The Rhetoric Level

School of Rhetoric

Arma Dei Academy School of Rhetoric is a Christ-centered, academically vigorous college preparatory program. All students (grades 9-12) engage in a comprehensive core of classes that integrate the study of the seven liberal arts, known as the trivium and the quadrivium. They learn to view and evaluate all learning through the lens of God’s holy word, known as a biblical worldview. They participate in the Great Conversation, reading and discussing ideas from the literature, philosophy, and history of Western Civilization from the ancient world to the twenty-first century. Students in the School of Rhetoric are taught according to a purposefully designed curriculum by passionate, highly trained teachers. Most hold advanced degrees. Students are prepared for a lifetime of learning, creating culture, and serving God’s kingdom.

Portrait of a Graduate

Arma Dei Academy intentionally nurtures a graduate who

  • seeks Christ in all human endeavors supported by a comprehensive biblical worldview;
  • lives the character of Christ with wisdom, virtue, and compassion;
  • graduates college ready with a strong foundation in the classical liberal arts;
  • contributes joyfully to authentic Christian community;
  • and creates culture as a beacon of Christ’s love in society through an intentional calling while countering the culture at large when needed, intelligently, and with conviction.

School of Rhetoric Philosophy

It is difficult to find a school that maintains excellent academic standards while building a strong biblical foundation; this is Arma Dei Academy’s goal. A classical Christian education teaches students how to think, not just what to think. The Academy encourages thoughtful, intelligent faith and helps students pursue excellence with humility. The Academy’s partnership with parents helps students thrive and flourish intellectually and spiritually in a community of like-minded Christian families. Arma Dei Academy raises the standards beyond what the current culture expects by training students to reason, discern, and aspire.

In grades 9-12, classical rhetoric is emphasized as the fundamental skill of speaking and writing persuasively. It is taught, practiced, and refined throughout every subject and class including science, mathematics, theology, languages, and the humanities. Building on the foundation of grammar and logical reasoning, rhetoric is the skill of finding the best available means of persuasion in order to lead others into what is true, good, and beautiful. The culmination of an Arma Dei School of Rhetoric education is a senior thesis presentation and capstone travel.

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Unified Core Liberal Arts Curriculum
Arma Dei Academy pedagogy unifies the School of Rhetoric course of study. The general educational purpose of a core course of study is to ensure that all students take and complete courses that are considered to be academically and culturally essential. These courses teach students the foundational knowledge and skills they will need in college, careers, and adult life. Students gain a strong foundation in theology, humanities, mathematics, the sciences, and foreign languages; additionally, students earn at least two credits in the arts and two credits of conditioning and athletics. Students are encouraged to achieve beyond these requirements and explore electives.

The Great Ideas and the Great Conversation
The curriculum promotes the Great Conversation and Great Ideas in the context of a biblical worldview as a permeating school culture. Teachers engage students in Socratic discussions of great works of history, literature, poetry, art, music, math, and science. Students study dozens of original works such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, Antigone and Oedipus Rex, the Bible, Divine Comedy, the Koran, Beowulf, Hamlet, Paradise Lost, Pride and Prejudice, The Communist Manifesto, and American founding documents. Scientific and mathematical works by such authors as Euclid, Archimedes, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton will also be studied.

Class Size

Small class sizes enable more individual attention and facilitate effective studio, laboratory, and discussion-based learning.

Arma Dei Academy’s Rhetoric School has been blessed by God with extraordinary teachers—men and women that possess a rare combination of academic expertise, pedagogical proficiency, and profound love for both God and students. While qualifications are admittedly only one test of quality, it is nevertheless noteworthy that, as of the 2022-2023 school year, each of the Rhetoric School’s seven full-time teachers possess a Master’s degree and three possess Doctoral degrees. Having highly qualified teachers is, of course, critical to the success of Arma Dei’s mission relative to Rhetoric students, which is to provide them “an excellent classical Christian education, founded upon a biblical worldview, which equips [them] to live purposefully and intelligently in service to God and others.” Having highly qualified teachers has also, however, allowed the school to pursue Dual Credit status (i.e, both high school and college credit) for its core classes, with an ultimate goal that students might earn an Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts during their tenure in the Rhetoric School at Arma Dei Academy.

