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Upper School Visual & Performing Arts

  • 2D Studio Art

    Do you love to draw or paint?  Then this course is for you! We will focus primarily on the use of two-dimensional materials such as pencil, charcoal, pastels, colored pencils, watercolor and acrylic paint, collage, and printmaking.  The class will be made up of a mix of 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. Students will sketch, design and execute 2D compositions. Students will work on written and group critiques as part of their formal assessments.  A wide range of styles and techniques will be addressed in regards to the development of the different media and each student's artistic expression. Prerequisite: Intro. to Visual Art.
  • 3D Studio Art

    This course is geared toward students interested in developing their three-dimensional artistic sensibilities.  Students work on sketches and sculptural models, design and execute 3D compositions, and participate in written and group critiques as part of their formal assessments.  By touching on many time periods and cultures, students come to understand different movements in art and the artists that influenced the changes we see in art today. The students are challenged to use familiar materials in new ways as well as learning more about ceramics and mixed media sculpture.  Work in this class enhances discussion of the overarching philosophical questions being studied across the curriculum. Prerequisite: Intro. to Visual Arts
  • Advanced Acting and Directing

    The major product of this class is a full-length play, which students perform, design and technically direct.  In the fall trimester, students begin the year with an intensive overview of all production elements, as well as attend a series of performances in the area, some of which will feature rehearsals and backstage tours. Meanwhile, actors continue to hone their acting skills, deepen their exploration of theater history and expand their theatrical repertoire, reading fours plays by December.  After winter break, having chosen the play they wish to produce, the class decides on a production team, casts the play and spends from February through April rehearsing, designing, implementing and critiquing designs. The production follows in April. In the final few weeks of this course, students read and see one final play together, experiment with voiceover and commercial scripts, and prepare a contemporary monologue for audition purposes.
  • Advanced Digital Photography

    This course expands on the fundamentals taught in the introductory Digital Photography class. Students learn more complex methods of shooting and manipulating images, as well as sophisticated conceptual approaches to extended projects.  Each major project requires students to produce a series of cohesive images and a written artist’s statement. The class includes both digital and analog media and emphasizes the development of a personal creative vision.
  • Advanced Topics in Design

    This honors course is the continuation of Graphic Design 1 and 2. Students will focus primarily on conceptual qualities in their work, more than specific technical skills, examining contemporary art/media challenges, and analyzing real world examples to then create dynamic design solutions of their own.  We will more closely consider social and ethical implications of their work, the role of design in society, and the obligations of artists to their communities. Projects will be larger and more individualized than in previous design classes, and will rely on students outside interests and experiences to guide content for pieces. This class produces a diverse range of products in many mediums, allowing for more opportunities for real world experience and creative problem solving. Projects and topics rotate so that students can take this course more than once for credit.
  • AP Art History

    This college-paced course is a survey of global art and culture from prehistory through post-modernism.  We explore the wide range of visual expressions by various civilizations. While Western art is the primary focus of the survey, cultures from Africa, Asia, and the Americas also factor prominently into the course and provide crucial opportunities for the discovery and discussion of cross-cultural influences.  Special emphasis is placed on political, social, and religious influences, as well as global trends. Through readings, discussions, presentations, slideshows, and field trips, students develop a finely tuned art vocabulary, keen powers of perception, and incisive visual analysis skills. Students also create original studio projects in order to better appreciate the technical and creative challenges involved in making art.  Students will take the A.P. exam at the conclusion of the course. Note: This course is only open to juniors and seniors.
  • AP Music Theory

    AP Music Theory is the ultimate academic challenge for high school musicians. It is an opportunity for our most advanced musicians to excel academically and prepare for college-level music coursework. This course incorporates critical thinking through advanced analysis of musical compositions. Students become creators and problem solvers as they move through the process of composing and arranging original music, and become globally engaged by studying the history of music theory and the cultural and historical significance of a wide range of musical genres and compositional styles.  
  • AP Studio Art: Drawing or 2D Design (Photo or Graphics)

    AP Studio Art students produce a minimum of 24 works that satisfy the requirements of the Quality, Concentration, and Breadth sections of their chosen Portfolio (Drawing or 2D Design). The final body of work submitted for the portfolio can include art created prior to and outside of the AP Studio Art course.  Students learn how to seek out creative problems that are interesting and challenging and use goal setting, informed decision making, and problem-solving skills to pursue their own artistic interest in an informed way. Group critiques benefit the whole class by allowing students to view work by their peers and gain fresh perspectives on their own portfolio work.  Prerequisite: AP Drawing: 2D Design or Honors, and a portfolio interview; AP 2D Design Graphics: Advanced Topics and portfolio required; AP Studio Art 2D Design Photo: success in Advanced Photo, portfolio review, and permission of instructor required; AP 2D Design Studio: 2D Design or Honors, and a portfolio interview.


