Visual and Performing Arts

The Visual and Performing Arts Department believes strongly that all students benefit from first-hand experience in the expressive power of art, music, theatre, and dance through live performance and the creation of art works. Students are asked to exercise critical thinking about their work, to explore multiple solutions, and to collaborate with others to produce expressive work in the arts. Classes are available at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels to allow students to develop mastery in the skills of the artistic disciplines. Students communicate their ideas to a variety of audiences in the community. Our art gallery features several shows each year, including the works of our students and of guest professional artists. Choral groups perform frequently throughout the Richmond area, and for school concerts such as the Spring Arts Night. Stuart Avenue Players, including students from both Saint Gertrude and Benedictine, present a Broadway musical and a play each year.

Visual Arts Courses

The purpose of this nine week course is to help students develop an individual aesthetic awareness through engagement with art and art making.  The course provides an opportunity to experiment with the primary techniques of art: drawing, painting, mixed media and three-dimensional art.

The goal of this semester course is to introduce students to hand construction techniques, design, aesthetics and the creative development of clay objects examining cultural, historical and personal modes of expression.  Students will learn to approach ceramic artwork as both functional and sculptural objects.  Various methods of glazing and firing are addressed as they relate to student work on specific projects. The class is designed to accommodate students of all experience levels. Every student will make a number of unique projects.

In this semester class students will develop skills with a variety of dry media. Instruction will cover pencil, pen, charcoal, and graphite. Techniques of contour and gesture will be covered along with practice in shading and perspective. Subject matter may include still life, landscape, figure studies, portraiture, and images from imagination. This class is suitable for beginners and intermediate level students.

In this nine week class students will develop an understanding of the principles of graphic design, the design process and how a designer works with a client. Students will become proficient using design software to edit photographs and manipulate visual elements. Working individually and collaboratively, student artists will learn to create effective layouts for print and electronic media. Students will develop an online portfolio that allows them to share their work and evaluate the process.

In this semester class students will develop attitudes and behaviors that support creativity and innovative thinking.  Students will have the opportunity to work with acrylic, watercolor, oil, encaustics and mixed media resources.  Students will be encouraged to focus on making creative compositions that reflect an understanding of the elements and principles of art, while exercising choice in subject matter and style. While it is helpful to have taken drawing, the class is open to all. Individual instruction and help will be available.

Emphasis in this full year class is on developing attitudes and behaviors that support creativity and innovative thinking that will help students transition into college.  Students learn to visualize and hypothesize to generate plans for ideas and directions for creating art and design. Students are encouraged to choose from a range of materials and methods of traditional and contemporary artistic practices, following or breaking established conventions, to complete class projects and to plan the making of a personal series of works based on a theme, idea, or concept.

This class will benefit students who intend to pursue art in college and wish to prepare an admissions portfolio or who, having had Honors Art and produced several AP quality works, wish to continue preparing a portfolio for Advanced Placement credit in drawing or design.  The class may also be recommended for selected students pursuing advanced studies in specified areas of art. Requirements include exemplary performance in previous art classes and a recommendation from the art teacher.

Music Courses

The emphasis in this class is on developing student musical leadership, harmony singing, and communicating with an audience in performance. Students will choose popular songs and arrange them to sing without instrumental accompaniment. Belle Tones will perform in public several times per semester. Skills gained in Chorus are helpful for students in Belle Tones.  

The emphasis in Chorus is on singing expressively with others, in addition to learning vocal technique, music literacy, and choral harmony. Students will sing a variety of familiar and new songs in different styles for the Christmas and Spring Choral Concerts, and occasional smaller public performances. Chorus provides the foundational music skills for more advanced music study, and is the prerequisite class for Honors Ensemble. Chorus is also recommended for students who want to take Belle Tones and Contemporary Commercial Music courses.

This course will immerse students in a creative and collaborative environment to apply the musical skills gained in earlier courses. The class will focus on the study and performance of rock, pop, soul, country, musical theatre, blues, jazz, and other contemporary music styles, while respecting the traditions, techniques, and context of each style. Students in CCM will select music for the class to study, analyze, and arrange, and will perform or record these arrangements for public sharing. Skills gained in Chorus and Music Tech are helpful for students in CCM. Open to Juniors & Seniors only; no audition

Students selected for Honors Ensemble will focus on developing advanced vocal skills and expressive musicianship through performing music in a range of difficulty levels, styles, cultural and historical contexts, and languages. Honors Ensemble sings frequently in public, including school events, evening concerts in the Richmond community, and on short choir tours. Prerequisite: One year of chorus. Audition required. (By department selection only)

This class will focus on creating original songs in popular music styles using music production software. Students will develop and arrange musical ideas, improvise melodies, make live recordings, use digital effects, and develop other innovative uses of sound editing technology in a variety of real-world projects.

This class will focus on the teamwork necessary to play music together in a bell choir. Students will learn bell ringing techniques and basic music notation through familiar music, including folksongs, hymns, Christmas carols, Disney tunes, and other melodies. Students will progress to more complex ringing and mallet techniques to play more complicated music, ranging from sacred and classical music to transcriptions of contemporary songs. Tower Ringers will perform in public several times a year.

Dance Courses

Students will focus on learning the basics and history of dance, including Ballet, Modern, Swing, Jazz/Hip-Hop, and Tap. This course is open to students with little or no experience.

Students will refine dance skills at the intermediate level in different dance styles, including Ballet, Jazz/Hip-Hop, Contemporary, and Musical Theatre. This course is for students who have some previous dance experience. A strong focus will be placed on performing opportunities.

Visual and Performing Arts Faculty