Summa Cum Laude Program

Summa Program Logo

Based on the Latin expression to indicate academic distinction for “the highest of honor,” a three-year honors program called the Summa Cum Laude is offered by Bishop Chatard for the advanced college-bound student.

The ‘Summa’ program offers the most challenging and rewarding course of study available at Bishop Chatard to the top academically motivated students. Faithful to the mission of Bishop Chatard High School, the program encourages involvement and leadership in extracurricular activities and service by focusing on the growth and development of the whole person.

This three-year program will challenge and prepare the most gifted college-bound individuals for a successful postsecondary career.

Goals of program

The Summa Cum Laude student will:

  • COMMIT to an intensive course of study at the highest academic level offered by the school;
  • ACHIEVE the highest standards of academic success as demonstrated by school exams and standardized testing;
  • PARTICIPATE and be a leader in the life of the school and the community;
  • ENGAGE in the Christian Service Program beyond the minimum requirements;
  • ATTAIN and sustain no less than a cumulative 4.0 GPA.


Students who have demonstrated a 3.85 GPA at the end their freshman year may apply for acceptance in the program in the fall of their sophomore year.

Benefits of the Program

The “Summa” Program:

  • Emphasizes advanced study in areas of special interest to the student and personal attention to progress and projects offered by the Summa Cum Laude Council
  • Gives colleges and universities the opportunity to assess a student’s performance against the most academically challenging program of the school
  • Creates opportunity for advanced placement or college credit based on the results of the AP exams
  • Offers mentoring by Summa Cum Laude advisors
  • Gives students the opportunity to earn as many as 21 college credits while attending high school, thereby reducing college tuition costs.

The emphasis on the study of foreign language prepares students for a global future, and the choice of AP courses allows students to emphasize the arts or sciences as their special interest.

The commitment to retreats, service and some level of archdiocesan involvement promotes the faith development of the student and engenders respect and regard for the need to help others.

Selected members of each graduating class will be invited to participate in the Summa program. This program is designed to challenge students who desire a more rigorous course of studies than the one provided by the state’s academic honors diploma. Interested students should talk to their counselor regarding eligibility requirements as well as reading the information below.
Students are invited to apply for the program at the beginning of their sophomore year. In order to receive an invitation to participate in the program, the following steps are required:

  • Submit the Summa application.
  • Obtain one teacher recommendation.
  • Demonstrate a cumulative 3.85 G.P.A. by the end of freshman year. Have a 4.0 cumulative GPA by the end of sophomore year to continue.
  • Be enrolled in a foreign language course
  • Be in good standing with regard to absence and discipline.
To participate in Summa Cum Laude program, the student must:

  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 4.0. One probationary semester below 4.0 is permitted.
  • Complete all of the courses required for an Indiana Core 40 with Academic Honors Diploma with a minimum of five Advanced Placement courses;
  • Study three years of Spanish, Latin or American Sign Language (if available)
  • Attain a composite score of no less than 1200 on the reading and math portion of the SAT exam or 27 on the ACT exam;
  • Complete the BCHS Christian service requirement plus an additional 10 hours of service per year.
  • Participate in the sophomore, junior, and senior retreats;
  • Demonstrate commitment and leadership in no less than two extra-curricular activities per year of which only one may be athletics;
  • Maintain good standing with regard to absence and discipline;
  • Successfully prepare and defend the Summa senior thesis;
  • Participate in a choice of cultural, artistic, or religious activities that must include at least one archdiocesan retreat, pro-life activity, youth rally, or youth service project.

Summa Cum Laude Program of Study

A Summa student is encouraged to experience a variety of academic challenges while at Bishop Chatard. The following honors classes are among those a Summa student may want to consider scheduling to meet the requirements of this honors program. A Summa student is encouraged to experience a variety of academic challenges while at Bishop Chatard. The following honors classes are among those a Summa student may want to consider scheduling to meet the requirements of this honors program.