  • Dance 1

    Students will learn basic technical aspects of dance, including the traditional foot, arm and body positions, fundamental locomotor and non-locomotor movements, rhythm and musicality, basic dance stretches and strengthening exercises, and dance performance.  No prior dance experience is required. Students will be introduced to the history of Western dance, gain exposure to different types of world dance through video and choreography, and see contemporary styles of dance on video. Students will learn various styles of choreography, be introduced to improvisation in dance, and start choreographing their own combinations.  Students also may be required to perform at one or more events on campus.
  • Dance 2

    Dance 2 students will further their study of dance at an intermediate level.  They will progress beyond the basic body positions in dance and move to complex combinations and choreography.  Students will study present-day world dance forms and specific influential choreographers. Students will be expected to choreograph, stage and perform their own dance pieces for the student body.  Students must either take Dance 1 as a prerequisite to Dance 2 or audition into the class.
  • Dance 3

    Dance 3 students will further their study of dance at an intermediate to advanced level. Students will continue developing their dance technique and improvisational skills and will explore their own voice in dance, both as a dancer and choreographer.  Students will create their own dance works, making every decision about choreography, music, costuming, and staging, and participate in works created by other students. Students must take either Dance 2 as a prerequisite to Dance 3 or audition into the class.
  • Dance 4

    The purpose of Dance 4 is to prepare the students to have the fundamental skills moving forward to be able to establish a career as a dancer, choreographer, dance teacher or pursue any other dance-related endeavor. This class will focus on how to teach dance to others, how to choreograph for all dance levels, and will spend a trimester on commercial dance. The dancers will have the opportunity to teach, choreograph, and be an assistant choreographer for a dance film that we will be working on during this class. Finally, the dancers' final project will be a dance workshop, which they will teach the following classes (Jazz, Contemporary, and Hip Hop) and also take care of all the logistics of hosting the dance workshop.
  • Digital Filmmaking 1

    The Filmmaking 1 class is divided into two main areas. Students will learn the process of videography by forming their own story ideas and then creating and editing digital video. In addition, students will study film and video concepts as well as engage in film critique.  The creative process of film and video making involves many steps. Students will acquire not only the technical skills related to making a video such as lighting, production software, cameras and equipment, but also the aesthetics of what is involved in the creation of an interesting and exciting film. This requires not only acquiring the necessary technical information but it is also about understanding the creative workflow process. Students will learn how to use video cameras, import their clips and then edit their work with Adobe Premiere Pro production software. They will learn how videographers use various techniques to achieve certain effects both while shooting footage and later during the editing process. They will also learn how to incorporate the skills they may have already learned in graphic design courses with Photoshop and Illustrator into the video production process. Students will view film and video examples and then engage in discussions regarding their creative approach and composition. They will be able to see the concepts they have studied in class put to practical use in classic and modern films. Classroom study will involve different genres of film, cinematographers, directors and film as an art form. Students will also discuss the role of filmmakers in our society and how their creations can help them lead a more purposeful and meaningful life. At the conclusion of the class, students understand why a good story is not enough. They must to be able to tell that story well. In this medium, storytelling involves actors, cameras, lights, sound and editing.
  • Digital Filmmaking II

    This course builds on skills from Digital Filmmaking 1. Students will learn advanced techniques in filmmaking while producing several projects in a variety of formats and genres: documentary, fiction, public service announcements, experimental, poetry, music videos and documentary news items. This course emphasizes the development of writing skills through pre-production that includes scripts, storyboarding, production charts and shot lists, and includes screenwriting software such as Final Draft. Students will continue to develop their skills in camera work, framing/composition, tripod/dolly use, backgrounds and audio, with special attention to studio lighting using three-point light kits. Student expand their knowledge of Adobe Premiere and Media Encoder. with an emphasis on refined editing techniques: special effects, exposure control, transitions, audio mixing with multiple tracks, and text. This course also continues to engage students in critiquing and media literacy, developing critical thinking skills.
  • Digital Music Production

    Digital Music Production is open to everyone. No prior experience creating music is required. This class is appropriate for those with interest in music other than or in addition to performing in a traditional band, orchestra, or choir. Conversely, those with musical training and experience will find this class an ideal outlet for personal musical expression. Experienced and novice musicians alike will gain an increased understanding of various musical styles, genres, traditions, and cultures; music theory; the psychology of music; and the art of recording and mixing.
     
