Notable aspects of the Western Academy experience include the number of recesses and amount of time allocated for physical exercise, as well as the freedom the boys are given. There are two recesses per day: a short recess in the morning and a longer recess after lunch for play. Each grade also has a separate P.E. period. Recess and physical education are necessary breaks in the intense academic routine and are also necessary for development of the virtues taught through sports - such as courage, discipline, working for a team goal, and good judgment. They also provide healthy occasions for less formal exploration or more imaginative play.
Freedom is a vital component of the play and overall tone of the education at Western Academy. This freedom may include climbing trees, building wood forts, playing tackle football, or enjoying exploration of the wooded areas. Freedom is necessary not only to develop authentic moral virtues, but also for establishing real intellectual habits. We find that good behavior should not merely consist of exterior manners that please adults, but should connect with the interior, the heart of the person who truly desires to do good things. Similarly, learning is not a game of grades and getting ahead, but should involve genuine interest, wonder, and a search for truth and wisdom. Western Academy places an emphasis on the personal responsibility and mutual respect inherent in the genuine freedom the boys are allowed to enjoy.