Course Description Guides for 2016-2017 (“Course Guide”):

High School Course Description Guide 2016-2017

Middle School Course Description Guide – 2016-2017

GCAA High School Registration Form/Packet

GCAA High School Registration PowerPoint



Grand Center Arts Academy is a school that meets the demands of our students intellectually by challenging them with rigorous academic classes as well as placing precise emphasis on the visual and performing arts.  We are a college preparatory school and expect our graduates to go on to further education.  Our courses meet all Missouri state standards and requirements.

GCAA’s unique curriculum fuses academics with the arts in order to create well-rounded young people who will be assets to their communities. Teachers work together to bring arts alive in the academic classrooms, while artistic teachers strive to show their students that discipline in academics is as important as discipline in the arts.  At our school, a well-rounded artist is also a well-rounded student.  Our students look at the world as a creative as well as structured place, because that is what they see all around them in the classrooms.

At the high school level, our academic courses will include Advanced Placement classes as well as dual-enrollment levels.  We encourage our students to go beyond the minimum requirement and challenge themselves, so that when applying to higher-level institutions, they’ll stand out from the rest.  Students will not leave this school claiming that our classes are “too easy.”  Teachers work hard to continually challenge and inspire students to reach academic success. We invite you to check out our curriculum and learn how we are working to help students become both talented artists and successful learners.  This is definitely not your typical school. We invite you to learn more.


Middle School Literacy

The Grand Center Arts Academy middle school literacy program will use McDougall Littell Literatureas the core curricular program to provide an exceptional selection in classic and contemporary literature with a balance of fiction and non-fiction.  Students will be exposed to increasingly complex texts, in both content and structure.. The course sequence meets Missouri Grade-level Expectations and Show-Me Standards for Communication Arts. The program is designed to provide students the reading and writing skills needed for strong academic achievement on the Communication Arts Missouri Assessment Program (MAP). In addition, the literature included in our core program provides many opportunities for seamless integration of the arts into instruction.

Beyond the obvious instances of excerpts from drama or the use of art works to illustrate particular stories, articles, poems, and other genres, there will be ample opportunities for students to think of creative ways to read and interpret the literature, whether it is in reading in character the dialogue from a short story, exploring the character’s motivation and personality through extended writing activities that an actor might use to build backstory for his or her character, using drawing or graphic design to elaborate on mood or setting, reciting or illustrating poems, designing posters for key concepts in a persuasive essay, or any number of other creative application of the arts to literature and writing assignments.

Students exiting the middle school literacy program will be able to read and comprehend multiple texts, both fiction and non-fiction, encompassing a breadth of genres (short stories, drama, poetry, articles from newspapers and magazines, websites, reviews, memoirs, expository and persuasive essays, and workplace documents) and will be competent using multiple comprehension approaches to those texts. Students will exit with strong vocabulary skills enabling them to approach future high school texts with confidence, and with strong writing skills for clear communication across content areas.

Middle School Math

The Grand Center Arts Academy middle school mathematics program  provides the sequence needed for students to accomplish ambitious academic standards, prepare all students for the complexities of high school mathematics, and enter the world of personal finance with skill and confidence.  The mathematics curriculum at Grand Center Arts Academy will consist of applied arithmetic, pre-algebra, algebra and pre-geometry. Students will receive the appropriate background in algebra and geometry necessary to be successful with more advanced work in high school.  The course sequence meets Missouri Grade-level Expectations and Mathematics Show-Me Standards. The program design will launch a flexible curriculum from middle school through high school that will consistently emphasize connections within mathematics and create links to other disciplines as well.  It also contains the latest effective technology with interactive text online and CD-Rom, and the inclusion of scientific calculators and manipulatives kits to explore math concepts concretely.

The program will provide students the needed mathematics computation and problem solving skills.  While mathematics may seem less immediately adaptable to the arts than social studies or literature, it has more opportunities for arts infusion than most people might assume. In addition to geometric shapes and conceptual thinking, there is also graphing, modeling, logic, sequencing, measurement, proportions and ratios, and other high-level math concepts that lend themselves to arts-based thinking and activities.

A major strength to the mathematics program will be providing the option for mathematically inclined students to move through the curriculum at their own pace and enroll in Algebra in grade seven or eight.

