Visual and Performing Arts

Active participation in an arts program is a critical component in every child’s education. Arts programs enrich students’ lives and provide a vehicle for them to communicate and express human emotion and ideas. In addition, the study of the arts prepares students to be successful in a twenty-first century world that demands innovative thinking and creativity in an increasingly competitive global society.

We believe that all students are capable of growth in the arts and that there are skills and concepts inherent in the arts that cannot be taught in other disciplines. Participation in an arts program allows students to make connections across content areas and cultural boundaries. The New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards for Visual and Performing Arts document begins with the following mission statement:

The arts enable personal, intellectual, social, economic, and human growth by fostering creativity and providing opportunities for expression beyond the limits of language.  (2009)

We support this mission through our instruction aligned to the Core Curriculum Content Standards and to national standards in each arts discipline.

We are a nationally-recognized program, and Princeton High School has been designated a New Jersey Model School in the Arts. Our distinguished faculty members provide sequential instruction in each arts discipline, challenging each student to reach his or her potential. 

Public Events and Performances

The Visual and Performing Arts Department is an integral part of our school community. We are grateful for the tremendous community support for our programs and invite you to attend our many events so that you may experience the incredible and inspiring work of our students.

Arts in Elementary School

The elementary music program engages students in the performance, creation, and response to music, all of which are fundamental experiences in human expression. Each elementary school offers a general music program for all students. Elective programs in band and orchestra begin in 3rd grade, and choir begins in 4th grade. Our students also participate in the BRAVO! program sponsored by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, which brings professional musicians into music classrooms to share their experiences with students. Our Music After School program continues to enhance our instrumental music program by connecting PHS mentors with elementary students across the district. Students across the district participate in artist-in-residence experiences with McCarter Theatre and other community partners. These programs are are generously supported by our PTOs.

The elementary visual arts program allows students to become more aware of the world and its connection to art. Students learn to express their own creativity through their experiences in the art classroom, and they share those experiences in public art shows throughout the school year.   

Arts in Middle School

The middle school performing arts curriculum is an exploratory program encompassing instrumental, vocal, and drama classes. Each discipline develops specific skills that build social, collaborative, and motivational techniques, in addition to fostering creativity and aesthetic awareness. The program includes small and large group instruction with multiple performance opportunities and provides an excellent transition between our performing arts programs at the elementary and high school levels. An after-school drama club produces a fall play and a spring musical each year. 

The middle school visual arts program offers two-dimensional and three-dimensional art experiences, including painting, drawing, and ceramics. The emphasis is on the studio art process as a discipline-based program; art history, art theory, criticism, and aesthetics are incorporated as well. Projects are often presented through a multi-cultural perspective. An after-school art club allows for enrichment in areas beyond the scope of the classroom program. 

Arts in High School

The Performing Arts Department offers a performance-based curriculum in the disciplines of band, orchestra, choir, drama, and dance. The curriculum is sequential, offering a range of courses from fundamental to advanced. The program includes six bands, three orchestras, five vocal ensembles, four levels of drama classes, a dance class, and a comprehensive two- and three-dimensional studio art program, in addition to offerings in AP Art History and AP Music Theory. Included in all courses is a grounding in cultural and historical contexts, as well as aesthetics. Public performances and art exhibitions are held throughout the year; classroom experiences are enhanced by trips to museums and galleries, as well as regional and international performance tours. Princeton High School features a state-of-the-art performing arts center and its own art gallery. 


Patrick Lenihan, Supervisor of Fine and Performing Arts