    This multifaceted, entry-level class offers something for all students, regardless of musical experience. The year starts with creating your music using GarageBand, Soundtrap, and Logic and culminates in the recording, editing, producing, and "selling" of an album, video, or film featuring Pacific Ridge students. Students will develop their musical knowledge as they learn practical, foundational skills that provide insight into careers in music performance, composition, entertainment business, recording business, live sound reinforcement, and audio engineering.
  • Film Studies

    Approaches to Film Studies teaches students to appreciate and practice the art and craft of filmmaking and analyze the medium’s cultural significance throughout its history. Films from diverse cultures and time periods are part of our study. In understanding film as both an art and a means of communication, students learn to identify and explain elements of the filmmaking process, explicate central ideas of given films, and develop these interpretations in a coherent and organized manner. Students are then able to apply these analytic skills to other media of artistic or literary creation.
  • Graphic Design I

    This course explores both practical and creative applications for graphic design as an essential form of contemporary two-dimensional art and communication. Students learn the basics of creating digital art, typography, layout, and logo design, as well as effective presentation skills. Emphasis is placed on imaginative brainstorming, addressing visual challenges, learning and creating projects and publications using Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Dreamweaver software programs.  The class is designed for students in all Upper School grades.
  • Graphic Design II

    This course is designed for advanced 10th, 11th and 12th grade students who want to take on the next level of graphic design tools and projects.  Students challenge themselves with more complex design projects – integrating photography, printmaking and web – and begin to seek out creative problems that are personally interesting and challenging to them.  We focus on new skill-enhancing design problems, individually designed projects, and work that serves the outside community. The class projects vary widely and look to greatly enhance the range of skills each designer has and help them produce portfolio worthy work. Finally, we meet with professionals in the graphic design field and visit a ‘design-shop.’
  • Honors Classical Music Ensemble

    This is a performing ensemble that focuses primarily on “classical” music, but will branch out into other musical styles from time to time. Students must audition and demonstrate advanced proficiency on their instrument. This ensemble will perform in school concerts, the annual spring arts festival, and will attend a national music festival along with the Vocal Ensemble and Jazz Rock Ensemble. In addition to performances, the class will explore the historical and cultural background of classical music, and integrate with history classes at Pacific Ridge. Honors students earn this credit through advanced study in music theory and additional integrated projects between music and other disciplines.
  • Honors Jazz Rock Ensemble

    Honors Jazz Rock Ensemble is open by audition to students who play any instrument.  Students perform various styles of music such as pop, jazz, rock, swing, funk, and fusion, and the periods of music included range from early jazz through contemporary popular and rock tunes.  In addition to learning about playing in an ensemble, students focus on advanced improvisation skills, ear training, reading music, and understanding music theory. Honors students must complete additional music theory assignments and produce an approved final project such as a composition or transcription; perform in all school-sponsored arts performances; and take on a leadership role in class.
  • Honors Theater Arts

    Theater Arts Honors provides a forum for serious actors to further hone their craft by challenging them with more complex material, providing them with further tools for interpreting and conveying that material, and offering them the opportunity to create their own play.  The Honors course is comprised of two-thirds scene study, and one-third play writing and rehearsing for our Festival of One Acts. Students perform four times for a general audience, the culminating event being the production of student-written, one-act plays in the spring.
    Students drive all technical components of their second Honors Production, providing them with a stepping stone toward Advanced Theater Arts the following year. Additionally, Honors Actors perform in two campus-wide arts festivals, one Community Life period, and the ESU Shakespeare Monologue Competition.
  • Honors Visual Arts

    This class is designed for 11th and 12th graders who are ready to work on individualized portfolios that reflect their own personal artistic styles.  Students in Honors Visual Arts begin by exploring the “foundations” of visual arts, visually interpreting important pieces from Art History that influence artists today. Throughout the course, students assemble a body of work that demonstrates growth over time in subject matter and content, and the development of specific techniques.  Group critiques benefit the whole class by allowing students to view peer work and to gain fresh perspectives on their own portfolios. Prerequisite: Intro. to Visual Art, 2D &/or 3D Design, and a portfolio interview.
  • Introduction to Digital Photography

    What makes a photograph good?  Astonishing? Evocative? Memorable? It takes far more than pointing and shooting a camera. Every day we see hundreds, maybe thousands of images, but we rarely consider how and why they were made.  Digital media have increased our exposure to imagery and also transformed the practice of photography itself. While the tools and techniques of the electronic medium are dramatically different than analog film photography, the fundamental aesthetic possibilities in composition, lighting, and exposure remain the same. This course challenges students to use camera controls competently and creatively, manipulate and enhance images using industry-standard Photoshop and Lightroom software, and confidently present and discuss their visual choices during in-class critiques.
  • Introduction to Theater Arts