Students work toward mastery in three ways: by reviewing, maintaining and building upon previously learned skills; through direct, explicit instruction of new content, mathematical thinking and vocabulary; and by applying, reinforcing and demonstrating cumulative learning. Content is not confined to isolated chapters as concepts from every topic and math strand are woven together and connected throughout the year to build the big math ideas. Student learning is reinforced, retention increased, and foundations are strengthened to support higher levels of achievement.

Middle School Science

Effective instruction in science requires hands-on-experience and observation to teach science content knowledge and motivate students toward higher level science courses. The science sequence aims for intensive and selective study of physical, life and earth sciences, including various kinds of learning activities, traditional lab work and computer simulations to meet the needs of all types of student learners.  The course sequence meets Missouri Grade-level Expectations and Show-Me Standards for Science. In addition, the program is designed to provide students the science content and thinking skills, including writing about science, needed for strong academic achievement on the Science Missouri Assessment Program (MAP).  Science programs, such as this, emphasize a hands-on approach to scientific understanding also lend themselves to arts connections. For example, observation in the field of science requires the same precise and disciplined attention required of drawing students. Illustration, experiment design, concept and process mapping, anatomy, pattern recognition, and imagination are arts related skills keenly linked to scientific study.

We teach Science content with a focus on inquiry based instruction  and we also use technology to provide hands-on experiences and investigation opportunities needed to provide students with multiple experiences to enhance understanding, and science knowledge.

Middle School Social Studies

Social studies course projection for Grand Center Arts Academy will lead middle school students through curriculum that meets Missouri Curriculum Development for Social Studies requirements as described by Missouri Grade-level Expectations and Show-Me Standards for Social Studies: Missouri Standard 1: Constitutional Democracy, Missouri Standard 2: American History, Missouri Standard 3: World History, Missouri Standard 4: Principles and Processes Governance, Missouri Standard 5: Economic Concepts, Missouri Standard 6: Elements of Geographical Study and Analysis, Missouri Standard 7: Tools of Social Studies Inquiry.

The curriculum materials selected for Grand Center Arts Academy will allow the school to customize the program in accordance with Missouri middle school course sequencing and with the designs of its art infusion program.

Students engage in the content in a variety of ways that promote active learning and deep understanding. Students will work with both primary and secondary sources, as well as engage in a variety of critical thinking and writing applications of their understandings and content knowledge. The disciplines in the social sciences, including but not limited to history, provide ready opportunities for arts infusion. Art plays a vital role in all cultures, past and present, and for many of the cultures featured in the GCAA social studies curriculum, their contribution to the arts is among their primary contributions to world civilization.  Art, architecture, poetry, drama, sculpture, music not only help us understand the period and people we are studying but help us to see how their contributions both influence society today and speak to the universal in our common humanity. The many threads available for art to illuminate social studies and social studies to contextualize and inspire art are apparent.



The initial courses in Visual Art, Music, Theater and Dance are designed to encourage student exploration of the world of the arts in the middle school years.  They are intended to help students determine the areas that they would like to more deeply explore in their early high school years.

Students in the middle school will begin to explore the arts throughout their curriculum. They are expected to take specific courses in all the arts, courses that feature an active, hands-on approach. Even in their academic courses, however, the curriculum has been developed to incorporate educational approaches employed in the arts, and the schedule maximizes the arts and academic connections. In both the middle and high school, these approaches  include an emphasis on differentiated instruction, skill development through coaching, performance based assessment, individual and collaborative work, creative and critical thinking, and open-ended inquiry.

Students in the high school, starting in 2012-13, will continue to enjoy a curriculum that integrates arts and academics. Moving from the middle school exploratory philosophy, students will begin to sub-specialize in the 9th and 10 grades, and then choose a major in their junior and senior years. Grand Center Arts Academy educates the whole child by fostering the development of perception, conceptualization, sensitivity and creativity, along with providing for continuity and increasing depth of course offerings in each art area. The school provides an educational atmosphere conducive to the development and nurturing of creative and artistic talent.

