Nick Holzberger, center, and fellow fourth-graders at St. Jerome Classical School, which emphasizes classical education. From left are Isaiah White, Mary Miller, Joseph Teti, Bryant Azoroh, Dasean Jackson, Casey Carroll, Jacob Falcone and Alex Edgecombe.

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Nick Holzberger, center, and fellow fourth-graders at St. Jerome Classical School, which emphasizes classical education. From left are Isaiah White, Mary Miller, Joseph Teti, Bryant Azoroh, Dasean Jackson, Casey Carroll, Jacob Falcone and Alex Edgecombe.

Leigh Davis/For The Washington Post

Michael Murray's fourth-graders and their pet bunny, Sisyphus, named after the figure in Greek mythology. St. Jerome's was once a traditional Roman Catholic elementary and middle school. Now it's one of a handful of archdiocesan Roman Catholic schools in the country to have a classical curriculum.

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Michael Murray's fourth-graders and their pet bunny, Sisyphus, named after the figure in Greek mythology. St. Jerome's was once a traditional Roman Catholic elementary and middle school. Now it's one of a handful of archdiocesan Roman Catholic schools in the country to have a classical curriculum.

Leigh Davis/For The Washington Post

Students review translations in Elizabeth Turcan's sixth-grade Latin class. \

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Students review translations in Elizabeth Turcan's sixth-grade Latin class. "Classical" education aims to teach virtues and a love of truth, goodness and beauty. Students study the arts, sciences and literature starting with classical Greek and Roman sources.

Leigh Davis/For The Washington Post

Merrill Robert's nature studies class builds telegraph machines out of plastic, paper clips, batteries, wire and electromagnets.

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Merrill Robert's nature studies class builds telegraph machines out of plastic, paper clips, batteries, wire and electromagnets.

Leigh Davis/For The Washington Post

Fourth-graders, from left, Alexandra Chichester, Bryant Azoroh, Aaron Webb and Joseph Teti discuss Plato.

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Fourth-graders, from left, Alexandra Chichester, Bryant Azoroh, Aaron Webb and Joseph Teti discuss Plato.

Leigh Davis/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

Second-graders in Molly O'Leary's class work on a grammar lesson. Classical theory divides childhood development into three stages known as the trivium: grammar, logic and rhetoric. In the \

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Second-graders in Molly O'Leary's class work on a grammar lesson. Classical theory divides childhood development into three stages known as the trivium: grammar, logic and rhetoric. In the "grammar" stage (kindergarten through fourth grade), children memorize facts, learn phonics and spelling, recite poetry and learn other building blocks.

Leigh Davis/For The Washington Post

First-graders, from left, Liliana McGee, Chioma Agbim, Lexi Mayers and Kelis Gorham recite one of Aesop's fables in \

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First-graders, from left, Liliana McGee, Chioma Agbim, Lexi Mayers and Kelis Gorham recite one of Aesop's fables in "reader's theater."

Leigh Davis/For The Washington Post

Students learn such subjects as Latin and Aristotelian logic at St. Jerome Classical School. The school began its transition to a new classical curriculum last spring.

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Students learn such subjects as Latin and Aristotelian logic at St. Jerome Classical School. The school began its transition to a new classical curriculum last spring.

Leigh Davis/For The Washington Post

Third-graders arrive for music class, in which music teacher Michelle Orhan discusses the nine Muses who are daughters of ancient Zeus.

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Third-graders arrive for music class, in which music teacher Michelle Orhan discusses the nine Muses who are daughters of ancient Zeus.

Leigh Davis/For The Washington Post

Orhan's students identify medieval musical instruments.

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Orhan's students identify medieval musical instruments.

Leigh Davis/For The Washington Post

Orhan's fourth-grade music class practices a hymn.

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Orhan's fourth-grade music class practices a hymn.

Leigh Davis/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

Class projects on the wall outside Connie Barnes's third-grade classroom. \

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Class projects on the wall outside Connie Barnes's third-grade classroom. "The classical vision is about introducing our students to the true, the good, the beautiful," Principal Mary Pat Donoghue says. "So what's on our walls are classical works of art. You won't see Snoopy here."

Leigh Davis/For The Washington Post

We defined what we meant by 'classical' in very Catholic terms,\

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We defined what we meant by 'classical' in very Catholic terms," says Michael Hanby, a curriculum committee member and a professor at the John Paul II Institute at Catholic University. "It was not just a method but an incorporation into the whole treasure of Christian wisdom, which includes that of Christian cultures. Our students would get a coherent understanding of history, literature, art, philosophy -- the traditions to what Catholics in the West are heirs.

Leigh Davis/For The Washington Post