Visual Arts

  • “A child’s education is not complete unless it includes the arts. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)...lists the arts and music in a definition of a “well-rounded education”...As this country works to strengthen our place in the 21st Century global economy, the arts equip students with a creative, competitive edge. The arts provide the skills and knowledge students need to develop the creativity and determination necessary for success.”
    From Arts Education, Created Student Success in School, Work, and Life (2017)

     “As infants, we learn to read images months before we become verbal and years before we attempt to become fluent in written language. Have you ever seen a toddler who can communicate through sign language before learning to speak?  From a young age, a great deal of educational emphasis is placed on teaching children how to identify and read words and understand their meanings. So too do we need to learn to identify, read, and understand images – to become literate in visual language – in order to communicate successfully in our increasingly image-saturated culture..”
    From Why Visual Literacy, Toldeo Museum of Art

    Visual Arts K-5

    The elementary visual arts curriculum is based both on the PA Arts Standards and the National Core Arts Standards. Starting in kindergarten, students are encouraged to explore their own creativity through different mediums, such as clay, fibers/textiles, sculpture, printmaking, painting, and drawing. As students create, they are also taught how to present their work to an audience and then how to respond as they “consume” the works of others, both their peers and famous artists. Throughout the art curriculum, students are taught to make personal connections to the content, as well as to make connections to historical and cultural experiences reflected in the art. Students are assessed not in their “artistic ability”, but their willingness to create, their understanding of art as a larger piece of society, and their understanding of major artistic movements, influential artists, and art terminology.

    Visual Arts 6-8

    The middle visual arts curriculum continues to build upon the foundation laid in the elementary art classrooms but also seeks out opportunities for deeper integration with the core content areas (English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies). In all grade levels, language skills are reinforced as students read about different artists, conduct research about different artistic eras, and write responses to pieces of art. For example, in sixth grade, the art curriculum is closely tied to the social studies curriculum, allowing students to study the world, not only in a historical context but exploring the various cultures of our world through art. Students are assessed through their practice with different techniques and mediums, their ability to critically examine production pieces, and their understanding of major artistic movements, influential artists, and art terminology.

    Visual Arts 9-12

    When students enroll in high school level arts classes, they will continue to be challenged in different ways, but they also have the opportunity to specialize in different areas, including Comic & Animation, Graphic Design, Photography, Sculpture, and Studio Art. As students continue into more advanced levels, they have the ability to earn honors weight and possibly college credits through Advanced Placement coursework.

    Did you know that many colleges and universities recommend one or two semesters in the arts?  While this is not the case for all schools, the College Board does recommend that all college-bound students have a well-rounded high school transcript, which would include the arts.  Students are encouraged to discuss their post-secondary plans with their counselor to ensure they are meeting admissions requirements for their target schools.  

    Advanced Placement

    Students have the ability to take Advanced Placement courses through the College Board in Visual Art. Advanced Placement classes assume students already have strong foundations in the specific subject area of the course and are seriously interested in preparing to take the subject area AP test. Through the completion of these courses and the assessment procedures, students have the ability to earn college credit. These courses include:

    • Art History: This is a college level course that covers the Paleolithic era through contemporary times. Students will analyze art and architecture in reference to their place in global civilization.

    • Studio Art: Advanced Placement credit for Studio Art is not based on the usual written exam. The course work is quite rigorous. Students must submit portfolios that include 24 pieces of work for evaluation at the end of the year. Because of the amount of work, it is often necessary to complete projects at home. There are three different AP Studio Art options that students can explore with their teachers:

      • Studio Art 2-D Design
      • Studio Art 3-D Design
      • Studio Art Drawing

    Kristen Barnello, Ed.D.
    Supervisor of Fine Arts & Social Studies