Academics

Raising young men and women of intellect and faith

St. James combines the most innovative and progressive teaching methods with the best of a traditional Catholic education, focusing not on just what students are taught, but also how they are taught. The nurturing environment accommodates various learning styles and promotes leadership, self-discipline, and personal responsibility.

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Early Childhood (Preschool)

Through daily routine, thematic-based lessons, and structured and free-choice playtime, our preschool program encourages exploration, small and large motor skill development, self-esteem and character building, and the growth of social skills and friendships. Religious instruction, daily prayers, and Bible stories are an integral part of our Christian preschool experience.

PreK Highlights/Requirements

  • Play & academic learning centers
  • Jolly Phonics & Heggerty Phonemic Awareness
  • Handwriting Without Tears (Pk4)
  • Specialties: Music (Pk3, 4) Physical Education (Pk4), and Library (Pk4)
  • Prayer Buddy program with Fifth grade (Pk4)
  • Halloween Fun Fair, hosted by Sixth Grade

PK3 Tues/Thurs half-day plus extension options
PK4 M/W/F and five, half-day/full-day and extension options

Primary School (K-2nd)

Our primary classrooms offer a supportive and engaging learning environment where every child benefits. There is an emphasis on fostering each child’s relationship with Jesus, advancing reading, writing, and math skills through multiple opportunities using each modality, and developing social skills in shared play with peers. Through small group centers and differentiated instruction, students are challenged to progress at their individual level.

Primary Grade Highlights

  • Students partnered with an upper-grade friend in faith in our Prayer Buddy Program
  • Daily Religion class, unique faith formation projects, and weekly all-school mass
  • Second Step SEL Lessons
  • Specialties: Music, PE, Art (1 & 2), Library, and STEM
  • Field Trips: Pumpkin Farm (K), Apple Orchard (1), YMCA Swim (2)
  • Current Events lessons using Scholastic News
  • Digital citizenship units and a balanced technology approach with 1:1 iPad access
  • Small guided reading groups with focus on fluency and comprehension
  • Halloween Fun Fair (hosted by Sixth Grade)

Kindergarten Highlights

  • 6 Traits Writing, Jolly Phonics, and Heggerty Phonemic Awareness
  • Seasonal Kindergarten Christmas Concert
  • 5-day half- and full-day options

1st Grade Highlights

  • Students process into All Saints Day mass dressed as a Catholic Saint
  • Narrative, informative, and persuasive writing units
  • Learning Projects: Animal research, Catholic Saints

2nd Grade Highlights

  • Sacramental preparation and celebration of First Reconciliation and First Communion including Communion Workshop led by parent volunteers
  • Learning projects: Biography Unit wax museum, Animal Habitat diorama, Flat Stanley country and culture correspondence
  • Introduction to cursive handwriting

Elementary School (3rd-5th)

Our Elementary School teaching philosophy is to provide students with opportunities to grow academically, socially, and emotionally. In Fourth and Fifth Grades, students begin to prepare for Junior High by switching classes with placement in differentiated learning environments to best meet each student’s learning style. With leveled learning, we reap the rewards of student achievement, success, and confidence.

Elementary Highlights

  • Faith study and application of various prayers, sacraments, and scripture, including weekly mass and mass planning; in-depth study of Mary, the Mother of God (5)
  • Specialties: Music, PE, Art, Library, and STEM
  • Digital citizenship units and a balanced technology approach with 1:1 iPad access and Google Workspace for Education
  • Science labs, interactivities, and hands-on units of life, physical, and earth science
  • Reading lessons include genre study, story element identification, and comprehension strategies with reading centers and guided reading groups
  • Six traits of writing with units of persuasive, opinion, argumentative, and informative writing
  • Social studies units on geography, states and capitals, economics, colonization, government, resources, North American exploration and formation of the new nation
  • Math skill development with problem solving and reasoning in areas of multiplication, division, measurement, fractions, decimals, geometry
  • Field Trip to The Grove (3), Brookfield Zoo (3&4), Metropolis (5)
  • Family Life Unit discussed with the Sacraments of Service (5)

Junior High (6th-8th)

St. James Students are fully prepared for high school and graduate with a strong foundation of faith, academic integrity, and moral character. Our junior high experience contributes to student readiness and confidence to enter into the next level of their education. Students are challenged to be critical thinkers and meet high expectations in a rigorous academic environment with the unparalleled support of the faculty and staff. Lifelong memories and friendships are made throughout a St. James student’s journey, culminating here in our junior high, where our students aspire to do great things and be of service to others.