Recent years have witnessed the emergence of several options for high school students to get a head start on their college education; namely, Clep Exams, Advanced Placement classes, and Dual Credit classes. Clep Exams do not require any specific course work; they merely test a student’s proficiency in college-level subject matter with the expectation that colleges and universities will be willing to translate proven proficiency into college credit. Colleges and universities with higher admission standards generally will not accept college credit “earned” through Clep Exams. Advanced Placement classes offer a better option for obtaining college credit, but still rely on standardized tests at the conclusion of courses to prove proficiency, which potentially obligates high schools to alter their curricula (i.e., to “teach to the test”), and necessarily obligates students to perform well on “test day,” which is not always the best measure of a student’s mastery of material comprising a particular subject. Dual Credit classes, by way of contrast, give schools the freedom to define their own curriculum (in keeping with objectives higher than the attainment of college credit) and students the freedom to earn college credit based on their actual mastery of material and performance throughout an entire course. Dual credit classes are courses designed entirely by a secondary school as part of their own curriculum, which courses are examined by an accredited university to determine equivalency (in terms of content, academic rigor, and quality of instructors) to courses in their own Academic Catalogue. Where such equivalency can be established, students are permitted to enroll in the college course equivalent to their high school course and obtain college credit from the accredited university while simultaneously obtaining credit from, and meeting graduation requirements at, their own high school.

In summary, Dual Credit classes preserve the prerogative of secondary schools to develop their own curriculum and offer students the most reliable method for getting a head start on their college credit requirements insofar as they place actual transcripts from an accredited university in the hands of those students. When those students subsequently matriculate in the college or university of their choice, they will appeal to the registrar of that institution to receive their previously earned college credit by way of transfer. (Alternatively, students might continue their studies at Colorado Christian University, which offers a tuition discount to students who have taken Dual Credit classes in partnership with CCU at their high school.) As noted above, Arma Dei Academy’s goal is to obtain dual credit status for enough classes to offer an Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts (60 credits) to students during their tenure in the Rhetoric School, thereby allowing them to enter university with half the credits normally required for a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. Students thus stand to save significant money (in the form of college tuition fees) and significant time, having already achieved genuine mastery of the content comprised in those General Education courses that constitute university degree programs. To put the matter another way, students will be able to bypass the large, impersonal lecture halls where 100 and 200 level courses are taught and move directly to the smaller, more intimate classrooms where the 300 and 400 level courses
constituting their college majors are offered.

Arma Dei Academy has partnered with Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado, to obtain Dual Credit status for its core courses. Colorado Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which is one of the six regional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). As of the 2022-2023 school year, the following Arma Dei Academy courses have been approved for Dual Credit status. Each year-long course at Arma Dei Academy translates into one semester of college-level learning at the credit value noted below.

The course of study includes Arma Dei Academy School of Rhetoric distinctives with a table detailing the subjects to be studied, credits necessary to graduate, and courses normally offered for each grade. Arma Dei Academy enjoys much freedom to design a mission-appropriate course of study for the School of Rhetoric. There are few constraints from the state of Colorado, none from the local independent school district, and the Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS) accreditation requirements for graduation will be easily exceeded. The course of study recommended is consistent with the finest classical Christian schools in the United States.

Download Curriculum Overview

Student Life

  • House Leadership and Community Service: Rhetoric students become or continue as members of one of the school’s houses. Through the Arma Dei Academy House system, students serve in leadership roles, mentor younger students, compete against one another in athletics, and partner with community service organizations to contribute many hours of community service.
  • Galas and social events center around the joy of experiencing the countries, cultures, and the time periods students have studied.
  • Important Events: The culmination of the Arma Dei Academy School of Rhetoric education includes a senior thesis presentation and a capstone trip where students experience first-hand some of the history and heritage they have studied in class.
  • Athletics & Conditioning (coming)
  • Arts (coming)

Rhetoric Student Service Hours: Philosophy and Policy
Arma Dei Academy’s overarching objective relative to students is to equip them “to live purposefully and intelligently in service to God and others.” “Service” may be defined in multiple ways, but for Christians, “service” receives its proper definition from Jesus Christ, “who,”
Scripture reminds us, “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,” and ultimately “humbled himself… to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

True service, we learn from Christ’s perfect example, possesses at least three definite characteristics. Firstly, it meets genuine needs. Christ’s incarnation and death met our deepest need as human beings: the need for forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation with the God who created us for relationship with himself. Christ did not assume human nature or suffer the humiliation of the cross for sport (as it were) or to serve himself in any way. He assumed human
nature and endured the cross to serve us. Thus Paul, in encouraging believers to emulate Christ’s sacrificial service, reminds them first and foremost to consider “the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4) over their own interests. The others-oriented nature of true service necessarily undermines our innate, sinful orientation toward self-gratification and self-fulfillment, which orientation present-day Western culture tends to reinforce rather than subvert.

