Fine Arts Academy
What Makes Us Stand Out
Q: McCallum is a regular high school and a Fine Arts Academy? Please explain.
Q: What does participating in the Fine Arts Academy mean?
Q: What majors (strands) does McCallum Fine Arts Academy offer?
Q: What kinds of fine arts courses does McCallum offer?
Q: What outside-of-school arts opportunities does McCallum offer its students?
Q: Does McCallum perform/exhibit around Austin or just on campus?
Q: How many Honors, Pre-AP, and AP courses does McCallum offer? (AP = Advanced Placement)
Q: Speaking of AP scores, how do McCallum Fine Arts Academy students fair on AP tests?
Q: How do Fine Arts Academy students stack up in the National Merit Program?
Q: Does McCallum offer dual credit?
Q: The Texas Education Agency recently released ratings for all public schools. How did McCallum do?
Q: What electives outside of fine arts courses can McCallum students choose?
Q: What do Fine Arts Academy students do after graduation?
Nuts and Bolts
Q: What are the goals of the Fine Arts Academy?
Q: Who can apply for the McCallum Fine Arts Academy?
Q: How difficult is it to get in to the McCallum Fine Arts Academy?
Q: Can you give some specifics about the makeup of the McCallum Fine Arts Academy student population?
Q: Can students double-major in two strands at the Fine Arts Academy?
Q: If I apply in two strands and am accepted in only one, can I still take classes in the strand I wasn’t accepted into?
Q: If my child is not selected, what happens after that (what recourse do we have)?
Q: If accepted to the Fine Arts Academy, does Austin ISD provide transportation to McCallum?
Q: Can Fine Arts Academy majors participate in other programs such as extra-curricular activities, plays, sports, etc?
Q: Can Fine Arts Academy students earn credits for courses in their fine arts major away from McCallum, like at a community arts organization?
Do you have a question not answered here? Contact us!
What Makes Us Stand Out
A: Our structure is unique and effective. Each year, about 30% of our school population comes to us from all over Austin ISD to major in a fine arts strand here at McCallum. The other 70% of McCallum students come to us from our feeder middle schools (plus a handful who obtain other types of transfers to attend school here). We offer the widest variety of arts courses in the area and for those who apply and are accepted into the Fine Arts Academy, we provide students an intensive program of individual and group study in their area of interest in the arts.
All students at McCallum have an opportunity to take any fine arts course they want (with the exception of a very few courses set aside for fine arts majors). Students can also take any academic subject they want, provided they have satisfied any pre-requisite course requirement. Students (Fine Arts Academy majors and “regular” high school students) sit side-by-side in academics and fine arts classes, participate in sports together, and are completely incorporated into any part of the school they choose. By structuring our school this way, our students benefit from our exemplary fine arts programs and our strong academic offerings. McCallum students graduate ready for anything.
We call our structure “concurrent,” as opposed to other “standalone” fine arts high schools in Texas and elsewhere. By having such a large representation of students identifying as “fine arts kids,” our campus culture is accepting, expressive, and respectful of each student as an individual.
A: Students apply and audition to “major” in an area (or strand) of their interest in the Fine Arts Academy, so those that are accepted and complete the program are recognized as graduating from an intensive, competitive, pre-professional program. Each major contains six prescribed year-long courses along with outside-of-school individual performance and/or competition requirements. All courses and requirements in the major, along with academic, behavior, and attendance standards, must be fulfilled for a student to earn the special designation of McCallum Fine Arts Academy graduate.
A: Choral Studies, Cinematic Arts, Dance, Instrumental Music (band, classical guitar, orchestra, and piano), Theatre (acting and technical), and Visual Arts.
We also offer a performance certificate program in Musical Theatre, which is an optional add-on to a major in Choral Studies, Acting, or Dance.
A: Our program offers both depth and breadth of study in the fine arts. By having the highest fine arts faculty:student ratio in the district, McCallum is able to provide an extensive variety of fine arts courses and a multi-year program of study in all fine arts disciplines. We offer specialized courses in music, dance, theatre, visual and cinematic arts including (but limited to): beginning, intermediate, and advanced steel drum ensemble, jazz band, “like instrument” courses in strings, Latin rhythms and ballet-intensive dance, four-year course paths in musical and technical theatre (in addition to acting) and filmmaking, and ten specialty courses in visual arts.
