Why Canongate?

Our Vision

“Education,” in the words of G.K. Chesterton, “is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.”[1] The soul of our society, which we aim to pass on, is the Western tradition and the Catholic Faith.

Traditionally, these things were passed on by learning Latin, Greek, and the seven liberal arts—“classical education.” However, as the Catholic historian Christopher Dawson has explained, the classical method was a “superstructure” built on a “common spiritual foundation” provided by the culture of daily life. Because that wider culture has eroded,[2] “even if it were possible to preserve or to restore classical education it would by itself prove quite ineffective[.]”[3]

The challenge of schools today, in his view (and in ours), is to pass on to students the experiential awareness of life’s “spiritual unity” which used to be passed on by the culture. In the words of Stratford Caldecott, we now have to provide both the “content” and the “context.”[4]

To meet this challenge, we follow an adaptation of the classical model called “poetic education.”

Poetic education prioritizes immersion in reality. Frequent experiences of beauty and goodness are foundational to the formation of the young. We create the conditions for students to perceive that beauty is objective, that life is sacred, that the world was created by love, and that prayer is essential. To this end, we fill our school days with real things—nature, literature, musical instruments, paintings, community meals, conversations, and (especially) the liturgy.

Poetic education is also profoundly relational. We have formed a community where, within the boundaries of clear policies and expectations, students are given the freedom to grow in virtue and take responsibility for their learning.[5] Giving students guided formation, freedom, and forgiveness demonstrates to them God’s existence and character in way that theological instruction can’t.

Within this context, we teach the objective, intellectual content of the tradition. We maintain high academic standards, while helping students of all capacities to learn to the best of their ability. All students can and should develop a hunger for truth, an ability to make and evaluate arguments, and a respect for the great thinkers of the past, so that they may continue to add to the truths we teach them after they graduate.

In all aspects of our school, we strive to live up to Aristotle’s ancient dictum, “we work so that we may have leisure”[6]—leisure being rightly understood as restful activity in the good, not mere inactivity or amusement. Already at the very beginning of the Western tradition, school was considered a place of leisure to learn proper leisure.[7] By continuing that tradition, we hope to live out, together with students, the truth that there are ends, even on earth, higher than economics and appetite, and that our true “life’s work” is arriving at eternal sabbath rest in God.

[1] Illustrated London News, July 5, 1924.

[2] “[H]umanity has changed profoundly, and the accumulation of constant novelties exalts a superficiality which pulls us in one direction. It becomes difficult to pause and recover depth in life” (Pope Francis Laudato Si’ 113).

[3] Understanding Europe, ch. 1.

[4] “Towards a Distinctively Catholic School.”

[5] Students who are unwilling to participate in growth toward real freedom (those who demonstrate an inflexible disrespect of the Faith, school policies, or others) will be dismissed.

[6] Nicomachean Ethics, 10.7.6. See also Josef Pieper, Leisure, the Basis of Culture.

[7] Even the English word “school” comes from the Greek word for leisure: skole.

Academic Highlights

  • College placement with scholarship at University of Dallas, Belmont Abbey College, Ave Maria University, Catholic University of America, Christendom College, Western Carolina University, and St. Joseph Minor Seminary
  • 2018 NC Theater Conference Honorable Mention
  • 2016 NC Theater Conference Regional Winner and State Finalist
  • 2014 American High School Theatre Festival invite to Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Offers the Classical Learning Test in addition to the SAT and ACT.
  • Policy guidance provided by The Cardinal Newman Society

 

Spiritual Highlights

  • In harmony with Catholic Social Teaching, Canongate endeavors to keep tuition affordable at $6,800.  Furthermore, Canongate offers tuition assistance to those families in true need so that no child is denied a Catholic education for financial reasons. To apply for financial assistance, visit FACTS and create an account.
  • Canongate’s patron saint is St. Margaret of Scotland, patron of families and learning.
  •  Teachers and students attend mass at local Catholic parishes every Friday.
  • Fr. Adrian Porras, Pastor of St. Barnabas Catholic Church, is our Spiritual Director
  • Non-Catholics who are respectful of the Catholic Faith are more than welcome to attend.

 

Community Involvement & Support

  • Highland Games, Canonball Community Dance, and Spring Play
  • Great Conversation Guest Speaker Series
  • Service days at Habitat for Humanity, Veterans Restoration Quarters,
    Gerard’s House, Universal Healthcare in Fletcher, and Downtown Welcome Table in Asheville
  • Canongate’s Schola Cantorum provides music for local masses
  • $400k+ raised in need-based scholarships from financial sponsors
  • Affiliate School of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education
  • Candidate for membership in The National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools

 

Our History

After a 40 year absence of Catholic secondary education in the Asheville area, Canongate Catholic High School opened September 4, 2013 with 14 students in 9th-12th grades. Currently, two full-time and six part-time teachers (67% advanced degrees) teach 18 students: nine freshmen, three sophomores, two juniors, and four seniors. The name of the school is based in the life of our patron saint, St. Margaret of Scotland, and refers to the name of the medieval castle road that connected to the grand church built in her honor.  For us, the name is a perfect metaphor to describe authentic education.  By way of the canon – the enduring works of art and literature, together with the Church’s scripture and its Eucharistic prayer – we find our path out of shadows into the truth.  

As an independent Catholic school, Canongate is not directed or financially supported by the Diocese of Charlotte.  Canongate’s first campus, occupied for one year, was located on Cane Creek Rd. between Fletcher and Fairview at the Korean Catholic Mission, and its second campus was in central Fletcher at 4110 Hendersonville Rd.  In the Fall of 2019, Bishop Jugis approved for Canongate to relocate to St. Barnabas Catholic Church, starting January 1, 2020.  

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