Religious Studies


Goal One of a Sacred Heart education is to “educate to a personal and active faith in God”. Forest Ridge is a rich and diverse faith community where students are invited to celebrate their own faith traditions and are welcomed into the celebration of Catholic traditions.

Our students learn the history, traditions and spirituality of the Catholic Church and what it means to be a Child of the Sacred Heart. Middle school students learn about the scriptures, sacraments and the Liturgy of the Mass. Students also explore the origins, beliefs and practices of the major world religions including Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. High school students are offered continued studies on the Catholic faith and a variety of unique classes including Sacred Art and Exploring Global Cultures.

As an extension of our faith tradition, we value acts that enrich our greater community. Service is a founding principal of a Sacred Heart education. Goal Three of a Sacred Heart education is to “educate to a social awareness which impels to action”. Beginning in 5th grade, each Forest Ridge student takes part in community service with their classmates.

Click here to learn more about Service Learning


Middle School: 5th-8th Grade

Grade Five

Students in fifth-grade religion begin by exploring their images of God and discussing how their ideas of God are similar regardless of their faith traditions. They examine how God has been revealed to people through the creation of the world and its people. Students learn about foundational beliefs of the Catholic faith, and they are encouraged to consider how beliefs affect the moral decisions they make each day.

They also examine the elements of personal health and well-being and consider how these elements influence their interactions with family and friends. Through the study of the sacraments and the Liturgy of the Mass, students learn about how Catholics celebrate the continuing presence of God in their lives.

Throughout the year, students contemplate how they are called to pray. They read scripture, participate in preparing prayer services and/or liturgies and celebrate the liturgical seasons of the church. Through individual and group activities, students are encouraged to grow in their understanding of their relationship with God and with one another.

Grade Six

Students in sixth-grade religion begin the year by exploring the nature of religion in general. Students learn what it means to be a Child of the Sacred Heart and to be a part of a community steeped in the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with an emphasis on prayer, feast days, and Sacred Heart heritage.

Forest Ridge is a rich and diverse faith community, and students are invited to celebrate their own faith traditions and be welcomed into the celebration of Catholic traditions. Exploring the Bible and how Catholics read the Bible, with an emphasis on Hebrew Scriptures, is an important element of sixth-grade religion.

Students also learn about the origins, beliefs and practices of major world religions, including Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. In conjunction with their spring experiential leadership trip to Camp Orkila, students reflect on stewardship of creation. Classroom resources include the Breakthrough Bible, How Do You Spell God? and History Alive.

Grade Seven

The seventh-grade religion course explores the person of Jesus as encountered through the Gospel of Mark. Students learn about the historical context into which he was born and use this information to dig more deeply into his parables and gain a deeper understanding of Jesus’s mission and deep love for the people who are most vulnerable in society. They begin exploring pertinent themes in their own lives, including service and resurrection. 

Through the Gospels and personal reflection, students come to understand the attitudes of the heart of Jesus (generosity, compassion, respect and forgiveness) expressed in Goal One of a Sacred Heart Education. The course also examines the concept of peace, both through prayer experiences and in the context of nonviolent interactions. Students learn about people who, like Jesus, have made peace a choice in their lives and who have tried to increase peace around the world. In class throughout the year, students will notice an emphasis on written reflection, class participation, clear and respectful communication, small group discussion and project-based learning.

Grade Eight

A commitment to community service is the focal point of the eighth-grade religion program. Students participate in weekly service to the larger Seattle/Bellevue community beginning the second semester and continuing through the end of the year.

In the classroom portion of this course, students study Catholic Social Teaching and related topics, such as the dignity of the human person, poverty, homelessness, rights of workers and global issues. Each girl also spends time reflecting on her service experience in order to understand it in the broader context of what she is learning in the classroom.

Throughout the year, students are also given the opportunity to participate in personal and communal prayer.

High School: 9th-12th Grade

Graduation Requirement: 4.0 credits (8 Semesters) with a minimum of 0.5 credits taken Senior year

Exploring Global Cultures

Year-long/Required

Please note that this is a two-period, cocurricular class.

This integrated course fulfills both the social studies and religious studies requirements for the 9th grade year.

Developing a nuanced understanding of different cultures means developing religious literacy–these are intertwined, fundamental elements of these two disciplines. Students examine multiple perspectives as they deepen their understanding of the world around them, past and present. By bringing two subjects together, students build a framework to analyze the religious and social justice dimensions of social, political and cultural life and to apply these skills to global issues such as human rights, the environment, and world health.

