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What AAW Students Have to Say – Part 3

What is it like to go to an arts integration high school? One of the best ways to get a feel for the true experience is to read what AAW students have to say.

They’re able to fully and honestly express their own journeys. And each one is unique.


The four years of high school are all about change.

For James Scarborough, AAW helped him not only find his voice, but gave him the ability to speak it with pride, confidence and… volume.

Arts Academy in the Woods turned boy into poet. See, I knew words existed before I stepped into this building and performed my first poem, I knew I had thoughts circulating, and a voice that could be shouted from rooftops. But I didn’t know anyone cared enough to listen. I knew I had talent but didn’t know it mattered; didn’t know teachers could do more than educate, artists could create without limits, and shy kids could explode on dimly-lit stages.

No school is perfect but nothing was ever meant to be. There’s beauty in the imperfections, a flawless nature seen only in flaws, potential in fixer-uppers. Perfection is boring – as is artistic control – neither of which will be found in these four walls. We believe in attempts, trial by error, working until dreams are realities, and the ideas in the backs of our head turning into tangible creations. We work hard, live out loud, and don’t take no for an answer.

We paint, kick, scream, and crawl towards our futures, failure is not an option. We’re supported, got teachers in our corners who can school us on square roots or guitar strings, a staff that sees us for who we are and hurriedly accept our unknown.

Arts Academy in the Woods has been a beautiful struggle, it’s not easy looking at yourself in the mirror and swearing to always one-up yourself, sing louder next time, perform with more power. It’s not easy to pass classes, get through seven hour days, all night concerts, and evening poetry slams. It’s not easy being great, but Arts forces you to anyways.

Arts Integration

Sam Sands is a senior this year.

He looks back on his high school education at Arts Academy in the Woods – recalling how creative freedom and hands-on experiences helped him learn in way that was interesting to him.

Having the power to do what you want in school is a very limited concept. The very nature of school is limited in its creative freedom. At AAW though, we’re able to work creatively with arts integration. Whether it’s collaborations between different departments or just freely working by ourselves, we’re able to do what we love while learning the important information. When done right, it is usually more engaging and fun to work on something hands-on than just doing a worksheet. It also gives students a chance to work on something they usually don’t – like a 2D student doing something with 3D art. It’s a nice breather in between the work. And it’s also a good teaching tool.

A lot of the art integration projects we do are in English while we’re reading a book. We do things like acting out certain scenes in a book with dance and interpreting a theme or book through our medium of choice. But sometimes we do art related things in social studies and science. In science, we’ve created a timeline of evolution. And in social studies, we’ve had multiple projects centered on portraying a certain event in history. There have been plenty more, but those few are just the stand-outs.

The best project I remember was making an ad for a pet rock in Economics. Designing a pet rock and coming up with a video ad to market it was some of the most fun I’ve had with my arts integration education. And the things we learned from that lesson will always stick with me because of it.

Arts integration isn’t perfect by any means, but it is certainly a good way to teach and learn. The things I’ll remember from it will stick with me because I had fun with it. Giving students creative freedom and just freedom in general greatly helps with the learning process. In my experience, it helped the topic stick more than any test or work sheet. I hope the flukes I’ve had with this concept are patched out over time and everyone at this school can experience it for what it should be – a consistently fun and engaging way to learn.

L’Art de Français

For Tess Janish, learning French through art wasn’t about rote memorization. Not only did she learn the beauty of the language, but she grasped a great deal of French history and geography too.

Over my two years in French class at Arts Academy in the Woods, I was a part of four art projects that helped me develop a cultural awareness of France, as well as the geography. I believe that through these projects I learned more about the culture of the French people, which inspired me to learn the language and the beauty of it.

The first of the four projects allowed students to write a paper about a French speaking country and present their writing to the class. We were also encouraged to make a poster, or artistic cover for our presentation. I chose Luxembourg and learned so much about the country through research. I also used pictures of landscapes and other ethnic features to make a collage representing the country itself. The next two projects were very similar – allowing me to explore a city of France, as well as the artist Monet.

My favorite project that I presented in the class was my last quarter project. I chose to do a book report on Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. The book itself has already been turned into many different art forms. It has been a movie, a play, and a musical that is beloved by many. I had personally experienced all of these renditions. But the project allowed me to look at them with more critical eyes; eyes that could now see the importance of their revolution and what it meant to the future of France and its inhabitants.

I believe that the best form of learning gives students the chance to be creative themselves. For my project on Les Mis, I was able to write out a plot summary that explained the history of France. I was also able to learn more about the life of Victor Hugo himself. But not only was I introduced to Hugo, but more French authors that my fellow peers presented. I learned about The Little Prince and its place in society today. I learned about how French poets used Romanticism to get their message across. To put it simply, I learned history through art and presentation.

Arts Academy in the Woods is a place where learning French is not just about learning conjugations and small talk. It’s about fully immersing yourself in culture through art. I believe that had I gone to any other high school, I would not know as much about French artists and history as I do now.

Does Arts Integration Speak to You?

If you’re intrigued by what AAW students have to say, why not find out for yourself what an arts integration school has to offer?

Contact us to set up a tour of the school. And discover how you can learn through art.


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