Junior High Highlights

  • Prayer buddies with younger Bulldogs (8th/2nd, 7th/1st, 6th/K)
  • Religion lessons, retreats, and Confirmation preparation and celebration (7-8); Decision Point curriculum, weekly all-school mass
  • Digital citizenship units and 1:1 iPad program with Google Workspace for Education
  • Next Generations Science Standards; Earth (6), Life (7), Physical Science (8)
  • Block schedule for Math and ELA classes to prepare for the transition to high school
  • US history and Constitution test, economics, geography (7), Media Literacy, Political Science, and Illinois Constitution test (8)
  • Specialties: Music, PE, Art, Library, STEM, and Spanish
  • Spanish Club
  • Scholastic Bowl Team (7&8)
  • Student Leadership Team (8)

6th Grade Highlights

  • Plan and organize the Halloween Fun Fair for Pk-2nd grades
  • Tie-dye shirt and Variety Show skit tradition
  • Learning Projects: Weather reports, Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses, Space
  • Field Trips to Field Museum in Chicago, Medieval Times, and year-end outdoor education overnight trip to White Pines Ranch in Oregon, IL

7th Grade Highlights

  • Learning projects: Cell Analogy, Genetic Disorder Brochure, Plant Inquiry, ELA Demonstration speech
  • Day-trip to Springfield, IL

8th Grade Highlights

  • Learning Projects: ELA 20% Project, Periodic Table, Animation of Newton’s Laws, Mousetrap Cars
  • Field trips to Cantigny and Illinois Holocaust Museums, Graduation Trip to Chicago including Lincoln Park Zoo, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, Blue Man Group, and the Sky Deck at Willis Tower
  • Annual closing act during Catholic Schools Week Variety Show
  • May Crowning & Graduation Dinner Dance

Student Services

At St. James School, we pride ourselves in creating an inclusive learning environment for all students. Our Student Services program provides support to students who are eligible for an IEP or a 504 Plan (Accommodation Plans). Student Success Plans are written for qualifying students. These plans document specific accommodations and goals targeted to meet each individual student’s classroom needs. Special education teachers collaborate with general education teachers to implement these plans. We have several Learning Behavior Specialists and teaching assistants who provide our diverse learners academic and behavioral support in small group resource classes and in our inclusive general education settings. Teachers use evidence and researched-based instructional methods and materials to optimize student growth.

SPECIALS

Spanish

  • Spanish is considered a core subject in Junior High and is a full class period, 5 days a week
  • Spanish Club is offered every week
  • Students make connections with hispanic culture and their own faith through celebration of Día de los Muertos, All Saints/Souls Day, and a yearly bilingual all-school mass
  • Many students enter into their freshman year in Spanish 2

Physical Education

  • PreK through grade 5 has PE bi-weekly, 6th-8th has daily PE
  • PreK & Kindergarten practices locomotor skills, personal space, taking turns, and following directions through low-organized games and parachute play
  • Grades 1-4 play low-organized games with different skill sets emphasizing sportsmanship, active participation, and Christlike feedback to teammates
  • Grades 5-8 units include skill acquisition, promotion of fitness, decision making, and safe social interaction
  • PE Enrichments: Downhill Ski Trip (7&8); Ballroom dancing (8); Bowling trip (5-8); and Golf trip-par 3 course (7&8)

Art

  • Grades 1-8 have weekly art class with many opportunities to create visual artwork using a variety of art mediums and techniques
  • Students develop motor, social, risk-taking, and critical thinking skills through art expression, knowledge, and visual literacy
  • Students gain perspective by studying the work of artists past and present

Music

  • General music offered to PK-8th Grade developing motor skills, language development, self-confidence, visual learning, cultural awareness, and academic performance
  • Development of music skills and knowledge through body movement, playing percussion instruments, singing to a steady beat, sight reading, studying composers, music genres, theory, melody, and rhythm
  • Incorporating iPad Music Technology allows students to branch out into audio/visual projects, better help with technical aspects of the theater program, and prepare them for advanced music classes in high school
  • Music performances include our Christmas concert, end of year concert, and the traditional 8th grade May Crowning and graduation performance
  • Third graders explore instrument interest and potential with instruction on recorders

Co-Curriculars

Bulldog Chorus

St. James School’s student choir is open to students in 2nd through 4th grade. This group of singers performs at Pep Rallies, School Mass, and the Variety Show. By developing musical skills and performing in public, the students acquire poise, increased self-esteem, and an understanding that discipline and hard work bring rewards.

