Visual & Performing Arts Overview

Visual & Performing Arts Overview

“The Visual and Performing Arts Program at Park gave me the space to explore mediums I had no idea I was interested in. I came to Park with a strong passion for film and went on to study film at NYU, but I don’t know that I would have felt safe and supported enough anywhere besides Park to try being on stage, to try ceramics, and to try new approaches in film. Making art is more often about feeling challenged than feeling safe, but I always knew the Park community supported me just enough to risk being challenged.”

–Blake Pruitt ’11
 Tisch School of the Arts, New York University ’15

Program Design and Philosophy

At Park, the arts are an essential part of our daily lives. They frame our experience of the world, serve as vehicles for personal expression, and enhance our exploration of history, culture, and heritage. Our students experience the arts as painters, actors, dancers, and musicians, as audience members, critics, and teachers. Art is often part of teaching and learning in other subjects. Art is everywhere in the school.

In Kindergarten through eighth grade, a sequenced and developmental program in visual and performing arts emphasizes expression, design thinking, creativity, and skill mastery. In the Upper School, the arts program provides opportunities for advanced study and accomplishment in several art disciplines.

Special programs and performances bring artists to our community. An Exhibitions Program brings several shows by visiting artists of national reputation to the school each year. Students in all grades meet and work with local and national artists, create works of art that address similar themes, and hang their pieces in a complementary exhibition.

Residencies, assemblies, and trips to museums, theaters, concert halls, and studios provide additional opportunities for students to learn from visual artists, musicians, dancers, and actors.

Park Arts Student Working


 Wyman Arts Center

The Wyman Arts Center houses facilities for performing and visual arts for all divisions. This 3-story, 44,500 square foot facility includes: 

  • 4 visual arts classrooms
  • photography studio with 16 stations
  • ceramics and sculpture studios
  • 2 digital imaging labs
  • Garry Cerrone MakerSpace
  • 4 music classrooms
  • 8 practice rooms
  • keyboard lab 
  • recording studio
  • black box theater
  • dance studio
  • rehearsal studio
  • arts library
  • exhibition gallery
  • art history classroom
  • arts conference room

Ukeleles in the Middle School - Park Arts

Arts Curriculum

Lower School

Visual Arts: one 75-minute class per week
Music: two classes per week (Orff, Kodaly, Delcroze, and an instrumental music exploratory)

Options: Chorus—Grades 4 and 5, Concert Band—Grade 5, Vocal and Instrumental Music—after-school group and individual lessons for all grades, Percussion Ensemble, and Band

Faculty: two full-time and two part-time music and art teachers

Middle School 

Grades 6 and 7—Visual Arts, Music, and Theater in trimester rotation; classes meet four times per week  

Grade 8—Visual Arts, Music, and Theater electives; students elect one course per semester, which meets four times per week 

Options: Chorus, Vocal and Instrumental Music lessons, String Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble 

Faculty: three full-time and one part-time music, art, and theater teachers

Upper School 

Four semesters are required for graduation.

Visual Arts Electives

Drawing, Painting, Design, Figure Drawing, Graphic Design, Architectural Model Making, Photography, Digital Photography, Art History, Film Studies, Film History, Metalwork, Woodworking, Ceramics, Sculpture, Art History, Junior Portfolio, and Senior Studio

Performing Arts Electives

Accelerated Music Theory, Music Technology, Music Performance, Beatz, Electronics for Musicians, Acoustics, Audio Production, String Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Parksingers, Eightnotes, Vocal Chords, Madrigals; Fall, Winter, and Spring Theatrical Productions; Acting, Advanced Acting, Character and Comedy, Set Design, Directing, and Keyboarding

Facultysix full-time and four part-time music, art, film, and theater teachers

Performing at a collegiate level is not simply an extra-curricular; it requires an abundance of time and mental energy. This in combination with academic demands can become overwhelming. It is important to understand that the study of performance is directly related to all academic endeavors. At The Park School, we had opportunities to take Shakespeare classes co-taught by English teachers and directors, forcing the students to think about the text as both a dramatic work and a piece of literature. That concept of wholistic learning taught me to bring my individual knowledge and experience to every facet of my life, allowing me to be a more versatile performer.

—Drew Tildon ’11
Northwestern University ’15

 Arlecchino and the City of Love - Park Middle School Production

Arts Achievements

Interest and Support 

  • more than 90% of Upper School students enrolled in arts classes or programs annually 
  • 30% of Upper School students involved in music performance groups and drama productions 
  • Arts Program directed by full-time Director of Arts

Performance Opportunities 

  • Two Upper School jazz ensembles and a string ensemble 
  • Upper School Parksingers Chorus and three acapella groups: Eightnotes, Vocal Chords, and Madrigals 
  • Performance Choruses for Grades 4 and 5 and Middle School 
  • Middle School jazz ensemble and a string ensemble 
  • Fifth Grade Concert Band 
  • Lower School Percussion Ensemble 
  • Four theater productions per year in Upper School with sets designed and constructed by students 
  • Eighth Grade full-scale production, part of the Middle School arts rotation 
  • Additional plays directed and produced by students


  • Students are accepted to nationally recognized arts colleges, theater programs, and music conservatories, including RISD, Pratt, MICA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Oberlin Conservatory, Cooper Union, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, California College of the Arts, Berklee College of Music, and Northwestern University
  • Students submit art portfolios as part of application to liberal arts colleges
  • 30% of alumni report that arts were very important to them while at Park
  • 25% of alumni participate in arts programs in college
  • 10% of alumni are involved in the arts as a professional career, many nationally recognized for professional accomplishments

Lower School Art Students