Art as the Heart of the School, Canyon Crest Academy: A Case Study

Elloise Bennett

Abstract


Abstract. Canyon Crest Academy (CCA) opened its doors in August of 2004; a brand new public high school shaped around the vision of creating an environment where art is a core focus of the curriculum. 
Offerings in the field of art would include the following disciplines: Painting, Sculpture, Theater, Music – including instrumental music, orchestra, jazz and choral, Digital Art, Dance and Film. Even core ‘academic’ courses would intertwine with the arts through interdisciplinary projects and lessons and technology was infused throughout. All of this was despite the fact that the State of California and the US Federal Education Department were not emphasizing arts education in any shape or form. And especially emphasizing ‘core’ subject areas like math and science due to the famous legislation around “No Child Left Behind.” By the time that CCA matriculated it’s first graduating class in June 2008, it had exceptional achievements on its resume: the highest College Board Advanced Placement exam passing results in the district and exceptional results on California standardized content exams; 99% of the students were finishing high school on time, well above the State and national average; recognition as one the top 200 schools in the United States by Newsweek Magazine.
This is the school of the future and this article considers the development of this institution in the form of a case study by a former administrative staff member.

Keywords: Arts education, arts, Academic performance, California public school, No Child Left Behind, standardized exams

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