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The Arts are Essential

The Arts are Essential
PRS Arts Department
If you tune into the academic programs at Pacific Ridge School, you will often hear the phrase "Arts are Essential" — a reminder that the most effective kinds of 21st century education include visual and performing experiences at their core, not simply as "extra" or occasional activities. Studying the arts is one of the best ways to encourage kids to build problem solving and critical thinking skills, develop confidence, and express who they are.

Most traditional academic programs focus on input: students are absorbing information, gathering data, and being taught how to perform. In areas of art, students are asked to show up in hands-on learning. They experiment, make mistakes, and discover their own voice through their work. The arts are essential because they provide spaces where students are able to focus on output, on exploring and refining how they wish to share their values and vision.

Pacific Ridge incorporates the arts into its curriculum so each student can explore subjects and media that they may never have tried before. In middle school, students rotate through various visual and performing arts classes each trimester. After this sampling of experiences, students can better appreciate the joys and challenges of everything from welding to acting to filmmaking. Choosing a year-long arts experience for high school and perhaps discovering a new passion also becomes easier after trying a bit of everything.

"PRS values the arts as vital to our academic program because they allow students to cultivate indispensable skills in critical thinking, creative problem solving, and personal expression. The careers of the present and future will demand these kinds of skills, and the arts can help prepare students for challenges ahead, whether they are in biotech or urban planning or education or civil rights."
— Alison Behr, PRS Arts Program Chair
The arts program centers around creative risk-taking and experimentation, often collaborating with other departments in the Innovation Center and Arts Center.
At PRS, the arts and sciences integrate with each other naturally, allowing students to extend and connect their creativity across the traditional boundaries of "science" and "art."
In addition to the central curricula, Upper School students can combine their interests by taking trimester-long SHTEAM electives, which stands for science, humanities, technology, engineering, arts, and math. One such course is Surf & Skate, in which students design and build custom, eco-friendly boards, integrating sports, physics, chemistry, and visual art. Some students created skateboards using designs they made in their year-long studio art class. Through these unique academic experiences, students learn that projects are more than just assignments — they are opportunities to explore passions, connect a range of subject they study, and test out real-world applications and future careers.
"The PRS arts program heightened my creativity and time management by balancing art projects, classes, college application, and even extracurriculars! Through my involvement in Showcase of the Arts and Open Arts Club, I honed the skill of innovative thinking and exploring unconventional approaches to my projects. The arts program has played a role in developing my self-confidence with public speaking as I led a team of inspiring artists in our Ceramics Club. PRS has cultivated a vibrant atmosphere of community and collaboration, with the program and teachers actively fostering teamwork and encourage joint efforts."
— Danna Bundogji '23


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