The vibrancy of our art program is on full display in our studios and on our stages. Students are encouraged at every level to make art with energy and passion. Our outstanding facilities speak to the high premium our school places on the pursuit of excellence in the arts. Students are offered a wide range of opportunities – from an active, hands-on experience in our innovative freshman courses to an advanced exploration of sophisticated concepts in our AP level art courses. Our teachers are working artists. Our students consistently win more art awards than any other independent school in Massachusetts.

Both the casual and serious art student find a place in our visual and performing arts program. Art is considered a verb in many of our classes – we encourage students to take creative risks, to become fully alert and to remain endlessly curious. We want students to experience the magic and power of art. Whether that experience occurs at a potter’s wheel, inside a viewfinder, at an easel, on a stage, or at a piano is less important than that it happens completely and often. Students involved in the arts at The Governor’s Academy stand a very good chance of finding themselves entirely captivated by the process of making art.

More information about the Fine Arts can be found here.

Courses & Descriptions  

Fine, Visual, and Performing 

FA 11-12: Introduction to Fine Arts (IFA) (one semester; MINOR course; .25 credit)

All 9th graders are required to take IFA, which allows them to discover the wide array of arts offerings available on campus. Students rotate through a new discipline with a new teacher every 4 weeks, exploring music, technical theater, video and film, photography, ceramics, drama, and studio art.

VA 25: Architecture (FALL; half credit)

Architecture is a full-semester course with each student displaying his or her final project to the community. The first quarter is spent learning the principles of perspective, spatial concepts and basic architectural design. During the second quarter each student will demonstrate his or her knowledge of architecture by designing a structure with a floor plan and elevation design, and by creating a 3-D model of a structure. A lab fee of $30.00 is required.

VA 26F/26: Film (FALL or SPRING; half credit)

This is a full-semester upper class course with each student displaying his or her final project to the community. The first quarter is spent studying films and learning the principles of film making techniques (i.e., camera operation, editing, directing and acting). During the second quarter each student will demonstrate his or her knowledge of film making by working on several separate film projects as part of a film crew. Each student will be required to direct at least one film.

VA 29S Architecture II (SPRING; half credit)

This full-semester course focuses on creating structures and environments by using a variety of CAD (Computer Aided Design) systems. This is a project-based course. Students will learn to use CAD as an architectural tool to aid in construction, city planning, landscape architecture or even video game design. Prerequisite is Architecture I. Limit 14 students.

VA 31/32: Ceramics Studio (FALL or SPRING; half credit)

This studio course offers instruction in basic pottery, including design and the study of various techniques from "Raku" to wheel throwing, glazing and kiln use. Ninety-minute classes meet twice each week. There is a student charge for materials of $50. (Limited to one section per semester.)

VA 34: Intermediate Ceramics Studio (SPRING; half credit)

This studio course is for the more serious pottery student who wishes to continue to explore further with sculpture and hand-building techniques and more advanced wheel work. The student will also learn about different temperature firings—such as Saggar, pit, and smoke firing—in addition to learning how to fire the kilns.

VA 37: History of Cinema (FALL; half credit)

In this course we will be viewing films of the past 20-30 years, such as Star Wars, Disturbia and Pleasantville, and not only critiquing, but also examining the historical path that led to each film; you might say we will be investigating the “shoulders” upon which these films stand. We will also be looking at the social and political climates that have been an influence on the cinematic journey for each film. You will find the films that entertain us today have a rich and powerful past that changed the world.

VA 41/42: Photo I (FALL or SPRING; half credit)

This is a basic studio course in photographic techniques with emphasis on visual perception and expression. Students are provided with 35mm SLR cameras and are introduced to a number of shooting and printing techniques. During the first half of the semester, students print black and white images in the darkroom, but later they learn how to work with color images using Adobe Photoshop. Students have access to an assortment of lenses, filters, and films to complete their photo assignments. Assignments encourage students to create ambitious, personal work. Students print and bind their own photo books, exhibit a selection of their mounted prints in the Student Art Show, and often publish their photographs in school publications. A lab fee of $75.00 covers all film and printing costs.

