Philly charter schools for the next Picasso, Mozart and Shakespeare
These creatively inclined charters offer innovative progrms in visual arts, music, dance and culture
For parents seeking to cultivate their student’s prowess for painting or mastery of music, consider these unique programs in the arts at Philidelphia-area charer schools:
For the budding musician: String Theory Charter Schools
String Theory Charter Schools’ four campuses have a fine-tuned focus on music. “We pride ourselves in combining specific majors in the arts and STEM with the over-arching umbrella of technology such as iPad instruction and Apple TVs,” says Jack Carr, the principal at Vine Street High School.
By second grade, students are “musically literate,” meaning they’re able to write and create short rhythms and melodies. All students play the violin and learn ballet until 5 th grade, when students choose from a range of arts major including instrumental or vocal music, classical ballet and Broadway dance.
“Recent highlights include painting a mural for the cafeteria at the Sheraton Hotel, which is our neighbor at 17th Vine, and in theater, our production of The Laramie Project,” says Carr.
Famous graduates of the program include singer and Broadway performer Cody Wise, who played Simba in “The Lion King” when he was just a tot.
Vine Street Campus, 1600 Vine Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 267-428-2224
For the performance artist: Folk-Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School
Folk-Arts, know as "FACTS," combines culture and community to enhance the education of Asian American and Asian immigrant students (their main language taught is Mandarin Chinese). FACTS, which opened in 2005 in Chinatown, also works to encourage and support diversity in a multi-racial and multi-ethnic environment. Folk artists from around the Philadelphia participate in residencies at FACTs, and the arts programming ranges from traditional Chinese lion dance to storytelling to martial arts.
1023 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 215-569-2600
For the future Impressionist painter: Green Woods Charter School
Claude Monet was devoted to capturing the beauty of the natural world in his landscape paintings — and so are students at Green Woods.
Students take an interdisciplinary approach to art, science, and history with trips to the Philadelphia Art Museum trips, where they can view Monet’s “Green Park,” or “Marine View with a Sunset” up close and projects mirroring the crafts of the Delaware River’s former Lenape tribe.
Carolyn Mosbruger, an art teacher at Green Woods, described a student project: “Last year the students collected plastic bottle caps for the majority of the school year. We selected six butterfly designs. In conjunction with Earth Day, we began assembling six large butterfly mosaics using our huge collection of bottle caps. We discussed trash, recycling, and how our creative use of a discardable material prevented the over 2,000 bottle caps we used from going into a landfill.”
468 Domino Lane, Philadelphia, Pa. 215-482-6337
For the young soprano: Chester Charter School for the Arts
This K-12 music and arts-centric school began as a dream of Dr. John Alston, a Swarthmore College music professor. Alston established the Chester Children’s Chorus in 1994, and wanted to expand the program he was so passionate about. The Chester Charter school officially opened in 2012.
Students at Chester participate in five arts such as dance, drama, music, and visual arts, based on The Pennsylvania Academic Standards for the Arts.
Impressive showings from world-renowned classical talent this past December, famous Metropolitan Opera singer Denyce Graves performed a benefit concert for the school. In April, the students at Chester hosted an art exhibition, “21 st Century Perspectives,” at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, Acclaimed organist Philippe Lefebvre of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral gave the opening night performance.
200 Commerce Drive, Aston, Pa. 610-859-3010