Student Cantors & Instrumentalists

Students in grades 6-8 are invited to cantor at our school mass. Students will prepare for masses with the guidance of the music teacher before school and meet with the music teacher prior to school mass to review music. Students are also welcome to audition to play instruments and be included in leading the student congregation in song.

Slide Squad

Students interested in serving with the music ministry during mass can offer to provide technical support as a slide operator. Students on our slide squad follow along with the mass to offer lyrics to the congregation.

Broadway Bulldogs

The Broadway Bulldogs is our junior high theatre group bringing musical productions to the stage each winter. The overall production is led by talented parent volunteers. Students in grades 6-8 are invited annually to be part of the production. Students can audition to be in the show or assist with stage crew or lighting and tech. No student is turned away! Those involved develop a wide range of skills as well as friendships and lifelong memories as they display their talent on the St. James stage.

Band

Our band program is open to students beginning in 4th Grade. Students are provided with individual and group instruction to take them from being beginners on their instrument, working at finding notes and rhythms, to being full-contributing members of a band ensemble. Students perform in concert three times per year for both school and parent audiences. Additional opportunities evolve through the program, allowing students to further develop their musical talent and showcase their progress. Students have performed during the Arlington Heights Memorial Day parade, for residents at the Lutheran Home and Village, during school masses with music ministry, and also as the “bucket band” during our annual variety show providing lively, heart-thumping music. Our band program consists of a Beginner Band (4th Grade), Junior Band (5th Grade), Senior Band (Junior High), and Jazz Band (5th-8th Grade).

Technology & STEM Lab

Our one-to-one iPad program allows for technology integration in context at all grade levels. Students incorporate the use of technology as a learning and assessment tool. A priority on technology balance is placed in grades K-5, while the junior high emphasizes technology use not just for engaged learning, but also for high school preparation. All grades receive age-appropriate instruction and project-based learning and assessments on the topics of digital citizenship, keyboarding, coding, document creation, and presentation skills. Google Workspace for Education provides the platform for hands-on project work involving documents, slide presentations, forms, and spreadsheets. Additional multimedia applications offer opportunities for optimum student engagement and creativity for poem publishing, Video Presentations, Website Design, Newspaper Publishing, Stop-Motion Videos, GIF Creation, Graphical Analysis, and Green Screen Technology.

Our STEM Lab (coming soon) will exceed the curiosities of even the most tech-savvy student. With a curriculum that is designed to meet Standards for Common Core, College and Career Readiness, NGSS, ISTE, and CSTA, students rotate through learning stations where each engagement is a new experience. Our students will be critically thinking, creatively solving problems, and collaborating for success! Our Smart Lab, equipped with a variety of engaging educational technology, will be visited once per week by all K-8 students. Students will experience circuitry, digital illustrations, animation, coding, robotics, simple machines, engineering design, 3D printing, and renewable energy.

Library

All students in Pk-8th grade visit the library regularly. Library curriculum includes book selection and care, author and genre exploration, digital research, holiday/national days, and digital citizenship. Students learn to locate books using the Destiny Discover database, recognizing call numbers, and learning the Dewey Decimal System. All students are able to borrow materials from the library and learn to be responsible for returning books on time. Library highlights include the Battle of the Books (grades 3-8) and the Catholic Schools Week Book Fair co-hosted by the library and our FSA.

St. James School Athletics

The Saint James Athletic Program teaches and encourages Christian values as it promotes physical development, athletic skill, team camaraderie, good sportsmanship, and school spirit. Any student in grades 5-8 may participate in SJS athletics. All sports are non-cut rosters and if we have sufficient numbers, we enter two teams for some sports in order to accommodate all of the student athletes.

For the majority of sports, SJS competes in the Northwest Catholic Conference (NWCC).
Visit www.northwestcatholicconference.com to cheer on St. James!

Poms Girls, grade 4 & 5 Fall/Winter Perform at school events & basketball games
Volleyball Girls, grade 5-8 Fall
Cross Country CoEd, grade 5-8 Fall JV (5th/6th), Varsity (7th/8th)
Soccer CoEd, grade 5-8 Fall North Shore Catholic School Soccer League
Basketball Boys, grade 5-8 Winter
Basketball Girls, grade 5-8 Winter
Track & Field CoEd, grade 5-8 Spring JV (5th/6th), Varsity (7th/8th)
Softball Girls, grade 5-8 Spring JV (5th/6th), Varsity (7th/8th)
Volleyball Boys, grade 5-8 Spring