To enhance the performance component of the arts program, under the direction of the Director of Arts and Community Partnerships, students at Grand Center Arts Academy enjoy ongoing relationships with major cultural institutions in St. Louis, such as Dance St. Louis, The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Jazz St. Louis, Metro Theater Company, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, Craft Alliance, The St. Louis Black Repertory Company, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Sheldon Arts Foundation, the Nine Network (KETC), Cinema St. Louis,  and others. Students have regularly participated in projects and classes at many of these institutions and organizations.

Partnerships with these local arts and cultural partners are a component of the arts programming for students in GCAA in addition to the arts instruction they will receive from their certified Arts Specialists throughout their school day.  The Director of Arts and Community Partnerships provides leadership for the school and the Arts Partners, ensuring seamless delivery of services and support to the organizations.  The Director also coordinates student internships with participating Arts Partners.

Visual Art

The Visual Art department will create a supportive and challenging arts environment for students that enable them to experience, first hand, the discipline, knowledge and seriousness that lead them to a career in the visual arts.  Students are introduced to art history and the principles of artistic form by artist-teachers and visiting artists, who, through their teaching, serve as mentors to the student artist.  In two- and three-dimensional studio classes, visual art students are encouraged to concentrate on technical proficiency, creative problem solving and self-discovery.  This focused exploration increases confidence and allows students to stay open to new possibilities and to become increasingly self-directed.  In critiques, students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of art history and more accurately assess their own work and the work of others. With the knowledge they will gain at GCAA, students will leave with a portfolio that reflects work that is technically sound and that expresses their personal point-of-view.

Specific courses offered in Visual Art at GCAA:  Foundations of Visual Art, Drawing, Painting, Ceramics, Sculpture, Printmaking, Video Production, Story Boarding, Multimedia Studio, Photography, Art History, Animation, 2D Design, 3D Design, Digital Media, Photography, Graphic Design, Art History, Art Criticism.


The Dance Program of the Grand Center Arts Academy will maintain a supportive, rigorous and challenging dance atmosphere that prepares students for the requirements of today’s professional dance world.  The knowledge, discipline, creativity and serious nature of the dance program will aid students in advancing their education in conservatories, universities and colleges, thus enabling them to prepare for careers in dance.    The instructional program will utilize the artist-teacher instructional concept, thus allowing students to have the advantage of knowing and experiencing dance as an art.  Visiting artists will help serve as role models and guides to dance students, so they may have a clear outlook about their career choices.  With the knowledge gained at GCAA, students will become technically sound, confident and disciplined for any future they aspire to achieve.

Specific courses offered in Dance at GCAA:  Foundations of Dance,  Ballet, Modern Dance, Tap, Jazz, Dance Theory and Terminology, Character and Ethnic, Contemporary, Dance Survey, Concert Dance, Composition, Audition Prep, Elements of Performance, Choreography, Dance History, Nutrition, Injury Prevention.

Theatre Arts

The Theatre Arts program will provide training in Drama, Musical Theatre and Theatre Design.  The program will include a cultural consciousness that spans contemporary playwrights, world theatre, and classical texts.  The curriculum will focus on the cultural history of theatre, a progression of study in acting performance, text analysis, directing and playwriting as well as production elements that include set, costume and lighting design, as well as opportunities to hone their skills in collaboration with the leading theatres in the St. Louis area.

Specific courses offered in Theatre at GCAA:  Foundations of Theatre, Dramatic Literature, Theatrical Vocabulary and Concepts, Stage Craft, Musical Theatre, Improvisation, Scene Study, Costume Design, Rehearsal and Performance, Voice and Diction, Acting, Theatre and Cultural History, Fundamentals of Directing, Set Design and production, Playwriting, Directing, Careers offstage (tech. production), Business of Theatre, Auditioning.


The Music Department will provide training in instrumental and vocal music.  The music curriculum is designed to develop and maintain the total musicianship of all students.  Applied music (study in technique, sight-reading and repertoire) is the core of the curriculum.  General musicianship courses such as theory, ear training and style history will serve to build a more effective performer.

Specific courses offered in Music at GCAA:  Foundations of Music, Choir, Instrumental Ensembles, Group and Individual lessons, Music Appreciation, Strings, Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion, Voice, Piano/Keyboard, Guitar, Jazz studies, Music Theory, History of Music, Opera, Composition, Auditioning.