Secondly, true service is costly. Christ’s service to us cost him rather significantly. It cost him, first of all, the dignity and comfort that properly belonged to him as the Second Person of the Trinity. It cost him, ultimately, his very life as the God-man. True service, to put the matter in other words, is inherently sacrificial in nature.

And true service, finally, elicits joy both in those who serve and in their heavenly Father. Jesus, the author of Hebrews reminds us, endured the cross “for the joy set before him.” The Apostle Paul, throughout the book of Philippians, repeatedly names the joy that belongs to him as one who has served others through his calling as an apostle, which calling he fulfilled at great cost to himself but great benefit to others (see, for example, Philippians 2:17). Paul also, of course, names the Father’s pleasure at his Son’s sacrificial service to us. “Therefore,” he writes, with a view towards Christ’s sacrificial service to us, “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9; cf. Ephesians 5:2). Paul’s words are intended to remind believers who embrace “the mind of Christ” and serve others (as Christ has first served them) that their own sacrificial service is likewise pleasing to the Father and will end in their own exaltation and glorification.

As Arma Dei Academy students enter the Rhetoric stage of their education, our efforts to shape them “for lives of service to God and others” grow with them. We seek, increasingly, to equip them to recognize, at their own initiative, the breadth and depth of others’ needs (whether physical, mental, or spiritual). We push them, increasingly, to sacrifice something of value to themselves – time, energy, emotions, etc. – to meet others’ needs. We remind them, increasingly, that their service pleases their Heavenly Father, and we invite them to embrace the deep joy that comes through sacrificial service, which joy, we know, invariably trumps the fleeting pleasures that self-gratification and self-service provide.

We accomplish these purposes through multiple initiatives in the Rhetoric school; for example, through identifying opportunities to serve Arma Dei Academy faculty and staff or Grammar and Logic students, through inviting local Christian ministries to visit Arma Dei and introduce their work to our students, through, Deo volente, facilitating an international Missions trip for Rhetoric students at the conclusion of their 11th-grade year, etc.

Our policy on Rhetoric student service hours also serves to deepen our Rhetoric students’ appreciation for the nature of true service, and so to properly equip them for lives of service to God and others.

Policy: Rhetoric students at ADA must complete a minimum of 25 service hours per year as a graduation requirement. Students may complete 50% of their required yearly service hours “in- house” (that is, by helping out with maintenance needs, assisting Grammar or Logic level teachers/students, etc.). The remaining 50% of their hours must be completed with local churches and/or charitable organizations outside of Arma Dei Academy. Service hours may be
completed over the summer months and applied either to the academic year recently completed or to the academic year pending. To maximize the benefit and impact of service on students, they must also submit a 500-750 word reflection paper each year (due August 1st) on service they have completed during the year. In those reflection papers, students must summarize the service they performed and describe what they learned about God, themselves, and/or the
nature of Christlike service to others (its benefits, challenges, etc.) from the service they performed.

Annually submitted reflection papers on service will be put to additional use when students begin the process of applying to colleges/universities for further study, insofar as the colleges/universities to which they apply will want to see both a record of service and reflection on the contribution that service made to a student’s growth and development as a person.

May God use Arma Dei’s efforts to equip students for lives of service to God and others to advance his Kingdom and extend God’s love in concrete ways to a world in need of truth, love, and grace!

Rhetoric Service Tracking Form

Volunteer Organizations for Student Service Hours

Alumni Life Outcomes (from the Good Soil Report) The Good Soil Report is a 2018-19 comparative study of 24-42 year old alumni from public, secular private, Catholic, evangelical Christian, religious homeschool, and ACCS (classical Christian) schools, on topics of life-choices, preparation, attitudes, values, opinions, and practices. This research seems to confirm what history has repeatedly demonstrated – classical Christian education can influence the course of a home, a community, or a nation.

