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Saint John’s Prep Welcomes a Newly Enhanced Curriculum

Our Board of Regents approved a new strategic plan last spring to further develop our curriculum, faculty, and learning experiences. As a college prep school that takes great care in maintaining high academic standards within a supportive and nurturing environment, we are tremendously excited for this opportunity to grow as an institution, and expand our identity as an arts and sciences world school.

After careful curricular review and in-depth discussions with our faculty, along with guidance from selective colleges and universities across the country, we have made some strategic changes to our curriculum. These changes will provide every student with more opportunities to pursue college-level courses at our partner institutions — the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University —  as well as AP courses and other learning opportunities.

Our new Aspire to Excellence (A2E) curricular framework will launch in the fall of 2022. While this pathway contains many new approaches for our school, it is fully aligned with our mission and is informed by the Catholic Benedictine values and traditions we hold dear. Starting in 9th grade, our students will experience this newly enhanced curriculum that reflects our ongoing commitment to create, recognize, and celebrate learning.

The Seven Foundational Learning Goals

All curriculum at Saint John’s Prep rests on the same foundational learning goals, and A2E is no exception. These seven goals define the curricular and co-curricular experience we provide and represent our pledge to students and families:


Learning and growth are the key components of student work and life at Prep. Our students engage in wide-ranging work in a well-rounded college preparatory program that is grounded in the liberal arts. We encourage students to strive toward excellence by taking ownership of their own learning as they develop their own unique talents and passions to help them reach their fullest potential.


We believe that spiritual reflection and growth are vital to a student’s personal formation. Students are provided with opportunities to reflect on their spirituality as they work to understand how prayer, work, service, and play are integral to strengthening faith.


We focus attention on our needs as humans to live in a community with one another, and provide opportunities to develop relationships and social skills through co-curricular and extracurricular activities.


The Benedictines commit themselves to bringing people together in a community to support one another and the world. Our students reflect this commitment by using their talents and energy in service to the common good. Through unique service opportunities, students are able to recognize injustice, grow in empathy, and take action to create a more just world.


We believe that all students are bestowed with the gift of creative expression. We take tremendous pride in providing opportunities for students to express their creativity in every discipline.


The Benedictine tradition of hospitality and respect reminds us that we are called to be welcoming to all. We provide our students a wealth of opportunities to discover their own identity, while encountering values and cultures distinct from their own.


At Saint John’s Prep, students are given learning opportunities that help them experience global cultures on campus and through international study opportunities. By engaging with the world at large, our students are encouraged to develop their awareness of social responsibility as well as a greater sense of the world and their place within it.

THE A2E Curriculum

The A2E curriculum will offer students a wealth of opportunities to put their foundational learning goals into action, and is designed to help them succeed at world-renowned institutions of higher education. The curricular framework in which they will operate will have three key components:

Foundation Curriculum

This curriculum consists of the minimum graduation requirements as laid out in the Student/Parent Handbook. Our graduation requirements exceed Minnesota state requirements for graduation and are consistent with admission requirements at more selective colleges and universities. At this time, no changes have been made to our foundation curriculum.

Academic Distinctions

Students will have numerous opportunities to achieve distinction in any of Prep’s eight academic disciplines: English and literature, visual arts, performing arts, social science, physical and natural sciences, mathematics, world languages, and theology.

To earn academic distinction in these disciplines, students must do the following:

  • Complete four merits beyond minimum graduation requirements in a particular discipline. Merits can be earned through additional coursework, experiential learning activities, and other co-curricular activities as outlined by each academic department.
  • Attain a GPA of 3.50 or higher within a discipline during junior and senior years.
Students In Music Class

These requirements are designed to be somewhat flexible, and allow students to choose a path to success that best suits their learning styles, talents, and interests. For example, a student who has a talent for creative expression might earn merits through tutoring in our Writing Center, publishing their own work, participating in our 1000-page Summer Reading Challenge, performing in the orchestra, and the like.

A student with a talent for science and mathematics might earn merits through an independent math project, taking calculus or statistics at one of our partner schools, taking additional advanced classes, earning an exceptional score on an AP-level exam, et cetera.

We are tremendously proud to provide our students with such a variety of ways to challenge themselves, explore their passions, and earn these distinctions in a way that fuels a lifelong desire to learn and grow.


Honors is our highest level of distinction for students who demonstrate exceptional academic and intellectual depth and achievement. To graduate with honors, a student must obtain the following:

  • Three disciplinary distinctions
  • A faculty-advised Senior Capstone based on a combination of research, original coursework, writing, and presentation
  • An honors-designated knowledge and truth course
  • A composite GPA of 3.75 or higher during junior and senior years

What Can Saint John’s Prep Offer Your Child?

While Saint John’s Prep is dedicated to constantly evaluating our academics and identifying ways we can offer students more, much of what we have to offer will never, ever change. Located on 2,900 acres of woodlands and wetlands that inspire curiosity and kinship with nature, our campus also has state-of-the-art fine arts and athletics facilities. Beyond rigorous academics, we believe that a student who is well-prepared for college is also one who understands their skills and passions, and who has the maturity and discipline to succeed in the path of their choosing.

If you’re curious about what our school could offer your child, there’s no better way to find out than to schedule a visit. You’re welcome to explore our beautiful campus and get a feel for our tightly-knit community. We’ll provide plenty of opportunities for your child to make new friends, sit in on classes, and connect with members of our faculty.