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Cincinnati has a unique offering: the School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA). The K-12 school focuses on the visual, performing, and technical arts. Students in grades K-3 do not audition, while students in grades 4-6 audition in all areas to discover their own strengths and interests. Grades 7-12 audition and declare a major, which can range from dance to technical theater. / Image: Catherine Viox // Published: 12.28.19
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SCPA Teaches Students About Art and Life

How do you choose your child’s school?

That’s a complicated question. Aside from home, school is where kids spend most of their time. In Cincinnati, you have many options. In Cincinnati Public Schools alone, you have the choice between neighborhood schools, foreign language schools, Montessori or Paideia schools, STEM, technical, IT, and college prep schools, as well as virtual high schools.

Whew. It’s exhausting just to think about.

Cincinnati also has a unique offering: the School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA). The K-12 school focuses on the visual, performing, and technical arts. Students in grades K-3 do not audition, while students in grades 4-6 audition in all areas to discover their own strengths and interests. Grades 7-12 audition and declare a major, which can range from dance to technical theater.

You may say, "well, my kid isn’t artistic." That’s not the point of SCPA, says artistic director Angela Powell-Walker, herself an SCPA graduate who went on to a career in opera before focusing on education. “Our mission is fostering independent thinking. Not everyone goes into the arts, but everyone graduates with preparation for a successful life, and are well-rounded humans.”

“No 'non-art' thing isn’t creative,” continues Powell-Walker. “Innovation is creative. Scientific discoveries are creative. We teach students how to think outside of the box.” Alumni of the school include not only celebrities like Sarah-Jessica Parker, Nick Lachey, Tony- and Emmy-nominated actor Rocky Carroll, and original Hamilton cast member Malik Shabazz Kitchen, but numerous lawyers, doctors, psychologists, teachers, and business professionals as well as plenty of working actors, musicians, dancers, and arts administrators.

Students at the School of Creative and Performing arts learn both arts and academics. It’s both a public high school and conservatory, as well as a career and vocational school. “Technical theater skills translate into jobs. We have a relationship with the Local 5 union [IATSE Stage Hands] and with the Cincinnati Opera for career and technical training. We teach students the business of the arts, as well as the arts themselves.”

It’s also a place where “biases are quickly shed,” says Powell-Walker. “The kids exist in diversity and equality. We practice color and gender-blind casting. Students are summed up not by their economic status, but their talent. They learn to put effort toward their work, and to be true to who they are.”

Why choose the School of Creative and Performing Arts? The answer is simple, according to Powell-Walker. “You are choosing a place for your child to be raised. As they get older, with rehearsals and performances, they may spend twelve hours a day here. It’s more than just an education, then. It’s a family atmosphere. We teach excellence, work on ethics and effort, and provide students with the skills to be successful, whatever they choose to do in life.”

Applications for the 2020-2021 school year are now available online and due January 3.

Upcoming Audition Dates for Enrollment in the 2020-2021 Academic Year are in January:

  • January 21, 2020: In-district, Grades 7-12 (5:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.)
  • January 22, 2020: In-district & Out-of-district, Grades 4-6 (5:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.)
  • January 23, 2020: In & Out-of-district, Grades 7-12 (5:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.)
  • January 25, 2020: In & Out-of-district, Grades 4-12 (10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.)

Students are welcome to audition (grades 4-12) whether they are in Cincinnati Public School District, out of the district, or even out of state.

Questions? Go to the SCPA website or contact the school at 513-363-8000.

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