Chesterton Academy of St. Michael

St. Michael Academy Files Legal Challenge to State of Michigan High School Closure Order

PETOSKEY – December 14, 2020 – St. Michael Academy (SMA), northern Michigan’s only Classical Catholic high school, announced today that, on Friday, December 11, it filed a lawsuit against Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Director Mr. Robert Gordon, challenging the recent order by the State of Michigan calling for the continued closure of Michigan high schools, which first went into effect on November 18, and was then amended and modified on December 7 to extend through December 20.

The lawsuit was filed on the school’s behalf in U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan, by the Thomas More Law Center of Ann Arbor, which specializes in pro bono religious liberty cases.

The lawsuit contends that the shutdown order violates the school’s right to the free exercise of religion under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.  The complaint also requests the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order, allowing the school to reopen while its legal challenge is considered by the Federal Courts.

The SMA Board of Directors has authorized this action, recognizing that the mission of the school – the education and formation of its students within the rubric of the teachings of the Catholic Church and the classics of Western Civilization – can only be fully accomplished in-person as a faith community.

“We believe that live, in-person, worship and instruction is essential to our mission and is best for our students and families,” stated SMA Headmaster Dr. Richard Brake.  “We’ve proven our commitment to balancing the health and welfare of our students with the necessity of live worship and instruction, which allows us to provide education, formation, and witness to Christ.  The implementation of our Re-Opening Plan for the current school year has been tremendously effective, with zero cases of Covid-19 at the school among our students and staff.”

“All we are asking from the Federal Courts is to be allowed to continue what we’ve started, especially given our contention that our fundamental constitutional right to the free exercise of religion is being irrevocably harmed by the State’s closure order.  We pray that wisdom and prudence will prevail, and that we will once again open for in-person instruction so we can continue to enlighten our students, model virtue for them, worship with them, and all throughout, joyfully spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The SMA mission is to nurture a new generation of joyful leaders educated in the classical tradition and the truth of the Catholic faith.  As both a college prep and “heaven prep” school, SMA seeks to elevate a new generation of students, filled with a sense of awe and wonder about God’s creation, encouraging them to look beyond the temporal and mundane towards the eternal and transcendent.  In this way, students are taught to contemplate the “permanent things” which can be found in the master works of Western Culture and the Catholic Church.  It is an intellectual trip through Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem, with the ultimate destination being a greater understanding of the Author of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: God.

Established in 2013, St. Michael Academy is the first Catholic high school in the Little Traverse area since 1972, and the region’s only Classical high school.  SMA strives to develop the next generation of American leaders by promoting a culture of excellence and instilling its students with the classical virtues of wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice, along with the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love.

For questions about St. Michael Academy and/or its legal challenge, please contact the SMA Headmaster, Dr. Richard A. Brake, at

Scroll to Top