoke of loving our neighbor and valuing justice.

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Students at the Basilica School of Saint Mary are fortunate to begin their study of Spanish in pre-k. Natural language learning ability begins at an early age, so our students benefit greatly from instruction that begins when they are young and continues throughout their schooling. 

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Advancements in our rapidly changing world necessitate the acquisition of technological skills to enable students to function in the 21st Century. As lifelong learners and followers of Jesus, our students strive to become citizens who are capable of making significant contributions to our global society. They must also become aware of the social and ethical impact of technology. To this end, the Arlington Diocese endeavors to make our students knowledgeable and effective technology users.

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The diocesan philosophy of art instruction is based on the belief that each person is a unique creation, having worth as a child of God, and as a gift of God, possessing many talents. The child develops an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the order and beauty of God’s creation and of man-made works of art. The art curriculum is designed to stimulate the child to think creatively, to plan, to create, and to evaluate. Students at the Basilica of Saint Mary have regular opportunities to study art from different cultures.

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Music class is primarily a way of helping students develop their own musical gifts; however, music appreciation is also an integral part of the learning which occurs. This class gives students the opportunity to study culture and history through music. The importance of music as an art form is highlighted as part of the process. The students also learn religious songs and apply this when they attend Mass each Friday. They have many opportunities to perform and grow as individuals and as part of an ensemble.

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God grants us the intellect to know, care for, and to protect the body that houses His image. For students, this is learned when schools promote and model lifetime wellness by teaching health concepts and physical fitness activities. Physical education is an integral part of holistic Catholic education. Students participate in physical education twice during the six day SAINTZ rotation cycle.


The Library Media Center serves as the school's Learning Commons, where our growing saints, stewards, and scholars will develop the skills to become lifelong learners, critical thinkers, and faith-filled citizens capable of making meaningful contributions to our digital and global society. The Diocese curriculum incorporates the recently revised National School Library Standards to develop literacy, thinking, and problem-solving skills. The Librarian and Media Specialist foster the joy of reading and skill development through various learning activities and read-aloud.  She also works closely with grade-level teachers in all subject areas to support instruction and the research process.  During their scheduled library time or as needed, students can browse and check out titles from a collection of over 15,000 books.  The Online Library Catalog further enables students, at school or home, to electronically search the collection, check out digital books, and explore vetted digital reference materials.

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