High School Fine Arts Courses

There are a wide range of Fine Arts courses offered to pique students’ interests in creative expression. For complete course descriptions, prerequisites and applicable grade levels, please see the course description handbook.

Visual Arts Courses

Ceramics I

Ceramics is an introduction to clay practice with consideration of materials, methods, concepts, and history. Course work covers both hand-built and wheel-thrown techniques in the sculptural and functional realm. Students will develop aesthetic awareness of the ceramic form and surface.

Ceramics II

In this second level of ceramics, students will be asked to develop a body of artwork that reflects a growing understanding of building techniques and surface treatment. A sequential study of wheel and hand building production, ceramic history, aesthetics, and criticism will be continued during this year long class. The development of personal direction and an individual artistic voice will be stressed. Projects will be concept driven, expecting students to be able to visually and verbally demonstrate the intent of their work. Focused time on the potter's wheel will open up a new creative tool, and will continue a dialogue on design and function. Students will have the opportunity to explore how the kiln operates.

Computer Graphics

This computer graphics course will provide students with the opportunity to develop an understanding of the power, precision, creative inspiration and control of computer graphics. Graphic design pushes the boundaries of digital imaging and is a must for students pursuing careers in marketing, business, journalism, PR work, design, advertising, illustration, web design, and video game design. Students will explore Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator Creative Suite 5. Course work will involve the use of Macintosh computers, digital cameras, printers, and various multimedia in individual and collaborative projects. 

Drawing and Painting I

This course introduces students to drawing and painting with attention to understanding and applying the fundamental principles of spatial organization and color theory. Course work covers classroom drawing situations, as well as weekly homework assignments in a sketchbook. Media includes graphite, charcoal, colored pencil, pen and ink, pastels, acrylic and watercolor paint. Students will learn the elements and principles of design. A gallery visit is included as well as the experience of matting finished works of art.

Drawing and Painting II

Drawing and Painting II students are challenged to further develop and refine skills and techniques learned in Drawing and Painting I. Elements and principles of design, color theory and an introduction to personal style are emphasized through deeper development of technical skills. A continued study of art history, aesthetics and criticism will be embedded into the production process. As conceptual options and skill with materials increase, drawing and painting will become a stronger outlet for personal and creative expression.

Digital Photography I

Students will learn the basics of digital SLR camera operation and photo creation. Emphasis is on creating artistic photographs using the elements of art. Students will expand their skills in creating artistic photographs while exploring various experimental photographic techniques. Registrants for this course will be expected to provide a digital SLR camera with manual light and speed adjustments.

Digital Photography II

This course is designed to help the student who has basic technical and aesthetic knowledge to further his understanding of the principles and techniques of photography. In-class critiques will provide feedback on students' work. Students will explore advanced concepts relating to contemporary artistic and photographic practice, with special emphasis placed on portfolio development. Students should expect to provide their own DSLR camera. 

American Studies: Art

This course is integrated into American Studies English and U.S. History and derives themes from these two areas for art subjects. Media study for each quarter includes watercolor, printmaking, portraits, and mixed media.  The lecture component covers the American Vision Series by Robert Hughes as well as The Ash Can group, Hudson River School, Pop Art, Mount Rushmore, The Chrysler Building, The WPA Art Project as well as individual artists such as Winslow Homer, Mya Linn, Norman Rockwell, Edward Hopper, Roy Lichtenstein, Georgia O’Keeffe, Grant Wood, Louise Nevelson, and others as they tell the American story.

Religious Themes in Art and Advanced Morality

Religious Themes in Art explores a variety of spiritual themes and the means artists use to express them. Judeo-Christian traditions serve as the content base. Students will grow in their appreciation of their own spiritual experiences and, above all, will understand themselves as creators. Topics and media include religious symbols, social justice themes, religious leaders, historical leaders, and the computer. The artists of the Renaissance, a field trip as part of a church architecture unit, and the building of a cross complete the semester.

The Advanced Morality seminar uses the maturity of seniors to discuss issues chosen and led by students. The list of possible issues is a long one, but the course covers abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, discrimination, poverty, religious freedom, and other moral and ethical issues of our time that the Pope has highlighted as being critical in today’s society. Using Catholic social teachings and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, students study the principles that define and clarify the Church’s position on these issues in order to illuminate their thought processes. Students are also registered in Advanced Morality.

Music Courses

VISTA Concert Band/STA Military Band

The VISTA Concert Band/STA Military Band is open to any students with prior band experience. The band presents three formal concerts annually and also performs at military ceremonies, athletic and community events. In addition to furthering personal growth as individual musicians, emphasis is placed on creating a unified musical expression by the entire ensemble through large group rehearsals, sectionals, and chamber music. Attendance at a limited number of rehearsals and performances outside the school day is expected of all members. Students may be invited by the instructor to do honors level work placing an emphasis on private lessons or participation in auditioned ensembles that meet outside the normal school day. Learn more about the band...

VISTA Jazz Band

Participation is limited to traditional jazz instruments: saxophones, trumpets, trombones and rhythm section (bass, guitar, piano, drum set.) This course is open to students from both STA and Visitation. The VISTA Jazz Band meets three times weekly during zero hour for full ensemble and sectional rehearsals. Students will study, prepare and perform jazz music from a wide variety of genres and historical periods. VISTA Jazz performs at three formal concerts and other school and community events. 

STA Choir

The STA Choir meets during the school day. The focus of this class is to help young men develop their singing voice through singing and performing many styles of music. Students participate in rigorous daily activities that include study in rhythm, vocal technique, solfege, sight singing and movement. Choir members work together as a team, learning how to perform together in both small and large ensembles. The choir performs at school concerts and events in the community and tours bi-annually with the other VISTA performing groups. Additional information about this program may be found on the Visitation School Web site.

VISTA String Orchestra

Musicians interested in this class must play the violin, viola, cello, or bass, and must have at least two years of playing experience. String Orchestra is an elective that meets as a regular class in the school day schedule. The string Orchestra curriculum focuses not only on developing musical skills, but also on developing an understanding and appreciation of music through the study, rehearsal, and performance of concert repertoire. The string orchestra participates in numerous concerts and special events throughout the school year. Additional information about this program may be found on the Visitation School Web site.

Beginning Guitar

Beginning Guitar is an entry-level fine arts elective course for those students interested in gaining knowledge and skills related to acoustical guitar. Over the length of this course, students will learn the parts of the guitar, chord progressions, scales, strumming patterns, accompaniment figures and arpeggios. By the conclusion of the course, students should be able to play and accompany basic folk and rock songs in their own student-led ensembles. School-owned guitars are available for use during class time and to check-out for at-home practice. Students will receive a grade based upon the following factors: knowledge of the instrument, mastery of basic guitar chords, note reading, scales, and small group ensemble playing.

Music Theory (Independent Study)

Students will improve upon their musical foundation through analysis and study of compositional techniques.  Students will explore use of melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic tools to create music for voice, piano, woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments.

Theatre Courses


This course explores the elements of theatre from the varied perspectives of actor, scenic designer, technical director, choreographer, producer, and director. The class studies the introduction to acting techniques using monologues and scene work, scenic design and how it affects a production, the job of a director, costume design as it defines the character, and the technical aspect of production. The course also looks at roots of drama and the history of musical theater. Additional information about this program may be found on the Visitation School Web site.

Independent Theatre

The area of study is determined by the student and the teacher. Areas of focus may include: acting, directing, scenic design, costume designing, marketing, play writing, or musical theater. An instructor interview is required along with approval from the Director of Academic Life. Additional information about this program may be found on the Visitation School Web site.