Visual and Performing Arts: Fine Arts Department

Creating Talented Musicians and Skilled Artists

The Fine Arts Department provides hands-on visual and performing arts education to students at St. John’s Northwestern Academies. The nature of our campus and courses allows our students to have an interactive experience and to put their education on display from an early age. We believe that these qualities make the experience our students will have especially unique.

Mission and Vision

The mission of the St. John’s Northwestern Academies Fine Arts Department is to provide creative curriculum, technical development, and engaging opportunities that will ignite a personal passion for every student enrolled in a fine arts course. Our vision is to instill in our students and community a life-long passion for the performing and visual arts that results in personal and professional artistic pursuits beyond the high school experience. We offer our students an abundance of fine arts courses, both on the Standard College Prep and Honors level, in a variety of visual and performing arts.

Our Main Goals Are To:

  1. Provide our students with a space to express and explore their creativity.
  2. Increase each student’s cognitive development in areas of problem solving, listening, and concentration.
  3. Improve each student’s ability to focus and process new information
  4. Develop the ability to digest feedback and learn from constructive criticism.
  5. Challenge each student to learn something new and embrace different or unfamiliar concepts.
  6. Create a space within academia where students can relax and reduce stress.
  7. Foster student interest in continuing musical and artistic hobbies.

Performing Arts Education – Bagpipes, Highland Drums, and Band

At SJNA, music education goes beyond the traditional classroom or concert venue. Private lessons are provided to all students who sign up for any Band, Bagpipe, or Highland Drumming course. These lessons take place throughout the school day. Once a week, on a rotational basis, students will leave a regular class to attend their private lesson. To make sure that other aspects of a student’s education are not negatively impacted, students will never leave the same class twice over a period of four weeks. Lessons are supplemented with daily rehearsals where the ensemble gathers as a group to practice, improve and rehearse the material that is being learned through each student’s private lessons. This method allows for the greatest level of focus on the learning style, musical aptitude and pace of each student individually, while allowing for the students to grow from one another in the group environment as well. 

Band – The St. John’s Northwestern Concert Band has a history that is as old as our institution itself. From the earliest years of our institution’s history instrumental music education, and providing marching music, has been an essential part of our educational experience. A student in any of our Band classes will learn musical, personal, and leadership education through the art of instrumental music in all wind and percussion instruments. Our band plays a significant role in many of our on campus ceremonies and celebrations, and performs three on campus concerts a year. The band also has the honor of playing in several community parades and events each year.

Bagpipes and Highland Drums – As there are many types of bagpipes, it is necessary to note that piping students will be taught how to play the Great Highland Bagpipe. This instrument has a long history spanning several hundred years, and for more than 150 years has been an instrument played in ensembles with bagpipes and Scottish marching percussion that has its history stemming from a military tradition. The three primary types of percussion are Scottish Marching Snare, Scottish Tenor Drum, and Scottish Bass Drum. These instruments are reminiscent of marching percussion that is found around the globe, but have a construction and playing style whose origin is unique to Scotland and Great Britain. Much like the ensembles that they are designed to play in, these instruments began their metamorphosis into what they are today in the British military. 

See Our Music Program Page For More Information

Visual Arts Education

Through numerous varieties of art mediums, the mission of our visual arts courses is to provide a creative journey that includes exploration, experimentation, art appreciation (historical and contemporary), design thinking, idea generation, and self-expression. This is done by using a combination of pedagogies that revolve around Discipline-Based Art Education (DBAE) and TAB (Teaching Artistic Behavior). Because there are a variety of visual arts classes offered in a limited space, the TAB philosophy is encouraged as much as possible within the constraints of classroom manageability. Students are supported in their art adventures where student choice is offered under an umbrella idea using particular art supplies in relation to the assigned project. The art room is a place where students have the freedom to express their creative side and have fun while enjoying the methodical and mindful art processes.

Our courses promote design thinking and use 21st-century thinking skills. Not only do the visual art courses teach art appreciation and art practices, but also life lessons like working collaboratively, developing organizational habits, meeting deadlines, respecting individual’s opinions, mastering communication and critiquing skills, and being respectful of other students. All important skills necessary to survive post-high school in the workforce or college.

Fine Arts Course Selections


Beginning Band

Intermediate Band

Symphonic Band

Advanced Band Honors


Beginning Bagpipes

Intermediate Bagpipes

Advanced Bagpipes

Scottish Drums

Beginning Highland Drumming

Intermediate Highland Drumming

Advanced Highland Drumming

Visual Arts

Introduction to Art & Design

Painting & Drawing

Freestyle Art

Project Photography



See Our Curriculum Guide for Course Descriptions

Fine Arts Graduation Requirements

College Prep DiplomaHumanities Honors DiplomaSTEM Honors Diploma
1 Fine Art Credit1 Fine Art Credit1 Fine Art Credit
Visual or Performing ArtsVisual or Performing ArtsVisual or Performing Arts