Academic Excellence

As St. Columba students move through the K-8 program, they learn to read actively, to write clearly and persuasively, to listen thoughtfully, to think critically and compassionately, and to act responsibly in a changing world. Students and teachers learn with and from one another, growing from a willingness to venture beyond what they comfortably know. 

One of the greatest aspects of Catholic education is that Catholic schools operate on the premise that the parents are the primary educators of their students. As such, parents expect and receive valuable and consistent communication regarding their child's total development. In turn, the school anticipates that families will be committed participants in the education of their children and to the success of the school. Your children thrive when there is a close relationship between families and school. Strong families build strong schools. At St. Columba School, it is our privilege and honor to participate in raising your children into whom you want them to be, within the context our our culture. Students succeed in our school culture of love, service, compassion and forgiveness.

“When Catholic schools teach children the truth of themselves, of God, and of the human condition, it will not only make them wise but set them free.”    Pope John Paul II

I encourage you to explore these pages, taking particular care to look for those places where you can see your child—or, if you’re a student, yourself—searching, learning, growing, being challenged, discovering a distinct inner light and thriving. I am wholeheartedly confident that, in doing so, St. Columba will come to feel like your home, too.

St. Columba Preschool

St. Columba Preschool is a comprehensive education program designed to engage children 3 – 5 years of age in activities that encourage intellectual, physical and emotional growth.

Our program separates children into age-appropriate groups, teaching social skills, conflict resolution, sharing and respect. We fine-tune motor skills, conduct science experiments, and explore the arts. We teach Spanish, create music and expand our imaginations. As children progress into Pre-Kindergarten classes, we introduce math, phonics and pre-reading programs, enabling children to transition into Elementary School with all the skill sets they need.

Our Director is Denise Fox. She and her highly-qualified team offer a God-inspired program, in a safe and fun environment.

Enrollment opportunities include both full-time and part-time students (as well as after-school care), following a traditional school calendar. An additional summer program is also available.
Tuition fees are based on the number of days a child attends (full-day or half-day). The Preschool operates consistently with a waiting list.
To learn more about enrolling at St. Columba Preschool, please contact us. Enrollment begins in early January.

Denise Fox
Preschool Director

Denise Fox, Preschool Director

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St. Columba Elementary School takes a traditional, structured approach to education, with an exemplary, child-centered academic program. Our core subjects focus on reading and reading comprehension, composition, inquiry and analytical skills.

St. Columba students are expected to achieve and we know that each child does so differently . Our teachers help all students to excel by differentiating their instruction to meet the needs of the broader classroom. This explains why St. Columba students consistently perform above grade level in all subject areas.

To complement our strong academic program, our elementary students are enriched with a full schedule of art, music, physical education,  and Spanish language with computers and communication technologies incorporated into their regular school day. Throughout all areas of study we emphasize communication, both written and spoken. St. Columba students develop outstanding public speaking skills, enabling them to interact thoughtfully and respectfully throughout the community.

Overview of early elementary classes: 
Kindergarten – Second Grade

Religion – Students learn stories of the Old and New Testament, traditional prayer memorization, seasons of the Church, the sacrament of Baptism, the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, culminating with preparation for receiving First Eucharist in the spring of second grade. The text used is Christ Our Life by Loyola Press.

Language Arts – Utilizing the Open Court / Imagine It reading system, students move from emergent readers to independent readers and writers who are able to decode words, having a good sense of phonemic awareness. Through journaling and writers’ workshop, students learn to express themselves while increasing vocabulary and improving spelling. Reading comprehension is fully developed through interactive processes teaching students how to synthesize information. Parts of speech, punctuation, capitalization and proper sentence structure are also introduced. Weekly spelling tests are administered in first and second grades.

Math – Our early elementary students explore numbers and number patterns, time, money, basic addition and subtraction, data and graphing, as well as introductory geometry, comparisons, measurements, fractions, place value, and regrouping. Houghton Mifflin text is used.

Science – Students study inquiry-based science, learning to apply the scientific method to all experiments. Life science, Earth science and Physical science are explored with varying units, including plants, animals, habitats, dinosaurs, small machines, magnets and outer space. Students also engage in group projects with parent volunteers, participating in our school’s annual Science Fair. Macmillan text is used.

Social Studies – Students learn about our country and the world around us through stories, discussions, and social studies units. Second graders also utilize reference materials, read maps and tables, and study our continents and oceans, using a Houghton Mifflin text.

Handwriting – Applying the D’Nealian form, students learn to properly space letters and words, developing fine motor coordination and legible handwriting. In second grade, D’Nealian cursive writing is introduced.

Spanish – At St. Columba, we recognize the enormous benefits of introducing foreign language study at an early age. As part of our comprehensive K-8 Spanish Language curriculum, early elementary students focus on acquiring correct pronunciation, comprehending spoken Spanish and learning some basic vocabulary and cultural insights. We teach greetings, classroom objects, colors, numbers, animals, days of the week and other simple words.

Technology – Students learn about the library, how to find information both in books and with a computer, enjoying all that technology has to offer. Keyboarding skills are also introduced. We have a set of Chromebooks shared amongst K-2. These tools are used regularly for enrichment and drill activities.

