Mr. Meltzer

Students' art works displayed in the Art Gallery

Arts Scholars on the Scene

An inside look at KUA's newest flagship scholar program

What does a student need to consider when applying to a boarding school? Is it the size of the campus, the quality of the food, the luxuriousness of the dorms? Or is it the programs and extracurricular offerings the school provides?

For three years now, Kimball Union Academy has offered students a chance to participate in the now-iconic Global Scholars, a supplementary program that enhances students’ high school experience and earns them an additional layer of distinction at graduation.

This year, KUA has chosen to add another scholar program to its menu of enrichment opportunities: the Arts Scholars Program. Similar to the Global Scholars, the Arts Scholars is a two-year-long program that spans from junior year to graduation. Students apply as juniors and, following their acceptance, they attend a diverse selection of arts classes and supplemental activities on and off campus to accumulate points. As of fall this year, there are nine people enrolled in the Arts program. “[The program is] a little bit like an art major [in college],” commented Ms. Haskell, the Arts Department Head.

Mr. Meltzer
Ms. Haskell, Arts Department Head. Founder of the Arts Scholars Program.

Arts Scholars is “a way of framing your education, so all the things you do in a regular education, the critically thinking that you do, the creative work, will be rooted and grounded in your artistic pursuits,” said Ms. McCabe, Head of Dance.

Mr. Meltzer
Ms. McCabe, Head of Dance. Founder of the Arts Scholar Program.

The program was created to give recognition and motivation to students who take more intensive arts: “Basically, [the goal is] to give credit to the kids who really take a lot of art classes. And who want to have that opportunity to get credit for what they do” explained Ms. Haskell.

Student arts concentrations can vary; they can be “a theater person, a music person, a dance person, or a visual art person,” Haskell clarified.  Ms. McCabe explained the reasoning behind such diverse offerings: “I’m hoping that they understand their own artistic potential and begin to develop their own voices and what it means to be an artist.”

Every year, the program holds six seminars on a variety of artistic topics. For example, after the last Flick Gig in September, the scholars came together and had a conversation with the band members from El Mar.

The scholars are required to go to all Flick Gigs and take at least one of four academic classes including: Dance History composition, AP Art History, AP Music Theory, and Honors Humanities. In their senior year, they will begin their capstone projects, which must be unique and  arts-relevant.

Mr. Meltzer
Arts scholars talking to the members of El Mar after the show.

Besides the requirements above, the scholars are encouraged to do some service activities that are arts-oriented. The options for service opportunities are myriad: scholars could teach little kids how to dance or design posters for concerts, beautify their community with a mural or play music for residents of a retirement home. As students engage in all the possible opportunities that are provided for them, they will have a taste of what it’s like to be an arts major in college and maybe decide whether that would be an enjoyable path for them. Ms. McCabe added, “[The Arts program is for the] students who are really interested in the arts, using the arts as the backbone of their education.”

As Ms. Haskell pointed out, Arts Scholars can best be summarized as a program that involves “appreciation, leadership, opportunities and service.” The confirmed scholars will be recognized at their graduation ceremony with a distinction rope, and the program will appear on their transcripts and diplomas.

The Arts Scholars program is a much-appreciated addition to the KUA community, and it provides a focus for the students who are interested in the arts and gives them a greater sense of their personal goals.

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