VA 43F/43S: Carpentry for the Theatre (FALL or SPRING; half credit)

This one-semester course will focus on constructing scenery, staging and properties (props). The course offers a hands-on curriculum implementing the safe use of power and hand tools, paints, and finishes. The goal of the course is to learn more detailed construction methods currently in use in the entertainment world, while gaining valuable lifelong building skills. “Anything goes” on stage, so class projects will be correspondingly varied and diverse. There are no prerequisites for this course. All levels of ability will be accepted.

VA 44F: Lighting and Sound (FALL; half credit)

A one-semester course dedicated to discovering the finer points of lighting and sound design and implementation, this course will be a hands-on application of current theatrical trends. The Performing Arts Center offers state-of-the-art equipment that each student will have the opportunity to learn, to manipulate, and to discover. There are no prerequisites for this course. All levels of ability will be accepted.

VA 45F/45S: Advanced Carpentry for the Theatre (FALL or SPRING; half credit)

This course is for students who wish to improve the carpentry skills they learned in the introductory course. Students will design their own projects and learn a variety of advanced building skills that will allow them to complete advanced level projects. Prerequisite is VA 43F/43S: Carpentry for the Theatre, or permission of the instructor.

VA 51/52: Introductory Studio Art (FALL or SPRING; half credit)

This course is designed for the student who wishes to explore art and is curious to learn something about the creative process. Specific assignments will be given in which the student will explore self-expression in various media. Emphasis will be placed on basic color theory, two-dimensional drawing, design and paper mache, and three-dimensional design. Projects will be assigned in pencil, block print, and acrylic painting. Student work will be shown in exhibits across campus. A lab fee of $40 is required.

VA 53/54: Intermediate Studio Art (FALL or SPRING; half credit)

This is an intermediate course for the more serious art student who wishes to further explore the media covered in the introductory course. Emphasis will be placed on drawing and painting, with attention given to the Advanced Placement requirements. Work required for exhibit. Prerequisites are VA 51/52: Introductory Studio Art, and the permission of the instructor; or, for the serious experienced student, a portfolio for audition. A lab fee of $40 covers the cost of supplies.

VA 57: AP Studio Art (Advanced Placement; two semesters)

This course prepares the artist to present a finished portfolio in either Drawing/Painting, 2D Design or 3D Design. Each portfolio is broken up into three distinct components:

Concentration - the focus on one concept or subject matter.

Breadth - a demonstration of an artist’s prolificacy

Quality - pieces that demonstrate an artist’s mastery over the medium

The class will also design the end-of-the-year Student Art Show. A lab fee of $60 covers the cost of supplies. Prerequisites: An introductory course, an intermediate course, and a portfolio.

VA 62: Photo II (SPRING; half credit)

This course builds upon on the photographic knowledge from VA 41/42: Photo I, expanding students’ understanding of the expressive and descriptive powers of photography. Students are encouraged to develop a visual style and personal aesthetic. Emphasis is placed on refining technical skills, but cross-media projects requiring experimentation and non-traditional printing methods are introduced throughout the semester. Both film and digital cameras are used during the semester. Students create a final portfolio of work to complete this course. Owning an SLR film or digital camera is strongly recommended for this course. Lab fee of $75.00 covers all film and printing costs. Prerequisite is Photo I, or permission of the instructor.

VA 68S 3-D Design (SPRING; half credit)

This class is designed to familiarize students with three-dimensional problem-solving in terms of both content and materials. Students will work with a range of materials and methods. Experiences will include building objects with a 3-D printer, casting aluminum objects in a charcoal-fired foundry, and creating sculptures with a variety of 3-D media (e.g., wire, clay, wax, paper, plaster). The course emphasizes creative thinking, craftsmanship, problem solving and manipulative motor skills.

VA 91/92: Independent Study in Visual Arts (FALL or SPRING; .25 credit)

Individual study in a topic as arranged by the student in consultation with an instructor from the department. Students meet together once each week to discuss their work. Prerequisite is VA51: Introductory Studio Art. A lab fee of $40 is required to cover the cost of supplies.