Music – Students develop a true appreciation for music, practicing songs for Mass and preparing special music for Christmas and Spring Programs. We teach tone quality, proper posture, and audience behavior. Students improvise simple rhythmic and melodic patterns using vocal sounds and movement. Instruments and composers are also studied, as well as music from different traditions and cultures.

Art – Early elementary students explore a variety of media creating their own works of art. The goal of art instruction at St. Columba is to cultivate the artist within every student. The visual arts are explored through materials, tools, techniques and processes, emphasizing cultural and historical points of view.

Physical Education – We introduce students to a wide variety of physical fitness activities, developing motor skills, coordination, timing, and accuracy. Our lessons include basic health education, stretching activities and an understanding of good teamwork. Students learn at an early age how physical activity can help build character and self esteem.

Overview: Third Grade – Fifth Grade

Religion – Students study the life of Jesus, the sacraments and their significance to one’s spiritual life, the parts of the Mass, the four types of prayers, and the lives of saints. Special emphasis is placed on social justice and service learning. Fourth Graders prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, including a review of the Commandments and a study of the Beatitudes. Sex education is also introduced in fourth grade. The text used is Christ Our Life by Loyola Press. Utilizing workbooks by Loyola Press, these principles of grammar are explored in an interesting format by drawing on history and the lives of saints.

Language Arts – Students gain further knowledge in a detailed study of the parts of speech, punctuation, capitalization and proper sentence structure. Weekly spelling tests allow the students to expand vocabulary and improve spelling. The mechanics of good writing are also emphasized with frequent composition opportunities, calling attention to the components of quality expository writing. Each grade utilizes fascinating age-appropriate books and texts from various genres to strengthen comprehension skills, exploring topics from American History, to folklore, to opera.

Math – Multiplication and division are introduced in third grade, as well as a continued study of addition, subtraction, estimation, word problems, geometry, and fractions. Measurement, place value, and graphing skills are further developed, while basic algebra is introduced. By fifth grade, students are skilled at ratios, percentages, probability, and decimals. Houghton Mifflin text is used.

Science – Students study Biology, Earth science and Physical science, exploring varying units including cells and ecosystems, Earth and its resources, weather, space, force, motion, and electricity. Students also work on group projects with parent volunteers, participating in our school’s annual Science Fair. Macmillan / McGraw-Hill text is used.

Social Studies – Third through fifth grade social studies focuses around the development of our country, from the physical formation of the land, to early Native American cultures, progressing through the founding and settlement of America. Our third graders trace the westward movement on the Oregon Trail, while our fourth graders concentrate on the development of different parts of our country, including natural resources and industry. Fifth graders study the advancement of our democratic system of government, and the Industrial Revolution. States and capitals, along with their locations on a map, are also memorized. Houghton Mifflin text is used.

Handwriting – Third graders are quickly expected to write only in D’Nealian cursive. Excellent penmanship is an expectation of all grades at St. Columba.

Spanish – While third through fifth grade students continue to focus on listening and speaking activities, they also begin to read and write in Spanish. Vocabulary includes additional topics such as family, the house, transportation, and the town. Cultural topics are explored in greater detail as well. At the fifth grade level, students have textbooks and worksheets. Students are required to understand, speak, read, and write complete sentences, conversations and paragraphs, learning basic grammatical concepts.

Technology – St. Columba School is an 1:1 Chromebook environment in 4th and 5th grade. Students utilize these tools throughout the school day for research, production, communication, and web -based enrichment activities.

Music – Students further develop their understanding of music while expanding on tone quality and diction. Singing in rounds is introduced, as well as a review of reading, notating, and performing rhythmic and melodic patterns.

Art – Students begin to identify and experiment with the various artistic materials, tools, techniques, and processes, recognizing art as a form of communication. Historical works of art will become identifiable, as the students are able to place them in their particular cultures, related to specific times in history.

Physical Education – Students are coached on appropriate basic skills for various sports games, honing their coordination skills, and encouraging a healthy, active lifestyle. Our lessons include basic health education, stretching activities and a review of good teamwork and sportsmanship.


Our academic program teaches students to question with confidence, to envision more than one way to solve a problem, and to explore more than one avenue for expressing themselves. In an ever-changing environment, today's students must expect more than just true-false and multiple choice questions. We are teaching our children to think for themselves, brainstorm without limits, and tinker with new methods.

St. Columba Middle School advances an interdisciplinary, skills-based approach to teaching. Our middle school faculty work together to coordinate subject matter so that the academic content taught in our middle school classes remains constant, while the concepts are uniquely tailored to each subject. This can only be accomplished through solid collaboration during our faculty’s shared preparation time. This team approach yields outstanding results for our middle school families.

Daily classes include math, science, grammar, literature, social studies and religion. Additional instruction is offered in Spanish language three days per week with art, music, and physical education twice a week.