A: McCallum Fine Arts Academy partners with many working artists and arts organizations to provide extensive experiential learning opportunities to our students. Examples include a multi-year in-school residency with the Austin Chamber Music Center, master classes with university professors, and workshops with visiting artists (examples: Graham Reynolds, the Mark Morris Dance Group, Mary Sledd, Sandra Adair, Broadway touring companies, New York Film Academy, the Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, et al.) One of our latest program additions is an after-school Samba program.
Our students also take advantage of individual contests and performance opportunities. In addition to consistently strong representation of McCallum music majors at All-State Band, Orchestra, and Choir, we also have students awarded top honors at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble contest. McCallum musicians have won Austin Symphony Orchestra and San Antonio Symphony concerto contests. Many of our musicians also participate in summer programs and camps at UT, Texas State Strings Camp, Interlochen, the Eastern Music Festival, Sewanee Summer Music Center, and others. Due to our strong reputation in musical studies, McCallum is a preferred choice for university professors to give masterclasses and our school has served as a regional audition site for Juilliard and the Eastman School of Music.
In Visual Arts, students compete at VASE, the annual Visual Arts Scholastic Event. It’s also common practice for McCallum artists to also submit pieces to Scholastic Art & Writing and Association of Texas Photography Instructors competitions, and to present fashion shows. In spring 2014, 19 McCallum students advanced to All-State VASE and three received Gold Seals (top 150 art pieces from the 25,000 statewide submissions). We also had 6 students receive awards at the National Scholastic Art & Writing competition in 2014.
In theatre, our students participate in masterclasses with professional artists and university professors, perform with community theatres, complete internships with local companies and casting agencies, and participate in summer programs both in and outside Austin.
A: McCallum is committed to engaging the Austin community, and our groups regularly perform around town. Our orchestra presents Movie Music in the Park at Mueller, our steel bands perform at the Texas Book Festival and One World Theatre, our band plays at Central Market north, and our dancers have performed at the Texas Capitol and with The PULSE on Tour in Dallas. Because we have two traditional theatre spaces and a “flex” black box, most of our theatrical productions are staged on campus.
McCallum also presents performances in collaboration with a number of artists and organizations both on and off campus, as well. The McCallum orchestra has performed with the Eggmen at the Paramount and with Robert Earl Keen here at the McCallum Arts Center. Our music department presented a world premiere opera in collaboration with Texas State University in fall 2013, and our chamber guitar ensemble opened for Pepe Romero at GTAustin and played at Austin City Hall for the Mayor and City Council.
Our visual artists have been featured at the UT Bass Concert Hall, the Davis Gallery, the Contemporary Austin (formerly AMOA), and other smaller galleries and venues.
A: 20 in English, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Pre-AP and AP courses in these areas include English I-IV, Algebra I and II, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Statistics, Calculus AB and BC, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy and Physiology, Geography, World History, Macroeconomics, US Government, and US History. McCallum also offers eight Pre-AP and AP courses in Foreign Languages/Languages Other Than English.
AP fine arts courses at McCallum include AP Music Theory, AP Art History, AP Studio Art, and AP 2D and 3D Design. Also, any third- and fourth-year (Level III and IV) fine arts course may be taken for Honors/weighted credit.
A: VERY well! In 2013 alone, McCallum had students scoring a 5 (the highest score possible) on the following 16 AP exams: Art History, Art: 2-D Design Portfolio, Studio Art: Drawing Portfolio, Music Theory, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, Language and Culture, Macroeconomics, Physics, Spanish Language, Statistics, Government, U.S. History, and World History.
McCallum students consistently outperform Texas averages by 20+ points on the percent of total AP students with scores of 3 or higher (the College Board’s predictor of a student’s ability of persist in college and beyond).
When looking at aggregate AP data and statistics, it’s important to keep in mind that some schools “pre-screen” students before they take AP exams to minimize the number of lower scores; the College Board calls those schools gatekeepers. McCallum is not a gatekeeper campus. We provide any student who wants to take an AP class and exam the opportunity to do so.
