Our History

The history of Chesterton Academy of the Willamette Valley goes back to 2008 in the State of Minnesota.  Seeing the need for a classical education in the Catholic tradition, a grassroots movement of parents decided to launch Chesterton Academy of Minneapolis. Starting with just 10 students the Academy now enrolls nearly 150 students in grades nine through twelve. Based on the school’s success, a network of schools was started in collaboration with the American Chesterton Society to provide other parents and communities with an educational model and the tools to be successful. Click here to read a recent article about the Chesterton Schools Network by the Cardinal Newman Society.

The purpose of Chesterton Academy is to nurture our children’s minds and souls through an integrated education. We believe that all truths are related to the central truths of the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Faith and reason do not contradict one another, nor are they to be segregated from one another. Through the study of art, music, literature, language, history, mathematics, science, philosophy, and religion, we want to prepare our children to think both rationally and creatively, to defend their faith, to contribute positively to society, and to promote a culture of life.  As G.K. Chesterton said,

“A dead thing goes with the stream; only a living thing can go against it.”

G.K. Chesterton represents not only the ideal of a complete thinker, but also a modern cultural warrior. At the beginning of the 20th century, he foresaw and addressed many of the destructive trends that have continued into the 21st century. As a recognized defender of the Catholic faith, a literary genius, and a stellar example of Christian charity, Chesterton is a perfect model on which to develop an integrated education. We are preparing our children for both temporal life and eternal life: to be good citizens and to be saints.

How did this idea of education make it to Oregon? The happy Chestertonian truth is that juicy steaks and fine wine brought the idea to the Willamette Valley. Every year at St. Joseph’s Parish in Salem, people gather for the Chesterton Steak and Wine Dinner. The Dinner features a delectable meal and a great Catholic speaker. Usually Dale Ahlquist delights us, but Joseph Pearce and Christopher Check have also come to inspire and instruct. Through attending the annual dinner and Mr. Ahlquist’s enthusiasm, many of our current Directors discovered the exciting and successful model in Minnesota.

Uniting a love of the Willamette Valley with a vision for a sustainable classical school in the Catholic tradition, Chesterton Academy of the Willamette Valley was born on May 29, 2016, the 142nd anniversary of G.K. Chesterton’s birthday.

The Academy’s Board of Directors are building on the model begun in Minnesota in a unique way. Our hope is that in addition to providing an outstanding classical education in the Catholic tradition, interested students can get their hands dirty—literally—on the Academy’s commercial farm, which will not only help keep tuition low but also pay for scholarships, activities, and other educational programs. This element of agrarian living, integral to Chesterton’s view of a well-ordered society, is for the Academy a dream worth the sacrifice to make reality.  We invite you to see the idea and difference the Agrarian aspect can make. Click here to learn more.  The Director’s desire is to share this vision of education and culture with all who serve Christ  in the Willamette Valley.  May we heed the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola:

“Teach us to give and not count the cost.”