The Arts

students playing drums and watching demonstration
beginning school art paint handprints
post it note art stuck on wall
student's hands water color painting
lower school students in black box theater rehearsing play with guest director
two students playing xylophones birds eye view of hands
teacher laughing with student in theater costume sewing class in front of sewing machine

From early humans painting together on cave walls to sitting around a campfire singing, the arts build and bring together communities. They are essential to telling the stories of the individual and the group as a whole; trying to understand the past; reflecting the now; and imagining the future—broadening each students’ world along the way.

From preschool through the senior year, the arts program builds on each other and are taught in an environment of trust and respect that enables creation and performance, integrating and make connections throughout all disciplines. Students learn to observe and appreciate the world around them and reflect it out to others through artistic mediums. Making art makes artists, and as artists students learn to think critically, problem solve, and take risks that are essential to growth.

lower school student and teacher working on puppet making project

Beginning & Lower School Arts Program

In the Beginning School, students practice being artists in a community space with peer artists. Research suggests that engaging in music play provides important stimulus for young children. Singing together in a group is a powerful tool for creating empathy for others and a greater sense of community, so a key component of Beginning School music is to experience musical play that helps young children build a musical community. Visual arts are a means for young children to express themselves, their thinking, and their learning. In addition to creating their own art, students practice sharing their artwork as well as seeing and responding to peers’ works. All of this leads to conversations about creations, working process, inspiration, problem solving, persevering, strengths, and challenges.

The joy and challenge of engaging in the creative process is highly valued and is at the heart of the Lower School art program. All Lower School students learn instrumental work, singing, drama, dance, creative movement, and improvisation. Through these experiences students are exposed to music from many cultures, giving them a window into understanding how music reflects the lives and values of other people. The Lower School arts program values risk taking, innovation, craftsmanship, collaboration, respect for others’ work, and engaging in a broad range of mediums, concepts, techniques, and ideas.  Many projects are integrated with homeroom social studies, science, language, woodshop, and other specialist classes. 

dale rawls working with student on ceramics wheel

Middle School

In Middle School, students learn to use the arts to facilitate the expression of creative ideas, learn about and share a diversity of cultures, and communicate their own personal visions. They learn to express themselves creatively, both individually and collaboratively, and gain confidence in presenting themselves and their work, as they develop a framework for making informed creative choices.  Along with broader choices in woodshop, music, and visual arts instruction, students also rotate through theater arts and media arts. Performing and presenting their art helps build confidence in speaking before audiences. Students learn to collaborate across artistic mediums, such as the band providing accompaniment for a theater production, and visual artists helping in the creation of set pieces. Students are able to conceive of original creative works and execute them with confidence and competence. They begin to understand how art can offer a broader perspective on and invite empathy with a single story.

rock band class students playing instruments and singing

Upper School

While continuing to build on previous years learning in music, visual arts, woodworking, and theater, in Upper School students have a broader exposure to a wide range of arts including architecture, fashion design, jewelry making, structural design and engineering, and theater tech. Students continue to collaborate across mediums, but also across disciplines looking at, for example, the intersection of art and activism, connecting form with function, using statistics and design science to determine structural stability, and the role of music in social justice movements. They also have opportunities to write music and plays, direct shows, and learn the art of film making. Students who want to continue their art education after graduation may take portfolio courses, designed to help them prepare portfolios and reels for college admissions. Regardless of where their futures take them, the arts foster communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity that help them develop 21st-century skills and allow them to flourish and thrive in their schools, communities, and professional lives.