According to U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking, McCallum consistently ranks among the top high schools in Texas and in the nation. For more info, go to http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/texas
A: Fine Arts Academy students are oftentimes top achievers. In 2012-2013, all three of McCallum’s National Merit Scholar Finalists were Fine Arts majors, and two of the three National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholars were Fine Arts majors (the other one was a band Drum Major).
In 2013-2014, we can report that all three of McCallum’s National Merit Finalists, six of 10 Commended students, four of the six Hispanic Recognition Program winners, and the National Achievement Program Outstanding Participant were Fine Arts Academy majors!
A: Yes! Austin ISD partners with Austin Community College to provide dual credit courses each summer, fall, and spring. Recent dual credit course offerings at McCallum include U.S. History 1 and 2, English Composition 1 and 2, U.S. Government, Texas Government, Speech, College Algebra, Introduction to Sociology, and Introduction to Psychology.
A: In 2013, McCallum High School was one of only two comprehensive high schools in Austin ISD to meet standard and receive distinctions in all areas. Click on the link below to access the report:
A: McCallum has a wide range of electives, including (but not limited to): Animation, Aquatic Science, Astronomy, AVID, Creative Writing, Forensic Science, Principles of Architecture, Psychology, and Video Game Design.
A: By participating in the Fine Arts Academy, our graduates are ready for anything!
McCallum Fine Arts Academy graduates have gone on to attend Amherst, Bard College, Berklee College of Music, Boston College, Boston University, Brown, Bryn Mawr, BYU, CalArts, Columbia, Cornell, Drexel, Eastman School of Music, Harvard, Hendrix College, Howard University, Manhattan School of Music, Maryland Institute College of Art, Michigan, New England Conservatory, NYU, Northwestern, Oberlin, Oklahoma City University, PACE, Parsons The New School for Design, Pomona College, Rhodes College, Rice, Rutgers’ Mason Gross School, SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), SMU, Southwestern, Stanford, Tufts, Tulane, and The University of Texas at Austin, Vassar, and Yale – among many other colleges, conservatories, and universities around the world.
Recent graduates told us they plan to major in everything from Criminal Justice to Computer Engineering and Medicine to Music Performance. Former Fine Arts Academy graduates include members of the Chicago and National Symphony Orchestras, practicing artists and gallery owners, and arts educators throughout the United States.
Nuts and Bolts
A: The five goals of the Fine Arts Academy are to provide the highest level of instruction in the arts, to focus on the individual development of each student, to integrate the professional arts community into our programs, to encourage an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum and instruction, and to cultivate our students so that our graduating seniors produce a pre-professional level of product in their art form.
A: McCallum Fine Arts Academy accepts applications from in-district students only. To check if your residence is within Austin ISD, please visit the district School Finder at https://access.austinisd.org/school_boundaries.
A: Several factors contribute to the selectiveness of the Fine Arts Academy. Each year, the Fine Arts Academy is given a “cap,” meaning the upper number/limit of students we can accept into the program for the following year. Also, the number of applications we receive year-to-year and strand-to-strand fluctuates depending on student interest.
While we wish we could serve every student who wants to attend McCallum, we have to waitlist some students and turn others away each application cycle.
Our current student population represents 60+ public, private, and home schools. We have students here from every Austin ISD middle school, with the exception of only one.
1/3 are male; 2/3 are female. Current students identify as: 62% Caucasian/White, 10% Black/African American, 6% Asian, 21% Hispanic/Latino, and 1% Native American.
Over the first 20 years of the Fine Arts Academy, percentages of ethnic groups have been trending toward a more representative depiction of the City of Austin and of Austin ISD students as a whole; however, we admit to some lack in our diversity which is due to multiple factors including student/parent interest, geographic location of our school, transportation, etc.
A: Yes, but only in rare instances will students be offered a double major (approximately 5% or less of all applicants). Historical data has shown us that most students are the most successful with a single major; however, when a student auditions and our faculty agrees that the student is equally high-potential in both strands, we will offer that student a spot in two majors. The student (with conversation with parents) has the option of choosing to major in both strands offered, or of choosing only one major.
