The St. Thomas School art program is designed to develop each student's understanding of and interaction with the world of artistic expression and creation. With the essential elements of art as the foundational framework, the program helps students build connections through their personal artistic expression to curriculum in their classroom and to school-wide transdisciplinary themes.
Students develop a thorough understanding of artistic techniques and media at St. Thomas School, beginning with exploratory investigation in the younger grades and progressing into confident familiarity and strong competency at the higher levels. As students develop their own artistic voice through drawing, collage, painting, and sculpture, they make meaningful connections between their inner world and the world around them.
PreKindergarten, Kindergarten, and First Grade students participate in Art Appreciation. Art Appreciation students develop visual discrimination skills by observing, comparing and contrasting. In addition to developing an appreciation for art, these skills are important components of early reading and math acquisition. Our young art detectives also learn essential art vocabulary such as line, foreground, and focal point. In Second through Fourth Grades, Art Appreciation is woven into select units of study.
The Middle School program centers on specific courses, allowing students to apply their broad studio and historical knowledge and hone their techniques.
Students are encouraged to observe, explore, create, and perform as they explore the language of music. Proper vocal technique is taught and encouraged at each grade level. In addition to singing, children develop skills using Orff rhythm instruments and Kodaly hand signs. The Kodaly approach supports the internalization of the child’s first instrument – their voice. The Kodaly approach helps students develop an internal sense of pitch and tone, relating their own voice to the musical scale. The Orff approach provides students with early instrumental music experiences, as they relate musical notation to various notes on the instruments. Rhythm, melody, and harmony are all explored. Western classical composers and the instruments of the traditional symphony are studied. In addition, students observe the musical heritages of other cultures. Children are always encouraged to relate these observations to their own sense of identity and expression.
Beginning in the Middle School, the vocal music program challenges student to reach new levels. STS students are well known for their vocal music skills, and the Middle School program allows students to hone their vocal skills, develop the ability to perform in small ensembles, and participate in “show choir” experiences. Instrumental music opportunities are blended with the vocal music program. Students are able to apply their talents on instruments such as percussion, piano, and strings and accompany choirs. After school programs provides opportunities for students to take individual lessons on various instruments and to participate in specific clubs.
The drama program is an integral part of the music, movement, and drama program in the Early Learning Center. Dramatic performances often extend literary selections and particular school events. In the Elementary Center and the Middle School, drama is becoming a more integral part of the program. The drama program underscores other essential goals – team building, problem-solving, and performance skills.
Performance is an essential part of the fine arts experience. In music, art, and drama, students have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills by performing in various concerts, dramatic performances, and art shows. Through performance, students recognize the importance of “publishing” their work, develop confidence, and hone their public speaking skills.
Natural Inclinations: Students Collaborate with Artists-in-Residence at STS
January, 2016 - How do natural scientific processes influence our environment? How can artistic sculptures interact and represent the forces of nature while being a conduit for them? To explore these concepts, students collaborated with two artists-in-residence. Read more in TheSchoolArts Magazine.