    Introduction to Theater Arts is an acting, literature, history and psychology class in one.  Throughout the year, students build on the foundation they acquired in middle school theater classes.  Students read and discuss a number of plays, from which they rehearse and perform for a general audience, the major event being an Evening of Selected Scenes.  Additionally, Theater Arts actors perform in two campus-wide arts festivals, and the ESU Shakespeare Monologue Competition. Visits from guest artists expose students to the principles of improvisational theater integral to any actor’s technique, and students are expected to acquire a basic skill set in the art of improvisation by the end of the year.  Other perks of the class include viewing and analyzing scenes from film, and sampling some of the excellent live theater in the area.
  • Introduction to Visual Arts

    This course, comprised of 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders with a range of artistic talents, helps students develop their artistic sensibilities through the study of the Elements and Principles of Design, Art History, and the application of a variety of techniques to create original works of art.  Students work in sketchbooks, design and execute both 2D and 3D compositions, and participate in written and group critiques as part of their formal assessments. Visual Arts projects enhance discussion of the overarching philosophical questions being studied across the Upper School curriculum, while students make connections to their own learning in personal ways that develop problem-solving skills and take their artistic expression to another level.
  • Jazz Rock Ensemble

    Jazz Rock Ensemble is open to students who play any instrument.  Students perform various styles of music such as pop, jazz, rock, swing, funk, and fusion, and the periods of music included will range from early jazz through contemporary popular and rock tunes.  In addition to learning about playing in an ensemble, students focus on improvisation skills, ear training, reading music, and understanding music theory. Performances are scheduled regularly throughout the year at school concerts, coffee houses, and informal gatherings.  Students in this ensemble learn about the cultural context of each piece of music performed, and study the social, historical, and musical significance of each piece. They also learn about the musical artists associated with each piece of music we perform.
  • Vocal Ensemble

    In this class, students learn the technical aspects of good singing: maintaining breath support; creating good tone; expanding range; and singing in various languages.  The class repertoire comes from a variety of genres including classical, pop, Broadway, Renaissance, gospel, folk, and jazz. Students read music, improve their aural skills (their “musical ear”), sing in four-part harmony, and learn some basic music theory. Vocal Ensemble performs a cappella music as well as music accompanied by piano or the Upper School Jazz/Rock Ensemble. The group sings at school concerts, coffee houses, and community outreach events.
  • Vocal Ensemble Honors

    In this class, students learn the technical aspects of good singing: maintaining breath support; creating good tone; expanding range; and singing in various languages.  The class repertoire comes from a variety of genres including classical, pop, Broadway, Renaissance, gospel, folk, and jazz. Students read music, improve their aural skills (their “musical ear”), sing in four-part harmony, and learn some basic music theory. Vocal Ensemble performs a cappella music as well as music accompanied by piano or the Upper School Jazz/Rock Ensemble. The group sings at school concerts, coffee houses, and community outreach events.  Honors students must complete additional assignments and meet additional requirements including the following: maintain a 90% attendance record; perform a full-length solo in a school-sponsored arts performance; complete six units of the Essentials of Music Theory per trimester; and take on a leadership role in class.
  • Yearbook

    Note: This course may only be taken one time for arts credit. Yearbook students must fulfill their second year of the arts requirement by taking a different course.
    This course guides students in the development of the school yearbook and the literary magazine, both published at the end of the year.  All students are exposed to the basics of visual design and journalistic writing in the introductory portion of the course. Students will learn the graphic design program, InDesign/eDesign, early in the first trimester in order to put new knowledge to work throughout the year. Every student will also have an introduction to photography and have the opportunity to refine their skills throughout the year and creating images that the entire school will enjoy. Students work together as a staff, so collaboration and teamwork are crucial and required  to creating The Founder, the PRS yearbook -- our final product of the course.  Students will develop a strong aesthetic eye for clean, unified design and the ability to manage the organization and deadlines of the project effectively and efficiently.
  • Alison Behr

    Digital Media Arts & Director of Service Learning
    Bio
  • Drew Burges

    Music
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  • Michelle Clark

    Dance
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  • Steve Dziekonski

    Arts Program Director, Music & STEAM
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  • Justine Hansen

    Vocal Music
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  • Fredreka Irvine

    Theater
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  • Raymond Oakes

    Digital Media Arts & Studio Art
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  • Anna Pietrowski

    Photography & Yearbook
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  • Eva Schmidt

    Digital Media Arts
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