Yes! And keep reading…
We like for applicants to pick no more than two strands in which to audition, and we usually accept students in a single strand/major. Our Fine Arts faculty takes student preference, skill, and potential into consideration when determining what major applicants are accepted into. By majoring in one strand, students have options to take a wide variety of electives outside their major, versus being “locked in” to electives due to multiple majors.
We have a lot of students who participate in more than one area of fine arts. We have vocalists who play an instrument, actors who are accomplished visual artists, etc. The counselors will help you fit in as many arts courses as you want into your schedule each year, keeping in mind state-established graduation requirements.
A: If your child is in 8th grade, make sure to get him/her enrolled in a Fine Arts class in his/her strand of interest for 9th grade, participate in outside events/competitions (All-Region, VASE, Solo and Ensemble, etc.), and re-apply as a freshman. To students: prove yourself by making great grades in all subjects and come back super-prepared for a great audition or portfolio review! We appreciate tenacity.
If your child is a 9th grader, we so appreciate your interest in our program, but unfortunately, time has run out. Because of our program design, 10th grade is the latest a student can start and have time to complete all in- and out-of-school requirements. We wish you all best for the future.
A: If you live outside the Lamar and Kealing feeder pattern, then no. If a Fine Arts Academy student resides within the middle school feeder pattern, they can ride regular bus routes to school.
For students coming from other parts of the district, there are options. First, parents can drive their student to school until their student earns their driver’s license – then they can drive themselves! Second, many freshman and sophomore parents arrange carpools with other McCallum parents. Third, families have the option to plan for their students to ride public Capital Metro buses to school (some come in on public transportation from as far away as Manchaca, south of Slaughter Lane).
A: YES. Most of our students are involved in multiple pursuits including National Honor Society, PALS, competition sports teams, and fine arts courses outside their major. For more information, click on the Activities & Boosters, Student Clubs, and Sports links on the McCallum High School homepage, found at: mccallumhs.com
A: We want our Fine Arts Academy students to fully participate in their prescribed course plan here at McCallum for a number of reasons. First and foremost, each of our strands was specifically designed to cultivate our students both individually and collectively. By removing some students from some courses, it takes away from the overall effectiveness of our courses.
Second, participation in the McCallum Fine Arts Academy is a four-year commitment. Our faculty is assigned specific courses in their areas of strength to ensure our students receive the best possible education we can provide. While there are plenty of extraordinary opportunities for students with outside organizations, we cannot guarantee the rigor or quality of coursework taken away from our program.
A large number of our students participate with community arts organizations, where they have wonderful experiential learning opportunities. Our philosophy is that students’ experiences away from McCallum should supplement – not supplant – the education they receive at the McCallum Fine Arts Academy.
Q: Are there rehearsals outside of class periods?
A: Yes. Prior to concerts, there is a full week of after-school rehearsals. Also, concerts for 10th-12th graders may have before-school rehearsals starting at 8:00 AM. Optional performance opportunities will have before- and/or after-school rehearsals.
Q: What is classroom attire?
A: Students are expected to provide classroom attire. One leotard/top will be provided per year.
Q: Will freshmen/first-year McCallum dancers have the opportunity to be placed in an upper-level dance course?
A: No. All McCallum dance majors take the same class in the first year. After their first year, they may audition to join the Pre-Professional Company.
Q: Is Theatre Production class a requirement for Theatre/Technical Theatre majors?
A: No, but highly recommended for performance or technical participation in productions due to the 8 hour per week UIL rehearsal rule, increasing the amount of time musicals are allowed to rehearse/work from 8 to 13 hours. Production class also adds Honors credit in the third and fourth year therefore raising the GPA by giving additional academic credit for after-school rehearsals and technical work.
Q: What is the customary time for theatre production rehearsals?
A: For the majority of the rehearsal process, rehearsals will be weekdays from 5 – 7 PM. The tech schedule usually runs 4:30 – 6:30 PM. During technical and dress rehearsals, there may be additional weekend rehearsals or extended weekday rehearsals to end no later than 8:30 PM.
Q: What attire is expected for theatre students?
A: Character shoes are required for female students in musical theatre. Jazz shoes are required for male students in musical theatre classes. All performance and musical theatre students also need clothing that they can move and dance in. Technical theatre majors need a set of all-black work clothing and black closed-toe shoes.
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