PA 32/32S: Public Presentation Skills (one semester; MINOR course; .25 credit; required of all 9th graders)

This course is designed to help students feel comfortable speaking in front of people. Students will practice different ways to engage an audience by controlling vocal dynamics. Students will also practice techniques for controlling their anxiety while speaking. Instructors will ask students to practice working in different presentation situations, e.g. a news cast, a wedding toast, a formal introduction, a humorous anecdote, instructions, directions, political persuasion, and sales presentation. If time allows, students will be asked to use props and PowerPoint.

PA 21/22: Electronic Music and Recording (FALL or SPRING; half credit)

This course will focus on learning the basics of electronic music and recording. Students will use programs including Garageband, Reason and Protools to write original music compositions and record student performances. Topics covered will include MIDI, sequencers, synthesizers, digital recording methods, songwriting, and electronic music history.

PA 23: Orchestra (two semesters; MINOR course)

Students learn a variety of chamber and symphonic music, drawn from Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and contemporary styles. This course stresses musical development through individual practice, rehearsals, and regular performance at Fall, Winter, and Spring concerts. Open to all students with intermediate fluency on an orchestral instrument.

PA 25: Jazz Band (two semesters; MINOR course)

Students learn music from the Jazz repertoire and perform regularly in Fall, Winter, and Spring concerts, in addition to other small performances. This course stresses musical development through individual practice, rehearsals, and regular performance. Open to students with intermediate fluency on standard Jazz Band instruments; rhythm section (including guitar, bass, drums, and piano) is selected by audition in September.

PA 27: Chorus (two semesters; MINOR course)

“The Academy Singers” is open to all students. This ensemble rehearses a wide variety of choral repertoire from classical to Broadway. The Academy Singers performs at all Fine Arts concerts and at other school events throughout the year. No prior musical training is necessary.

PA 47: Advanced Chorus (two semesters, MINOR course)

“The First” is open to 10th, 11th, and 12th graders by audition only. This ensemble studies and performs American and European choral literature of the 16th through 20th centuries, including works written in foreign languages. Potential members should be serious singers, dedicated to perfecting their vocal skills. The First performs at all Fine Arts concerts and at special events at the request of the administration.

PA 34: American Music History (SPRING; half credit)

A survey of American popular music from the pre- colonial days to the Revolutionary War to Minstrel Shows to ragtime, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll. Throughout the course students also explore the technological developments of recorded sound (from the phonograph to iPod), famous and notorious popular musicians and songs, and how music defines our personal and cultural identity.

PA 36: Forensics and Competitive Public Speaking (SPRING; half credit)

Students will prepare and practice for parliamentary, Oregon and Lincoln/Douglas style debates. In addition students will prepare and practice the persuasive speech, the after dinner speech, oral reading and extemporaneous speaking. The class will travel and participate in at least one interscholastic contest.

PA 41: Music Theory (FALL; half credit)

Vocalists and instrumentalists with limited knowledge of music theory are invited to take this basic course. Topics covered include note-reading, scales, key signatures, accidentals, intervals, chords, melodic dictation, and exploration of songwriting.

PA 51: AP Music Theory (Advanced Placement; two semesters)

This is an advanced music theory course designed to develop the tools necessary to understand and analyze musical works in a wide range of styles and forms. In addition to music theory (scales, key signatures, harmony, voice leading, rhythmic and melodic dictation, etc.), students will learn compositional, analytical, and aural skills. While preparing for the AP exam, students will also compose original music for various instruments and ensembles, including the piano and string quartet. Students will be scheduled to take the College Board Advanced Placement exam in Music Theory in May. Prerequisite is PA 41: Music Theory, or permission of the instructor.

Private Lessons

Students at The Governor’s Academy have the opportunity to study with talented teachers and performers from the area who offer lessons on various instruments and in voice during the academic day. Students and instructors find a common free time in which to have a 45-minute weekly lesson. Lessons are currently offered in piano, voice, guitar, bass, drums, flute, trumpet, trombone, tuba, clarinet, saxophone, cello, violin, and viola. Lessons for other instruments are based on the availability of teachers and interest from students. For more information, contact Bruce Denmead, Director of Instrumental Music and Lesson Coordinator.
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