Visual & Performing Arts Academy

The Visual & Performing Arts Academy offers three pathways: Visual Art, Theater Arts, and Music (Band, Orchestra, Chorus). Each program combines outstanding curriculum with the expectation that students apply and enrich their learning with committed study of content and skill throughout the academic year and during the summer. By design, academy learning experiences meaningfully extend the curriculum, deliberately accelerate student learning, progressively contribute to the development of a distinguished portfolio of work, and ultimately serve the goal of expanding post-secondary options in the arts for students.

Visual Arts Pathway

All visual art pathway students begin grade 9 with The Creative Process, a 60-minute daily course. Instruction focuses on advanced skill development in core art forms including drawing, painting, printmaking, digital art, and sculpture while students cultivate an understanding of the arts over time and across cultures. This blend of skill and perspective deepens and informs the art making process and enriches student understanding of global cultures and the universal nature of artistic expression. Through course activities and topics-based seminar work, students will develop the core strategies and habits necessary for ongoing reflection and growth as artists, including creative and collaborative problem-solving and interpersonal communication.

After completing The Creative Process in the 9th grade year, students choose one of three visual art pathway concentrations for the sophomore, junior, and senior years.

Seven (7) total courses are required in each pathway concentration, all of which are instructed and assessed at the Honors or Advanced Placement (AP) Level and all of which must culminate with the AP course corresponding to the area of study.

Digital & Commercial Art: Students who choose this path will concentration on art and design that communicate a clear message.

  • Photography

  • Digital Art

  • Graphic Design

  • Advanced Placement 2-Dimensional Design

  • Two (2) additional visual arts courses from outside the area of concentration. Compatible elective courses from outside the visual arts may be chosen with approval from the VPA Academy coordinator.

2-Dimensional Creation: This is a more traditional, fine arts pathway for students who wish to develop skills in creative expression.

  • Drawing

  • Painting

  • AP Studio Art

  • Three (3) additional visual arts courses from outside the area of concentration. Compatible elective courses from outside the visual arts may be chosen with approval from the VPA Academy coordinator.

3-Dimensional Creation: This option is for students interested in developing skill in a visual-spatial mode.

  • Sculpture I

  • Advanced Sculpture

  • AP 3-Dimensional Design

  • Three (3) additional visual arts courses from outside the area of concentration. Compatible elective courses from outside the visual arts may be chosen with approval from the VPA Academy coordinator.

Theme-based Seminars: All Visual Arts Academy students will participate in a theme-based seminar each quarter to explore topics pertinent to a broad study of the arts, ranging from development of artistic technique, interpretation and criticism of artwork, exploration of careers in art, and interaction with the local and regional art and cultural community.

Summer Extensions: Visual Arts Academy students will be expected to broaden their art experience with summer work in the sophomore and junior summers in order to develop, apply and refine a skill or concept from their curricular experiences. The expectation is for the student to commit 6-10 hours per week over 6-8 weeks to an internship, apprenticeship, course, or other high-quality experience that is approved by a member of the BHS Visual Art faculty.

All students will present the results of their summer extension at Bangor High School on a single day in mid-late August. The overarching goal of the Summer Extension is to contribute to the ongoing development of the Capstone Project, the culminating product of extended study.

Capstone Project: Each pathway concentration ends with its respective Advanced Placement course that is designed to facilitate completion a Capstone Project. The Capstone is a four-year culmination of student work in the pathway presented in portfolio form and representative of the student’s curricular and enrichment experiences over their time in the program.

Each project requires a written proposal, an in-depth exploration of an idea or theme represented in the work, an essay describing the creative process behind the work, an artist’s statement, and a final, formal presentation of the project to a committee of artists / educators.

VPA Academy Theater Pathway

Year One: Dramatic Expresssion

All visual art pathway students begin grade 9 with this 60-minute daily course that focuses on the technical skills of dramatic presentation on the character level as the foundation of the art form from the perspectives of participant and audience. Students individually and collaboratively apply and analyze elements of movement, voice production, and stage direction; improvisation, pantomime, and ensemble work; character development and analysis; and character interplay within a scene and over whole texts.

Dramatics Expression  is the first of six (6) total courses required for the Theater Pathway.

Year Two: Synergy of the Stage

This course will extend fundamental theater skills and concepts through yearlong study of the roles, competencies and their required to create and stage a full production. Beginning with the playwright, students will extend analysis to all aspects of a production, including casting to bring text to life; costuming and the use of make-up and props; enhancing production with technical elements (lighting, stage design, sound engineering); and directing the holistic interplay among elements to convey meaning theatrically.

Year Three: Shakespeare in Performance

The rich language and theatrical history of Shakespearean plays provide the focus for deeper understanding of theater in this third-year course, which complements the study of British literature in junior English. Students will read a body of plays with emphasis on historical context and the intersection of language and content and then use these understandings in combination with learning from previous courses to produce a Shakespearean play in the second semester.

