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Despite headlines detailing funding issues and lack of art education in the school system, Atlanta manages to thrive with a wealth of opportunities for metro students passionate about the arts. Education with foundations in the arts can also help students succeed. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, students who study art are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and three times more likely to be awarded for school attendance.
Fortunately, because metro Atlanta’s private schools are diverse in their range of art disciplines and mediums offered, you’re sure to find a school that fosters your child’s unique interests and passions. From visual to performing arts and everything in between, here’s a look at the schools paving the way for the area’s young artists.
Mount Paran Christian School
Mount Paran Christian School (MPCS) fosters creativity as early as preschool and extends to high school graduation. The school’s programs help students explore their passions, as well as provide a vehicle for the training of academic minds and creative thinkers. “Hands-on experiences open the neural pathways used for math, science and language arts. These highly valued programs run the gamut, from various orchestras and bands to vocal ensembles, dance, drama, technical or musical theater, visual arts, recording arts, graphic design and photography,” says Amber Irizarry, Communications Content Specialist at Mount Paran Christian School.
MPCS programs are also award winners, including Governor’s Honors, All-State and Shuler Hensley Awards. Additionally, its Dozier School of the Arts gives students the chance to engage in a unique curricular arts magnet program through mentorship and change leaders in the arts. Students can choose from dance, acting, technical theatre, recording arts, vocal music, instrumental music, theory and composition, worship arts, recording arts, 2D/3D visual arts and graphic arts.
The Walker School
From Primary to Upper School, the Walker School inspires and challenges young students both individually and collaboratively. Its visual arts program helps students embrace the creative process, cultivate their aesthetic awareness and expand critical problem-solving skills. Students are taught by educators who are also practicing painters, sculptors, musicians, writers and directors. What’s more, Upper School level students have opportunities to join gallery exhibitions outside of Walker, as well as participate in musical and theatrical competitions and festivals. Instrumental and vocal ensembles from Lower School to Upper School have performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City and at the Grand Ole Opry, Downtown Disney, Universal Studios, Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, the Governor’s Mansion and more.
“At Walker, we believe in experience over the applause, with the caveat that it truly is a quality experience. We offer the most professional atmosphere possible in an educational setting,” says Karen Park, Director of Communications and Marketing at The Walker School.
The Galloway School
Freedom is a value at the Galloway School, where students are encouraged to pursue their passions and interests, whether through music, dance, theatre or the visual arts. For instance, the school’s Middle Learning and Upper Learning students are given the opportunity to access media arts courses, a relatively new discipline in most schools. Students take their pick from podcasting, video and film composing, screenwriting, gaming and virtual reality design and computer-assisted design.
Additionally, and of particular interest to creative-minded students who enjoy performing, the school’s Chaddick Center for the Arts includes a 300-seat theatre and dance studio, which includes a fully equipped performance area. Upstairs, students can learn more about music from the choral and instrumental classroom or record student music in a soundproof recording booth. Teachers also encourage students to refine their skills using The Galloway School’s multimedia technology center, which provides access to 3D printers.
King’s Ridge Christian School
King’s Ridge Christian School offers a unique co-curricular program in the arts, which offers classes ranging from academic college preparatory options to professional-level arts. Regardless of the chosen art form, King’s Ridge Christian School offers training through the lens of a religious perspective and culture. After a regular school day, students join their chosen art elective. The immersion classes include dance, instrumental, theatrical, TV/Film, visual arts, vocal arts and worship arts. Students walk away from the experience with the skills for creative expression and critical thinking. King’s Ridge Christian School also hopes students will discover their unique purpose and calling within a religious context.
North Cobb Christian School
North Cobb Christian School (NCCS) excels at award-winning arts programs from Preschool K3 through 12th grade.
“At NCCS, each student is guided to discover, develop and display their unique talents, including routine opportunities to travel, bringing their gifts to platforms across the world,” says Elizabeth Cossick, Director of Marketing and Communications at NCCS.
Student ensembles also perform in Ireland, Hawaii, New York, Nashville, Disney World and Dollywood, as well as at various choral and visual arts festivals.
From Lower to Upper School, each division of NCCS has its own dedicated musicals that are designed to help students refine their performance skills, as well as an option to pursue their passions at the collegiate level. All of NCCS’s instructors have a background in their field of instruction and continue pursuing their own skills and talent in their personal and professional work beyond NCCS.
Lyndon Academy’s students strengthen their skills as students and creatives through a variety of projects. “Every year, the students in Lyndon Academy’s Art Department work on several projects, in different mediums, designed to expand their creative abilities and instill enthusiasm and appreciation of the visual arts. As their teacher, I hope that working on these art projects serves as a confidence-building process that can provide each student with greater self-esteem and a stronger understanding of their own strengths,” says art teacher Aubree Metlick.
For example, specific projects include a 3D pumpkin project for Jr. Kindergarten through fifth grade, with different mediums introduced based on the grade level. For example, second grade students are introduced to and use chalk pastel for the first time. More complex projects for middle and high school students include research into different illustration styles to create a “LIFE Behind the Glass” project; students experiment with new watercolor and pen and ink shading techniques for results that impress kids and adults alike. And these visual arts opportunities are offered in addition to an array of other options, from band and chorus to drama, all of which are used to help students strengthen their overall capacity to learn.
Mount Pisgah Christian School
Mount Pisgah Christian School (MPCS) goes beyond offering arts, music and theater to ensure a well-rounded education for metro Atlanta students.
“The fine arts program at Mount Pisgah is really about developing creativity as a special kind of intelligence,” says drama teacher Daniel Hilton, who also serves as the Fine Arts Department Chair.
MPCS works to develop and hone visual arts talent, as well as performing ensembles, including chorus, band, orchestra and drama. However, the school also helps students ages 4 to 18 focus on the creative process and not just the finished product. MPCS students, who begin their visual arts education in Kindergarten and enjoy additional instruction in theater, orchestra, band and chorus starting in the fifth grade, learn how to investigate, interpret and respond to the challenges of an ever-changing world.
Students also have the opportunity to express themselves creatively after school through the Mount Pisgah Arts Academy, which is open to the community-at-large as well. Esteemed instructors teach music, art, drama and dance, and student achievements are celebrated throughout the year with on-campus and community performances. “Our goal is to foster creativity, confidence and Christian fellowship through arts education,” says Katherine Thomas, MPCS Arts Academy Director. Private lessons are available in piano, voice, violin and guitar; students also can participate in dance team, majorette twirl and music makers.