In this course, we seek to examine and critique our own lenses, recognizing that Forest Ridge is a Sacred Heart School in a U.S. context and to explore the diverse ideas that shape our increasingly interconnected global community. Skills developed include understanding human geography, textual analysis and interpretation, inquiry, discussion, research, writing and personal reflection. Students engage in case studies, seminar discussions, creative and real-world writing assignments, Model UN and other debates.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 9
Credit earned: 1.0 Social Studies and 1.0 Religious Studies

Foundations of Life in Christian Community

Year-long/Required

Sophomore year begins with an intimate study of the life and mission of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of John. With the Paschal Mystery as the central focus, students examine the earliest Christian attempts at living out the teachings of Jesus as told in the Acts of the Apostles and the New Testament Letters.

With a foundation in the beliefs, challenges and model of the earliest Christian Church communities, students analyze the past and contemporary life of the Catholic Church to identify the ways in which the teachings and Paschal Mystery of Christ is lived and proclaimed. Students explore the dynamic and diverse nature of humanity, encounter the ways this same nature shapes the Catholic Church and face the realities of people who gather as a community founded by Christ.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 10
Credit earned: 1.0 Religious Studies

Ethics, Social Justice, and World Religions

Year-long/Required

Having already learned about Jesus Christ and how his mission is lived out in the Church, students are now prepared to tackle some of life's biggest questions: How can people live according to Christ's teachings? What teachings do people from other religious traditions live by? How do religious beliefs and choices made according to those beliefs impact others? What is social justice and why is it my responsibility? What role does social justice have in modern issues today?

Using the Catholic Church's rich tradition, students study famous thinkers, official church teachings and writings, and current day issues to learn how to make moral and ethical decisions. The class explores the major religions of the world and how they relate to the Catholic Church, identifying the important spiritual and communal truths that exist in non-Catholic traditions. Emphasis is placed on the role of religion in global politics, economics, cultural and social issues in the modern world.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 11
Credit earned: 1.0 Religious Studies

Sacred Art

One Semester

Many of the greatest masterpieces known to humankind were created out of a desire to understand, celebrate and share an understanding or connection to the divine. Throughout the semester, students study the various eras of Christian art (Early Christian, Celtic, Baroque, etc.) as well as produce their own piece of art for each unit. Focus is on themes such as art as sacramentals, sacred space and architecture, and sacred symbolism seen throughout history.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 11, 12
Credit earned: 0.5 Religious Studies

Sacred Heart Leadership

One Semester

Our world desperately needs leaders who embody what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Rooted in kinship, students actively engage in direct service in response to the needs of the local and Forest Ridge communities. As servant leaders, students lead by example not only in their volunteerism off campus, but also in their support of Campus Ministry initiatives by intentionally cultivating relationships at Forest Ridge through the development of authentic opportunities for communal reflection, prayer and retreat experiences. Students actively live the Goals and Criteria of the Sacred Heart as they develop servant leadership skills in a variety of service and ministry settings.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 11, 12
Credit earned: 0.5 Religious Studies

The Catholic Imagination

One Semester

Catholics believe that God is radically present and active in our world, not aloof and distant. In this course, students explore the Catholic imagination by focusing on themes such as the incarnation, sacramentality, the problem of suffering, redemption, joy and grief. We explore these themes through Catholic authors such as Thomas Merton, J. R. R. Tolkien and G. K. Chesterton. We also investigate how the Catholic world view is portrayed through such popular films as The Mission, Shawshank Redemption and The Truman Show. Students engage in critical conversations, Socratic Seminars and film reviews.

Prerequisite: Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church and Sacraments
Grade level: 11, 12
Credit earned: 0.5 Religious Studies

Climate Change: Interdisciplinary Perspective

One Semester

Rapid climate change is one of the most significant moral, political and scientific issues facing our world. Future leaders and citizens need to engage in interdisciplinary thinking to address this problem appropriately. Students in this co-taught Religious Studies elective will do just this as they examine rapid climate change and its social, political, spiritual, and environmental consequences through both religious and scientific lenses. Course topics will include theories of knowledge, the science of climate change, national and international policy, religious environmentalism, climate change and social justice, and the religious roots of contemporary perspectives on climate change. Students will engage in lab work, discussions and seminars, reflective writing and innovative problem-solving as they apply the foundation they have gained in previous Religious Studies and Science courses to this global issue.

Prerequisite: 11th grade Religion
Grade level: 12
Credit earned: 0.5 Religious Studies