Fine Arts Academy
As Austin ISD’s district-wide fine arts intensive high school program, the Fine Arts Academy at McCallum High School provides an exemplary arts education program for 9th – 12th grade students to pursue an accelerated arts curriculum as fine arts majors.
McCallum Fine Arts Academy attracts a diverse student body from all over the Austin area, including students who attended public, private, charter, and home middle schools.
A group of Austin community members who realized the value of drawing together like-minded arts students to study and learn from arts experts and from each other initiated and coordinated the movement for a fine arts intensive high school in Austin in the early 1990s. This community group asked for guidance on where to create a fine arts academy in Austin from Ruth Denney, who founded Houston’s High School for Performing and Visual Arts after retiring as a professor at The University of Texas at Austin. Ms. Denney recommended McCallum High School as the site for the fine arts academy due to its rich history of excellence in arts education and its close proximity to a high concentration of community arts organizations.
Partly as a result of Denney’s involvement, the McCallum Fine Arts Academy was embraced by The University of Texas College of Fine Arts from its inception and enjoys a strong partnership which continues today. The McCallum Fine Arts Academy also collaborates with the Austin Chamber Music Center, Texas State University, the Austin Classical Guitar Society, ZACH Theatre, the Austin Symphony, MINDPOP, and myriad other artists, community organizations, and cultural and educational institutions to provide the highest level of experiential learning opportunities to our students.
The Fine Arts Academy exists to develop well-rounded students, critical thinkers, collaborators, and a community of arts advocates.
The McCallum community maintains a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. All McCallum students share the same academic classes, and Fine Arts Academy classes and auditions are open to any McCallum student. McCallum students, including both Fine Arts majors and general population students, take an average of six Fine Arts courses over the course of their high school careers.
Instruction at the McCallum Fine Arts Academy teaches students how to be a critical thinker. Students are challenged and taught to analyze, critique, and revise their work. The Fine Arts faculty holds students to a high standard and requires students to develop self-discipline and the motivation to do their best work. Our students learn to ask important questions and work hard to get the answers. Critical thinking is as key to learning to create an artwork or choreography a dance as it is to be successful at math and music. The McCallum Fine Arts Academy holds its’ students to the highest standards for their work which requires critical thinking, accepting constructive critique, and the willingness to analyze, practice, and revise.
Performing and visual arts students work as members of a team. This happens within each arts strand as well as across strands. There are many opportunities for students to work with those in other areas of the arts. Art students plan and execute gallery exhibitions that go up before a major Fine Arts Academy event in the theatre. Orchestra members perform with dancers, singers, and actors. Band and orchestra come together as a full orchestra to prepare and present music for contest. Students collaborate with the broader arts community through in-school and outside-of-school partnerships with organizations such as MINDPOP, the Austin Classical Guitar Society, ZACH, Generous Arts, and many others. These few examples prove that McCallum Fine Arts Academy students benefit from a broad range of experiences throughout high school.
By encouraging our students to explore multiple art forms during their time at McCallum, we cultivate future arts advocates who are able to speak firsthand about the value of the arts in education and in the fabric of society. We also have parent organizations which advocate for exemplary fine arts education in Austin ISD. When it’s time to support McCallum, the arts, or other important causes, the Fine Arts Academy enlists the help of our students and parents.
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