Visual and Performing Arts Academy

Visual and Performing Arts Academy students who have an interest in the arts may select courses that prepare them for postsecondary advanced studies or for a faster entry into arts-related occupations. The balance between artistic development and academic preparation is at the heart of the Academy program. Students are exposed to the humanities and have the opportunity to select a course of study that will best meet their needs and interests.

The Academy is organized into five strands:

  • Visual Arts
  • Instrumental Music
  • Vocal Music
  • Dance
  • Theater
  • Mixed Arts

Students will view each strand through the lens of four components:

  • aesthetic perspectives
  • creative expression
  • culture and history
  • analysis and criticism

While students will select one strand on which to focus, they will be encouraged to explore more than one area of the arts. All strands emphasize performance and exhibition. Literacy is stressed across the curriculum, and all aspects of art are incorporated throughout. In addition, students enrolled in the program explore the cultural influences within the arts and the impact of the arts on history.

The arts strands’ focus is on developing the students’ understanding of the artistic concepts that serve as the foundation for future development of aesthetic judgment. Students apply knowledge and understanding of the elements of style, form and cultural heritage in order to, perform, create and defend their artistic choices accordingly. Students concentrate on their own special interests and compare and contrast social, ethnic and cultural influences on the arts. As students learn about the individuals who contributed to the area and time period of the art form studied, they form personal choices from a variety of historic periods.


"Inspiration, Creation and Realization" are the theme of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy. The Academy is designed to:

  • offer an interdisciplinary curriculum of differentiated academic and applied instruction in the arts;
  • develop individual talent and interest;
  • instill an increased awareness of cultural literacy and the value of the arts in society; and
  • provide varied opportunities for performance and exhibition.

Students may earn either an Advanced Studies Diploma or a Standard Diploma based on the options available in the various curricula. Core courses (English, mathematics, science and social studies) are required of all students in the Academy including the honors and advanced placement course options as well.

Most students focus on one strand of the arts and have the option to take courses in more than one of the five strands. During their senior year, students take a course entitled, “Senior Synthesis.” This course integrates all the strands in required performances and projects. Through their four years in the program, students attend “topic” seminars and master classes which will be held periodically throughout each school year. These seminars can serve as a basis for an internship as part of the seminar course in the students’ senior year. Students are also expected to participate in presentations and exhibitions during their four years at the Academy.

The visual arts strand provides consistent instructional opportunities for students to examine a wide range of forms that are natural and man-made and to create art work using the elements and principles of design. Students’ interests in individual artists and their art forms are encouraged, and they study careers in applied and fine arts

Students taking classes in the dance strand develop an awareness of the body as an instrument of expression. They refine their skills in dance technique and choreography and increase their ability to move creatively and spontaneously. Exposure to great works of art allows students to analyze the special characteristics of noted performers, choreographers, critics and impresarios, as well as understand how these individuals have shaped the history of dance.

In the theater strand, students learn to create, perform, analyze and critique dramatic performances. Class work becomes formalized with the students participating in theatre, film, television and electronic media productions. As careers and performers are studied, students develop a broad world view.

Students involved in the music strand develop an understanding of music composition, theory and production. Through the refinement of their technique, students increase their ability to identify the components of musical sound which enhance their capabilities for composing and performing. In both musical strands, students explore career possibilities in music education, music composition and music business.

For detailed course descriptions and a sample student schedule, please refer to the Secondary School Curriculum Guide.

For additional information please call the Academy Coordinator at 757.648.5650 ext. 85673, or email Amy Schuiteboer at Salem High School.