Year Four: Capstone Seminar in Theater Production

Using a seminar design, the course is a yearlong analysis and synthesis of dramatic expression, thematic content, historical context, technical application and production design that informs and inspires three collaborative capstone opportunities: the fall (musical) winter (one-act) and spring (Shakespearean play; other potential). While inherently collaborative, capstone productions will require individual Academy students to assume lead responsibility for a significant aspect of one or more productions and to document their learning through the process, including: a description and analysis of the role (including research); an in-depth self-critique of the work accomplished; and a rationale for artistic choices made. The capstone is a defining element of a required portfolio of four-year pathway experiences formatted to uniquely align with the student’s post-secondary goals.

Cross-Cutting Curricular Experiences

In addition to the core curriculum, VPA Academy students are expected to complete two or more compatible, existing Fine Arts courses chosen from outside the Theater Pathway to complete the six (6) course requirement. Strong historic links exist between the theater and choral programs, and many Theater Pathway students will complete the non-pathway study requirement through choral performance course(s).

VPA Academy Music Pathway

Foundational Course: Honors Ensemble {Band, Orchestra, Chorus}

Taken first as a foundational course and then annually, Honors Ensemble will meet for 60 minutes daily during a concurrent time period for each Music Pathway discipline (Band, Orchestra, Chorus) and is open to non-Academy students. Students are expected to extend beyond the core emphases on technical progression, ensemble rehearsal, musical style, and musicianship study through committed individual practice that is complemented by study of Music Theory and benchmarked by the Sophomore & Senior Recitals.

First-year Academy students will engage in yearlong study of Fundamentals of Performance through a combination of course and non-course experiences. Students will be expected to attend a variety of creative performances both within and beyond their discipline to explore and understand the universal nature of performance. By design, Academy students will engage in a continuum of critique (of others, by others, of self) that internalizes performance fundamentals, increases the quality and value of objective criticism, and ultimately accelerates development of individual and collective performance skills.

Year Two: Music Theory I

Through a combination of classroom and piano-lab study, students will gain fundamental understanding of the standard language and components of tonal music including scales, chords, keys, and form. Daily training exercises will develop students’ ability to identify these concepts by ear and will serve as a core complement to traditional (lecture, written assignments) and computer-aided training that focus on developing strong foundational knowledge of music composition.

Sophomore Recital: Students will synthesize two years of study into the development and performance of a recital in the summer or early fall following the sophomore year. This important mid-Academy performance benchmark mirrors the expectations of the Senior Recital and provides an opportunity for Academy students, who will perform in succession, to showcase their development and to benefit from formal feedback as they:

  • Deliver a 15 minute solo performance of self-selected music

  • Publish a program with researched program notes to contextualize the selections

  • Respond to both juried and peer critique

  • Utilize a recital recording as a source of self-assessment and improvement

Year Three: Advanced Placement Music Theory

This course is designed to meet the standards established by the College Board AP Music Theory course and prepares students for the corresponding exam in May. Students will become fluent with the standard language and components of tonal music including scales, chords, keys, form, and modulation including the ability to identify readily these core concepts by ear. Course activities will include lecture, written assignments, and live and computer-aided ear training and will focus on acquiring sophisticated understanding of music composition.

Year Four: Capstone Seminar in Music Performance

This semester-long course is devoted to the refinement and completion of all written, technical, and performance-based components of the Senior Recital required of all BHS Performing Arts Academy students in the Music Pathway (Band, Chorus, Orchestra). Through teacher instruction, guidance and monitoring, students will establish and meet completion and quality benchmarks to prepare for the culminating exhibition of four-years of study in the chosen discipline.\

Seminar Experiences

BHS VPA Academy students will participate in a quarterly seminar on topics that complement and broaden exploration of the Fine Arts. Under consideration are technical elements of creative production; career exploration and visioning; engaging with local and regional artists and the arts community; and the medium of dance. Priority will be given to unifying seminar topics and activities that involve VPA Academy students from all pathways.

Cross-Cutting Curricular Experiences

The seven courses in the sequence established above meet the expectations of the Academy model. However, Music Pathway students will be encouraged to choose elective courses within and beyond the Visual and Performing Arts that extend their discipline study, expand their interests, and align to their post-secondary goals.

Summer Extensions

BHS VPA Academy students will be expected to broaden their experience with summer work during the sophomore and junior summers in order to develop and refine skills and applied concepts from their curricular experiences. The expectation is for the student to commit 6-8 hours per week over 4-6 weeks to an internship, apprenticeship, coursework, independent or guided study, or other quality extension experiences that are proposed by the student, approved by the teacher of the discipline, and presented in the late summer or fall. The overarching goal of the Summer Extension is to contribute meaningfully to the ongoing development of the Capstone Project.

Senior Recital: Students will synthesize four years of study in the development and performance of a dedicated recital to take place during the Capstone semester. This summative solo exhibits the intersection of technical skill progression, music theory understanding, historical music context, and musicianship / performance. The 30-minute performance of self-selected music (distinct or continued from Sophomore selections) includes publication of a program with well-researched contextual notes and culminates with juried and peer critique.