Founded in 1973, School One has long been known for its innovative curriculum, strong sense of community and diverse student body. We are also known for the arts; creativity is central to our mission and art is integrated into many academic subjects here (and covers most of the walls!).
Students are drawn to School One for its environment of inspiration. Even the school’s lockers are bold, rainbow colors rather than uniform beige as you might find in most schools.
School One students also like the wide variety of art courses offered, with everything from Introduction to Ceramics to Behind the Scenes Film Studies, Comic Book and Graphic Novel Incubator to Fine Drawing. Beyond the school day, students benefit from the after-school opportunities at School One. This year, as part of its intergenerational arts program, School One offered Close Encounters with Words and Images, a writing class inspired by works of art which took place at the RISD Museum. Another after-school option was En plein air. Led by RI artist Ida Schmulowitz, students learned about the Fauves, Cezanne and the techniques of landscape painting before setting up their easels on Blackstone Boulevard.
School One student Lola Rael took part in the after-school program, and recently started an internship with Gallery Night Providence. She describes her experience at School One, “Almost all of my classes could be considered art classes because my portfolio draws projects from each of them including history. My favorite is my fine arts class. Fine Art has taught me details of world history that compliment my history class and every piece I’ve made in that class features not just art techniques but also historical nuances that takes it to a whole new level.”
Teachers and staff are drawn to School One because they teach to their own passions and to their students’ passions, delving into material that is both relevant and resonant. This is especially true in the case of the visual arts. Visual Arts Coordinator Kristen Jones hires teaching artists, who are working artists with graduate degrees and teaching experience. They provide expertise, mentor students and provide a link to the outside art community.
“Many of the students who come to School One to focus on the arts hope to study art or design in college. They work on art production but also learn art history, design and presentation concepts, artistic connections with academics and effective criticism techniques. We give them a wealth of support for college applications, portfolio and artist’s statement guidance and regular visits from admissions representatives from the top art and design colleges. We also encourage them to participate in a variety of exhibition opportunities,” said Kristen Jones, Visual Arts Coordinator.
Kristen is dedicated to showcasing the work made at School One. Each year, she curates a large annual exhibition which is the culmination of students’ hard work and time in the art studios. She also identifies contests and opportunities for students to showcase their work outside the school building such as the Central Congregational Church’s High School Art Show on the East Side, and The Heartspot Art Center and Gallery in East Providence.
As a result of the School’s reputation for the arts, School One graduates attend prestigious art schools around the country. This year’s graduates have been accepted at schools like Parsons School of Design, California College of the Arts, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
But what about the ones who don’t want to be artists?
Head of School Jennifer Borman explains, “We want all students to develop their creativity, but the majority don’t intend to pursue art professionally. We believe that creative thinking and problem solving are vital skills across all kinds of 21st century jobs. We also believe that the arts help us grow as human beings.”
Kristen Jones sees those students in her art classes. She says, “Students who come to School One are attracted to a unique experience that promotes creativity in each class and activity. So even if a student is not as focused on art, the material they study in arts classes helps them with developing their creativity and critical thinking skills. The more academic focused students often find it satisfying to engage in the art classes that provide them with the personal freedom to be expressive.”
This year’s Annual Art Show will take place at School One on Thursday, May 10th from 3-9pm. Members of the public are invited to attend.