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Bringing Catholic Classical Education to South-Central Wisconsin

Early in the 21st century, several Madison, Wisconsin-area families sought to establish a classical high school based on profound love of Jesus Christ and his Church. Their inspiration was Pope St. John Paul II’s vision for an educational environment rooted in a shared belief in the dignity and purpose of every human being. St. Ambrose Academy was established in 2003.

St. Ambrose opened in September 2003 with classrooms located on Cardinal Stritch University’s Madison campus. In 2004, St. Ambrose Academy at the invitation of Msgr. Terry Connors, the school took residence in the education wing at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish after the Most Reverend Robert Morlino, Bishop of Madison, formally recognized St. Ambrose Academy as a Catholic school. This generous donation of space was a profound gift for a young school and remains one of the most significant sources of support in the Academy’s history. 

Deepening Roots in the Madison-area Community

Over the past two decades, the seed planted by the founding families in 2003 continues to blossom.

As the school developed, more mission partners were attracted to the powerful combination of strong academic and spiritual formation. This gave the Academy the ability to continue hiring highly qualified teachers and staff to advance the mission further and increase the quality and breadth of opportunities for students in and out of the classroom. 

With this growth, the commitment of the founders to ensure a high-quality Catholic education to all who sought it, regardless of ability to pay, remained intact as generous benefactors supported families from all backgrounds. This commitment to generous tuition assistance has ensured that a Catholic education remains accessible.

In addition to the Academy’s refinement of its high-quality curriculum, increased opportunities for extra-curriculars were added to enhance the growth and development of the whole person. Team sports, cross country, musical theater, and other extracurriculars like band, debate, and more given students new ways of refining skills, practicing virtue, developing friendships, and many other benefits. The Academy created partnerships with Abundant Life Christian School, Madison Country Day, and St. Maria Goretti Catholic School to offer more senior high team sports including girls’ and boys’ basketball, girls’ volleyball, boys’ and girls’ soccer, co-ed track & field, co-ed golf, and boys’ eight-man football. 

Though operating independently of any parish, St. Ambrose Academy collaborates with the Diocese of Madison’s Office of Schools and has relationships with many local Diocesan parishes and schools. We are blessed by relationships with many local Diocesan priests who contribute to the spiritual lives of our families and who participate in the life of the Academy by offering the Sacraments, occasionally presenting on areas of their expertise to students in the classroom, and other much-appreciated offerings of their time. 

A Growing Impact

From humble beginnings, graduating its first two students from senior high school in 2006, St. Ambrose has grown as a 6-12 school with nearly 200 students. As enrollment grows, so does our body of alumni, young men and women who are taking the gifts of a Catholic classical education and applying them to vocations and diverse careers. 

After graduation, 95% of St. Ambrose Academy alumni have continued on in higher education, being accepted to institutions include Princeton University, Oxford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Southern California, seminary studies for the Diocese of Madison, Boston College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Belmont Abbey College, the University of Dallas and other prestigious institutions.

Together, this broader community of families, supporters, and friends are building a culture of virtue, through students and graduates who are exceedingly ready to engage a divided world with joy, resolve, and a heart modeled after Christ. Our graduates are engaged in society, leading lives as faithful Catholic parents, Catholic priests and religious, and civic-minded community leaders. 

Their leadership in the law, education, the arts, medicine, and other aspects of society are bringing the light of Christ into a world hungry for truth, beauty, and love. 

A Bright Future

As we look ahead to the future of St. Ambrose Academy, we are filled with a joyful hope that God has called us to be a part of the lives of young people as they are building a foundation for lives rooted in the Lord.