Beyond College, Alumni Outcomes Differ Greatly Because Of Their K–12 Experience 

As adults, ACCS (Association of Classical and Christian Schools) alumni think and live in a markedly different way than their peers from other educational models. Nearly 90% of them attend church at least 3 times monthly, and they participate in other church activities at a higher rate. They are 2.6 times more likely to pray alone and 6.7 times more likely to be readers. While they do not give more money overall, they are much more likely to believe they have the obligation to give. They stand out as they seek jobs that fulfill their religious calling, and they prioritize pay at a much lower rate than other groups (which may explain the giving). ACCS alumni have healthy families. While they report no significant difference in marital satisfaction from the other segments, they are much more likely to hold to traditional beliefs about marriage than their Christian school counterparts. And, this shows in their lives. They have much lower divorce and cohabitation rates compared to the other groups. They send their kids to Christian schools at a higher rate, and they volunteer more.

ACCS alumni are more grateful, more hopeful, and more trusting than their peers from other types of schools. And they are willing to sacrificially serve wherever they are called.

In our communities, ACCS alumni are the best prepared academically, more than double the next highest group. They respect the authority within the church, and are more likely to believe the Bible is infallible, and much less likely to believe it has errors with regard to science and history. They are less likely to accept gay marriage. All of these beliefs are complimented by a much higher rate of knowing LGBT people and atheists, and respecting scientists. Their ability to think for themselves despite their personal relationships is evident when these facts are considered together. Finally, they are the most influential group of alumni as adults by the widest margin of all the profiles. 

These results are predicted for those who have studied paideia and its impact through classical Christian education whenever it has been practiced. The results of this survey reinforce this historical evidence.

A full report can be downloaded at

Arma Dei Academy is pleased to offer its Rhetoric classes to local homeschooling students in high school. By participating in as many as three Rhetoric classes per year at Arma Dei, your student will have the opportunity to:

  • Experience a positive and joyful classroom culture
  • Form friendships with peers in a Christian environment
  • Pursue the possibility of dual credit through Colorado Christian University
  • Have the option to join social events, PE days, retreats, and academic capstone trips

Course of Study

A minimum of 1 & maximum of 3 of the below classes may be taken per year:

  • History
    • Ancient History
    • Medieval & Early Modern European History
  • Literature
    • Introduction to Classical Literature & Philosophy
    • Renaissance & Early Modern Literature
  • Bible
    • Theology I: Christ and Creeds
    • Theology II: Medieval Christianity & the Reformation
  • Science
    • Biology & Biology Lab
    • Chemistry & Chemistry Lab
  • Math
    • Geometry
    • Algebra II
    • Pre-Calculus
  • Latin – Requires prerequisites and approval from Dean of Rhetoric

Students interested in taking History or Literature must register for both, as they are taught concurrently. Space is limited in each course.

All of the courses listed above (excluding Geometry) have been approved or are in the application stage for Dual Credit through Colorado Christian University.

Extracurricular Activities

Students may also participate in extracurricular activities and events. These include quarterly PE days that range from mountain climbing to Scottish dancing and snow sports. Students also attend overnight retreats and camping trips at the start of the school year, and each grade has a capstone academic trip either abroad or within the US. Additionally, there are multiple opportunities each semester for students to participate in social events like escape rooms, country line dancing, and other gatherings that cultivate fellowship and friendship. Students may also choose to participate in Arma Dei sports and/or clubs.

Additional fees apply for these optional activities; please inquire if interested.

Application Process

The application process is the same for all Arma Dei students and requires an application, references, and family interview. Students must meet prerequisites and have approval from the Dean of Rhetoric. Contact with any questions.

  • Cost: $2,700 per each year-long class
    • Dual Credit Enrollment is an option for most courses at the price determined by CCU
    • Financial Aid is not available
  • Additional Information:
    • Students must wear an Arma Dei school uniform, including formal chapel uniform on Mondays
    • Parents and students must adhere to the Parent-Student Handbook


Arma Dei Academy seeks to admit mission-appropriate students who aspire to live the portrait of a graduate. Rising and entering students need to meet a standard of academic qualifications to thrive in an Arma Dei School of Rhetoric education. Academic readiness will be based on a school of logic/middle school transcript, achievement tests, and results of the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE). Minimum academic readiness would be demonstrated by the above data, confirming students are average to well above average in academic ability. The Arma Dei Academy School of Rhetoric seeks to balance its high standards of admission with the unique situation of each applicant.

Our Admissions office is here to serve you during this process. Please call (303) 346-4523 or email with your questions.

