Renaissance School is the Niche #1 High School for the Arts in 2019. Arts are not an elective at Renaissance School! Arts are core classes, essential to creative problem solving across all disciplines, and taught at the highest level of rigor, often in conjunction with regional arts organizations, private tutors, and pre-professional programs. While Arts are core classes for all students, our programs extend to advanced levels for high ability students, and Renaissance School graduates  regularly go on to study at the top arts schools in the country.

Visual Arts

Students may take up to four full years of studio art at Renaissance School, including Portfolio Art. Students apply to show work at our in-house 5th Street Gallery and in Alighieri, our school literary magazine, as well as at local galleries including the McGuffey Arts Center, Chroma Projects Gallery, and others. All students participate in our annual juried Arts & Sciences Show, often with multiple entries, and many sell their work through gallery shows or as part of the annual auction that accompanies our Spring Show.

Visual Arts are a featured element of our all-school “Ninth Week” trips to locations around the country. Our 2019 graduating seniors have visited such diverse galleries as The Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Gardner, and Institute for Contemporary Arts in Boston, 21c in Louisville, the Carnegie, Frick, and Andy Warhol Museums in Pittsburgh, as well as the VMFA, often with private guides. Locations naturally vary by destination but an emphasis on art never wavers!

Visual Arts are also a central component of our Arts Practicum program through long-standing partnerships with LightHouse Studios, where our students have created multiple award-winning films, and the IX Art Park.

Visual Arts are frequently the subject of students’ choice in our two-year Independent Studies program. Topics have included street photography, children’s books, art therapy, Dadaism, and many more.

After this level of training and exposure, it is not surprising that Renaissance School students often go on to study at top schools for the arts around the country, including:

Bard College Maryland Institute College of Art Rhode Island School of Design School of the Art Institute of Chicago VCU Arts


Performing Arts

Students may take both Theater and Music all four years at Renaissance School. All students participate in our annual Winter and Spring Shows in one way or another - thank you ushers, ticket sellers, and coat-takers! - but the show itself is completely driven by Theater students, both front- and back-stage. From writing adaptations to costumes to lighting to sets to programs, and of course, treading the boards, students take charge of the Show from the time the House opens until it’s time to break the set. Students bring their creativity, and we often enjoy the unexpected, from international / multilingual pop song mash-ups, to original modern dance choreography, to magic tricks.

Our music program makes theory, history, and practice available to all students, regardless of level. Our Performance Ensemble is for experienced musicians who want stage time! They perform out in the community, at all school events, from our Open House to the juried Arts & Science Show, as well as Graduation and the Spring Show. Classical, jazz, pop, and other genres are all incorporated. This video of our Ensemble opening the Freedom & Liberation Concert at the Jefferson Theater on February 28, 2019 was also wholly filmed and produced by our talented student tech and film crew.

Performing Arts are a central feature of our Arts Practicum program through extensive partnerships with the Music Resource Center, Live Arts, Light House Studio, and the Charlottesville Ballet.

Performing Arts are also a featured component of our all-school “Ninth Week” trips to locations around the country. Students have the opportunity to see both professional and college performances of theater and music at regional playhouses and national colleges of the performing arts.

Performing Arts are annually the topic of many students’ choice in our two-year Independent Studies program, recently including film score, mythology in screen- and stageplays, creativity in the Information Age, handmade string instruments, the mathematics of music composition, and many others.

With this extensive background in performance, it comes as no surprise that Renaissance School students go on to some of the top performing arts schools nationwide, including:

Columbia University The New School Berklee College of Music