  • Honors English 10
  • AP English: Language & Composition
  • AP English: Literature & Composition
  • Elementary Composition: W131 (ACP/Dual Credit)
  • Literary Interpretation: L202 (ACP/Dual Credit)


  • Honors Geometry
  • Honors Algebra II
  • Honors Pre-Calculus
  • AP Statistics
  • AP Calculus

World Language

  • Honors Spanish II
  • Honors Spanish III
  • Honors Spanish IV
  • Honors Spanish V
  • AP Spanish
  • Honors Latin III
  • Honors Latin IV

Social Studies

  • Honors U.S. History

  • AP U.S. History
  • AP World History
  • AP European History
  • AP Psychology
  • AP Government
  • AP Macroeconomics
  • AP Microeconomics


  • Honors Anatomy & Physiology
  • Honors Chemistry
  • AP Physics
  • AP Biology
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Enviornmental Science

Fine Arts

  • Honors Chorus 3 / 4
  • Honors Band 3 / 4
  • AP Studio Art
  • AP Art History
  • AP Music Theory

Updated November 2014

Summa Cum Laude Senior Thesis

The Summa senior thesis may be an original written work or a creative endeavor, such as an experiment, investigation or some type of community service project. If a student chooses to pursue a written project, the paper must show evidence of impressive research, followed by a significant amount of original interpretation or conclusion. Alternatively, a creative endeavor must lend itself to a report that is distinctly academic.

  • Step 1: The Summa Cum Laude candidate will choose a subject area of interest. This may be as specific as a hypothesis used for a science experiment or as general as area of study, such as French or computers.
  • Step 2: The candidate asks a teacher to serve as his/her senior thesis advisor. Exceptional circumstances may allow a non-BCHS teacher to be the thesis advisor. The advisor must be approved by the Summa Cum Laude committee, and one teacher may advise no more than two students.
  • Step 3: The candidate and teacher work together to create a proposal that will be submitted to the Summa committee by October 15.

    The proposal should include the following elements:

    1. One paragraph that outlines the premise of the paper, project or creative endeavor
    2. A list of seven to ten sources that will inform the project (printed sources, Internet sources, individuals, audio/video sources) — one source must be an expert in the field, but not the faculty advisor
    3. One paragraph which explains the rationale for the candidate’s choice of topic and direction
  • Step 4: The Summa committee will approve or reject proposals. A deficient proposal may be improved and re-submitted.
  • Step 5: Work ensues on the thesis.
  • Step 6: Candidates will submit a progress report to their faculty advisors by January 25, 2023. In the case of a paper or creative project, this will take the form of a rough draft. In the case of a community service project, it will be a written update.
  • Step 7: The advisor reviews the thesis progress statement thoroughly, suggesting improvements and additions he/she deems appropriate.
  • Step 8: The final product is presented to members of the Summa committee for review by March 21, 2023. In the case of some kind of event, it must be scheduled to take place sometime before that date. The committee will convene to rank the thesis in one of three categories: Below Standard, Acceptable or Extraordinary. If the thesis falls short of the appropriate standards and receives the Below Standard rank, the candidate will be given two weeks to make revisions, with the guidance of their faculty advisor.
  • A candidate whose thesis receives the Acceptable or Extraordinary rating remains eligible for the Summa Cum Laude program.
  • The senior thesis project will be placed on display for the wider community to examine.
The following thesis topics were explored by the Class of 2022 Summa Graduates:

  • PEYTON BEAN: Examination of the Effectiveness of Teaching Handwriting to Children in Schools
  • SARA BORLAND: An Analysis of the Data related to the Bishop Chatard Sports Network
  • PATRICK COUNTRYMAN: Effect of Obedience on NFL Unsportsmanlike Conduct Rules
  • JACQUELINE FIGURA: Sugar: Addiction, The Effects on the Body, and Breaking Addiction
  • OWEN FISCHER: The Creative Process of Writing a Novel
  • ALEXANDRIA GANTZ: The Efficiency of Multitasking
  • JAMES HAAS: Why Continued Funding of NASA is Necessary
  • WILLIAM HASBROOK: Are Humans Inadvertently Causing the Destruction of Animal Life?
  • DEIRDRE HOSTETTLER: The Role of Social Justice in the Catholic Church through the Lens of Catholic Social Teachings and how that applies to the Modern World
  • SAMUEL KOERS: The Folly of Standardized Tests
  • MADISON LOISELLE: A Study of Medical Illustrators and Medical Illustration on Post Tibial Tendonitis
    Sports Injury
  • NATALIE PRISER: Student Perception of Service Hours and Impact of both Service on Students and Service Ministries on Bishop Chatard
  • MARY SOWINSKI: Examining the Prevalence of Eating Disorders in the Female Running Community
  • CORBIN WENTWORTH: The Effects of Climate Change on Humans and the Environment