Middle school years can often be a challenging time for adolescents. Our middle school faculty gives our students the tools needed to navigate these transitional years. We do this by showing honoring the whole child through Christ’s love, as ministers of the gospel. Our students come to fully understand responsibility, reflection and reconciliation. Not only are St. Columba students prepared academically to transition into high school, but our students leave St. Columba morally prepared, knowing how to exercise good judgment, show empathy and provide service to others.

Overview: Sixth Grade – Eighth Grade

Religion – Sixth grade students receive an in-depth study of the Old Testament, learning about God’s chosen people and the prophets, while seventh graders focus on the New Testament. Eighth grade curriculum introduces Church history and doctrine. Journaling on gospel writings helps to encourage an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus. The text used is Christ Our Life by Loyola Press.

Language Arts – Middle school students polish their skills in reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, and spelling. Composition work expands upon various styles of writing including narrative, expository, and persuasive essays. Literature studies include comparisons of fiction and nonfiction, drama, poetry, short stories, and themes in oral tradition and American stories. Language Arts provides an excellent opportunity to use an interdisciplinary approach, relating literature and composition to other areas of study, especially Social Studies.

Math – The spiraled curriculum of middle school math moves the students through pre-algebra and algebraic reasoning, into the principals of algebraic equations. Geometric relationships are also studied, including perimeter, area and volume formulas. Proportions, percents, integers and probability are further studied, as is data collection and analysis. Holt McDougal text is used. Our graduating eighth graders are fully prepared for a placement test to determine the appropriate level of mathematics for their freshman year of high school.

Science – Sixth grade Earth science spends part of the year studying water, including the Colorado River watershed. Glencoe text is used, along with a Division of Parks and Wildlife program which allows us to raise native Roundtail Chub, a fish that is currently of special concern. Science note-taking and organization is a focus. Next, sixth graders explore weather and climate. Seventh grade science studies Chemistry and Physics, along with a special program called RiverWatch. This Division of Parks and Wildlife program allows us to sample the Animas River monthly, performing titrations for alkalinity, dissolved oxygen, and hardness. Eighth grade science studies Forest and Fire Ecology, Wetlands studies, and Biology. Additionally, middle school students participate in our annual Science Fair, by entering an individual project. Students follow the scientific method, conducting an experiment of their choice. Many of our students go on to represent St. Columba in both the regional and state science fairs.

Social Studies – A rich study of history engages our middle school students, beginning with Ancient Civilizations in sixth grade. Neolithic peoples, Mesopotamia and the ancient civilizations of Egypt, India, China, Israel, and Greece, and the rise and fall of Rome are the topics covered. The seventh grade explores more world history covering the fall of Rome through the Reformation and the Enlightenment. The final quarter of the year is spent studying civics and American Government. Eighth grade Social Studies encompasses an in-depth study of U. S. history, from European exploration into the twentieth century with an emphasis on the Revolution through Reconstruction. The civics and government curriculum studied in the seventh grade is reviewed and expanded.

Spanish – Spanish instruction for middle school students is divided into two or more classes, based on ability. More advanced students receive more challenging work. Regardless of level, students are expected to master many grammatical concepts. New vocabulary is introduced, including activities, food, sports, celebrations, and shopping. Realidades A and B, and their accompanying components, are the text used. Our program is geared so that many of our graduating eighth graders will be prepared to enter Spanish II as freshman in high school.

Technology – Our Middle School is a 1:1 computer environment. Chromebooks are assigned to each student and the students travel with these tools throughout the academic day. St. Columba’s information and Communication Technology Program works as the support piece for our interdisciplinary approach to learning. Students utilize the Chromebooks to create documents and projects supporting content from their core and specialty class subjects. Students use these tools to submit work, communicate with teachers and classmates resulting in a collaborative and dynamic environment. Instruction is balanced between traditional and technology-enriched activities.

Music – Vocal music students continue developing their appreciation of music through voice, studying the use of specific musical elements in song. Scheduled programs and concerts allow music students important opportunities for performance.

Art – We enable middle school students to evaluate and select various forms of media as a way to enhance their artistic expression. Learning how to compare and contrast characteristics of art from specific time periods also enables students to make connections between art and their other studies, as part of our interdisciplinary approach to teaching.

Physical Education – Middle school students fully gain the athletic skills necessary to enjoy a wide variety of sports activities. Encouraging students to perform to the best of their abilities provides lessons that can be applied to all aspects of life. Student athletes in middle school are also given the opportunity to represent St. Columba in various extracurricular sports. 

Eighth grade is an important year In preparation for transition to high school. Mrs. May begins by working with the students at the beginning of their 8th grade year to set goals and a path for academics and activities. Students determine early what level of classes they will want to take entering high school. Many are on a track to enter into Sophomore level classes, others are headed for Freshman Honors courses, while still others plan on entering Freshman level entry courses. Taking into account their performance for the year, parent, student, and administrative discussion, Mrs. May writes a Academic Performance Narrative, that also includes Social/Emotional attributes. This assessment is then submitted to the counselors at the high school, and students are placed accordingly. 

P.S. We would be remiss if we didn't mention that St. Columba consistently sweeps the show at both the local and state level in History and Science Fair.......Because sometimes, it IS Rocket Science!

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