Why is Rhetoric class only taught in 11th and 12th grades?
Students will study formal rhetoric in 11th and 12th grade, but in other grades, across subjects, they will begin the process of engaging with texts and winsomely persuading their audience in speaking and writing. In 11th grade, the formal study of rhetoric gives students a deep understanding of the use of communication in speech, civic engagement, advocacy, and all forms of social interaction. In 12th, they will have the opportunity to research and write a thesis, culminating in an oral speech and defense.

Why are there no alternatives to Latin until 11th grade?
Students will be required to complete 3 years of a foreign language. At Arma Dei, all students will take Latin I, II, and III. If students have taken 7th and 8th grade Latin at Arma Dei, they will enter the School of Rhetoric with 1 credit of Latin already. Thus, in 11th grade, many students will be free to study another foreign language. The foreign language offerings at the upper grades are still under consideration.

What is the deadline for the application?
While there is no deadline, we are capping admission to 9th grade at 16 students. Beyond that, students who apply and are accepted will be put on a waitlist. If you desire a classical Christian education for your rising 9th grade student at Arma Dei Academy, please do not delay beginning the enrollment process. Please see the Important Deadlines on Arma Dei Academy’s website here.

Are there be uniforms?
Yes, the School of Rhetoric wears uniforms. They are differentiated from the Schools of Grammar and Logic. Arma Dei maintains a separate Monday chapel uniform across grade levels.

What is the homework philosophy for the School of Rhetoric?
In the School of Rhetoric, as in Arma Dei’s Schools of Logic and Grammar, homework is viewed as an opportunity for students to engage with what they have learned and to prepare for the coming day. While being diligent in our pursuit of academic rigor, we also want to be intentional in encouraging our students to rest, pursue extracurricular activities, and have time with their families outside of the classroom.

Time spent on homework at the 9th grade level, therefore, will be comparable to that of 8th grade, with perhaps a slight increase. Of course, completion of homework varies for each student according to their aptitude and focus.

Will the School of Rhetoric keep the House System?
Yes! The School of Rhetoric seeks to provide opportunities of servant-leadership and mentorship to its students. To that end, the House system will be implemented in both the Schools of Logic and Rhetoric. We will expect students in the School of Rhetoric to become culture-creators by participating in service outside of and beyond Arma Dei, in the broader community.

How does the School of Rhetoric use technology?
Arma Dei recognizes the utility of technology, especially as students get older. There will be a gradual increase in the use of technology. Students in the School of Rhetoric will have the opportunity to bring their laptops to school, or use the school’s resources,
when researching, writing papers, or preparing other assignments.

What is the policy on phones, laptops, smart watches, etc. be different in the School of Rhetoric?
Students will not be permitted smart watches or phones on their persons during the school day. Laptops will be utilized judiciously. While the School of Rhetoric recognizes and desires that older students have greater responsibility, it is not necessary for students to have their phones accessible during the day.

How are the academics be different from Valor, Regis, Lutheran, etc?
Students experience a unified core and liberal arts curriculum; an education focused on the Great Ideas and Great Conversation; and the opportunity to obtain college credit while taking Arma Dei academic courses. Most teachers in the School of Rhetoric hold advanced degrees. All of these distinctives fall under our Mission Statement, which states that Arma Dei seeks to provide an excellent classical and Christian education founded upon a biblical worldview.

Are there extracurricular activities like sports or theater?
Yes, the School of Rhetoric offers Drama, Golf, and Cross Country. 

The following comments are from current Arma Dei Academy parents.

“The classical Christian education my children have received at Arma Dei Academy holds a great track record; we must continue. We must finish the course.”

“Arma Dei Academy must complete what they have begun; grammar, logic, and now our students need training in rhetoric level learning.”

“We want an excellent high school with biblical perspectives; one that really aims at training disciples.”

“There are no other options for our priorities as a family; to provide what we really want for our students.”

“We have so much confidence in the direction of this school; it would be more of an experiment to go somewhere else.”

School of Rhetoric Questions?
Dr. Aaron Denlinger, Dean of Logic and Rhetoric Schools

Admissions Questions?
Lora Hollaus, Director of Community Engagement
You may begin the application process at

School of Rhetoric Pamphlet (download)
Good Soil | The Classical Difference (video)
Association of Classical Christian Schools

It is no wisdom to make boys (and girls) prodigies of information; but it is our wisdom and our duty to cultivate their faculties each in its season, first the memory and imagination, and then the judgment; to finish them with the means, and to excite the desire, of improving themselves, and to wait with confidence for God’s blessing on the result.  –  Thomas Arnold (1795-1842)