Subiaco Academy is a private, Roman Catholic, boarding school, owned by the corporation entitled: “Subiaco Abbey,” the religious community of Benedictine monks at Subiaco Abbey, Subiaco, Arkansas. The Benedictine Order in the Catholic Church, to which Subiaco Abbey belongs, evolved from the “Rule” written by St. Benedict of Nursia in Italy in the early sixth century. The education of youth in some form has been a significant part of the apostolate of Benedictine Monks since that time…almost 15 centuries. Hence, Subiaco Academy has a rich tradition of educating young men.
The school came into existence as a result of the German migration to the Arkansas River Valley in the 1870’s and especially in the 1880’s and 1890’s. The Little Rock-Fort Smith Railroad Company had thousands of acres of free land in the area. They had resolved to sell this land only to German Catholic settlers, if possible. This company approached the Swiss Benedictine Monks in Indiana to send missionaries to Logan County Arkansas in 1878. These monks brought with them their Swiss Benedictine heritage of a monastery school. Until the First World War, numerous additional monks and recruits from Switzerland strengthened this educational tradition.
In 1887 the monks opened a school, called St. Benedict’s College, to educate young men between the ages of 14 and 20 in the basic humanities (see photos). There were never more than 20 students in this school and it was terminated in the summer of 1892. The monks reorganized this educational project that summer, and in the fall, the school was reopened as a seminary to train students for the ministry. This school was called The Scholasticate. Modeled upon European “Gymnasium” lines, it consisted mostly of classical languages and musical training. This form of the school reached its peak with some 70 students in 1901 when the institution was largely destroyed by fire
By the spring of 1902, the school reopened in its present location, in a stone building that had already been under construction when the 1901 fire occurred. The name was changed to Subiaco College. This school comprised a six-year program, still modeled on European lines, with three courses of study: classical, scientific, and commercial.
In December 1927, the institution was again destroyed by fire, but a primitive school, Subiaco Academy, was reopened in February 1928, in what was left of the Main Building. This school barely survived the Depression Years.
During World War II, enrollment soared, but it was only after 1945 that Subiaco Academy was able to begin expanding its physical plant. In 1952, a classroom building was completed; a fitting campus church was dedicated in 1959; a guest house was opened in 1963; a stadium in 1965; a fieldhouse and dorm building in 1966; a new library in 1967 and the Performing Arts Center in 1978. In the summer of 1992, the old, open dorms of the Main Building became air-conditioned, semi-private rooms. The Health Center, expanded from the old Infirmary, was completed for students and monks in January 1996. In the summer of 1998, the classroom buildings were renovated and air-conditioned; in the summer of 1999, the art building, the student dining room, and the Student Union were renovated and air-conditioned.
In the 1960s, when the vast majority of Subiaco’s students were enrolling in college, Subiaco Academy became college prep and was admitted to the North Central Association in 1968.
The earliest administrators and teachers were all Benedictine monks. By the time of the First World War, there were one or two male lay teachers. Hired coaches were added after the mid-1920s. The great number of non-monk staff (teachers and administrators), including female faculty members, came only in the mid-1970’s. We monks continue our commitment to the Academy by providing nine monks who serve in various capacities at the Academy. We are richly blessed by teachers and staff that endeavor to communicate by their words and actions a sense of the spirit of St. Benedict, as expressed in his rule: a respect for the value of work, development of personal talents to serve others, a sense of peace and fraternity, self-discipline, trust, and an appreciation of the Christ centered nature of monastic communities.
Subiaco Academy is unique in the state of Arkansas in that it is the only such Catholic boarding school and in the fact that the vast majority of its students board at the school. Almost half of these young men come from outside the state as well as from several foreign countries. Today the School is internationally recognized as a boarding & day school dedicated to providing young men in grades 7-12 with the opportunity for a college preparatory education in a stable and structured environment nourished by Christian values.
If you would like more information about our Academy, click on the link that follows. Our Abbey has sponsored the Academy for over 130 years, staffed it with monks of our monastery, and is proud that it bears our name.
For more information about our Academy, simply click on Subiaco Academy to be taken directly to the Academy’s web site.