Secondary Campus Arts

Languages of the Visual World

The Visual Arts curriculum is designed to help students gain knowledge and experience with the languages of the visual world.
We stress art as a form of communication within a cultural and historical context. Students learn technical skills with which to express themselves, as well as vocabulary to discuss their vision and the vision of others. We strive to introduce our students to a lifelong appreciation of art as a means of personal and cultural representation.

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  • Ceramics

    For high school students, Cermaics provides the beginning ceramic student an introduction to working with clay and glazes. Along with the basic techniques of wheel throwing (centering, raising cylinders, and trimming) and hand-building (slab construction, pinch, and coil), students also learn principles of safety, kiln loading, application of glazes and surface decoration, and become fluent in a ceramics vocabulary. Increasing proficiency, dexterity and the joy of process are evident as student ceramists develop their technical skills and aesthetic sensibilities through sketching and discussion. Art historical research and class critiques culminate in a term paper comparing Japanese and British ceramic traditions. Additionally, students mount a collaborative exhibition of their projects, which are photographed and on display for the community. By 12th grade, students also conduct advanced research as they incorporate diverse classical techniques into their own ceramic repertoire.
  • Drawing and Painting

    Studio art courses for high school students provide a solid foundation in fine art drawing practices, with a focus on the acquisition of skills used in observing and rendering. Technical and conceptual issues are investigated. Instruction is given in value, line, proportion, perspective, composition, and design. The imaginative and communicative aspects of drawing are explored. Points of departure include physical space, the still life, live models, self-documentation, and metamorphosis. Artists and art movements will be discussed as relevant, with a focus on 20th and 21st century work. The emphasis will be on the development of perception skills, creative visual expression, and a working knowledge of drawing techniques and approaches. By 12th grade, within a working studio environment, emphasis is placed on experimenting and expanding, while also developing greater mastery, control, focus, awareness, and depth of understanding. Students’ engagement in their individual ideas, projects, and approaches serves as the foundation for their work in this course.
  • Film and Video

    Introducing technical skills and aesthetics of filmmaking as early as 8th grade. Classic narrative, documentary and experimental cinema is presented and analyzed and then students work in teams to write, shoot, and edit short films. Courses range from developing critical thinking and a rudimentary knowledge of film terms and techniques, and to put the students in touch with their creative power to express ideas with film and video.
  • Photography

    As soon as 8th grade, students learn basic photography skills through camera and darkroom work, as well as looking at historical and contemporary photography. Students make non-camera generated ‘photograms’ as an introduction to darkroom practice and experimentation, then move on to working with 35mm film cameras. Students will gain an understanding of basic technical and formal issues, including composition, point of view and light as subject. Students will become familiar with both traditional and experimental approaches to the medium. As with all photography classes, students will engage in robust conversation, reading and writing around photographic theory and practice.
  • Sculpture

    As soon as 8th grade, Sculpture courses provide an introduction to sculptural concepts and methods of fabrication. Through demonstrations and hands-on exercises, students learn how to work with wire, clay and other materials in three dimensions. Students may explore digital sculpting and utilizing 3D printing as an art tool. Historical and contemporary artworks will be presented and discussed. This course explores sculpture as a medium, hones critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, and encourages students to develop confidence in their own skills. By 12th grade, some examples of previous courses of study pursued by Sculpture IV students include object-oriented performance, furniture design, architectural proposals, mixed-media assemblage, site-specific projects and installation.

The CalArts Program

Through our partnership with the California Institute of the Arts, middle school students have the opportunity to take an additional visual or performing arts course, in addition to the one required in the regular curriculum. Each trimester the students choose from a variety of classes in music, dance, theatre, and the visual arts, which meet once a week to supplement and enhance their arts education. CalArts graduates and graduate students come to Oakwood to share their expertise and enrich our core courses.

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    Musical Theatre
    Computer Animation
    Comics and Caricature
    Historical Self-Portraits
    African Dance
    Jazz Singing
    Super 8 Film making
    Rock Band
    Tap Dance
    Recording Using Pro Tools
    Sketch Comedy
    Learn to DJ
    Tinkering and the Art of Technology
    Hip Hop

    This is just a sampling of the incredible course opportunities the CalArts program offers to Oakwood students.


We aim to inspire students towards fluency in the Performing Arts through a diverse curriculum filled with opportunities to develop individual artistry, cultural, historical, and social awareness, and boundless imagination.
Through their studies in performing arts, students will acquire the skills required to create, produce, perform and present works of art. Recognizing their place in the artistic community at large, students will also develop enduring artistic values tempered with grace and humility—important steps toward becoming empathetic, well-rounded, self-knowing human beings.

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  • Theatre Arts

    For over 50 years, Oakwood theatre has produced socially conscious productions that  inspire, enlighten, and entertain. From its earliest days, the theatre department has been known for pushing the boundaries and providing students with opportunities to engage material in as many forms as can be imagined, from the page to the stage and everything in between.
  • Music

    Oakwood’s music department is devoted to the study and performance of music in all its diversity, including experimental music composition, jazz, popular music, brass band, big band, world music, chorus, orchestra, and more. To enhance this philosophy, the department offers a wide range of classes in theory, composition, and performance, each geared to helping students develop their skills as they work toward mastery.
  • Dance

    Oakwood’s dance department teaches a wide range of styles and techniques designed to challenge students with technical mastery and explore structures inherent to each discipline. Students are lead to explore the social significance and practical applications of dance as an art form, and inspired to  appreciate dance as a powerful tool of personal expression through movement.