Avenues: The World School is committed to the study of art, design and culture as part of every student’s education. Instruction in the visual arts and design and performing arts teaches vital skills that help students express their ideas about themselves and the world around them. At Avenues New York, talented and experienced teaching artists provide an exciting, comprehensive program of study in the following disciplines: visual arts, design and engineering, instrumental music, vocal music and theater.
We consider every student to be an artist capable of making creative connections between a wide variety of art forms and their academic disciplines. From our youngest learners in the Early Learning Center to our oldest in the Upper Division, students develop skills and techniques that transfer into all of their creative endeavors at school and in life. Divergent thinking, perseverance and problem solving are woven into the arts curriculum to support students as they stretch themselves, expanding their understanding of who they are and what is possible.
In the Early Learning Center, art is emphasized both as a form of tactile play and a means of self-expression. From kindergarten through 5th grade, art is taught exclusively in the immersion language–either Chinese or Spanish–and is also integrated into interdisciplinary project work. Students explore a range of media across a variety of projects, including self-portraiture, still life, puppets, paper making, ceramics and 3-D construction. Lower Division students frequently visit world-class galleries in the Chelsea neighborhood, allowing them to make connections between their own studio projects and the wider world.
In the middle grades, students gain a deep understanding of the artistic process and the cultural and historical role of visual art. They practice a wide range of foundational techniques through investigation of 2D and 3D materials, including drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture and digital art and design. In addition, students reflect on and think critically about their process, craftsmanship and completed projects. Interdisciplinary project work is also a significant part of the studio arts curriculum, helping students become confident makers capable of pulling together insights from various subject areas.
In the upper grades, visual art and design courses are focused on the recognition and development of each student’s creative potential. We see art as a means of exploring, discovering and expressing one’s unique and valuable vision of the world. Visual arts courses emphasize the development of skills and techniques alongside the examination of meaning and intention in art making. In design and engineering classes, students explore the user-centered design process through different media and technologies, including traditional and digital design and fabrication techniques, computer programming, robotics and electronics.
All 9th grade students are required to take the foundation studio class, Introduction to Creative Process. In this class, students cultivate the skills and thinking necessary to realize a project from start to finish in a deep and meaningful way, while appreciating that the process is ultimately what defines the success of the final product. In 10th grade, students choose between a workshop in either visual arts, or design and engineering. In 11th and 12th grade students may choose from a wide range of art and design electives, including film, programming and studio practice.
In the Early Learning Center and Lower Division, music is taught in either Chinese or Spanish as part of the immersion program. From kindergarten to 3rd grade, our program utilizes the eurythmics concepts of the Swiss music educator Emile Jacques-Dalcroze, integrating music, movement and speech in classes that are both highly structured and joyously playful. By 2nd grade, we introduce instrumental work with recorders, chimes and Orff instruments such as xylophones and glockenspiels. This culminates in more formal training in strings, woodwinds, guitar, brass and chorus by 4th grade. Students are formally introduced to drama in 5th grade; prior to that, they perform regularly for their peers during division-wide language assemblies to mark holidays such as Thanksgiving, the winter holidays, Chinese New Year and the Primavera Festival.
In the middle grades, drama classes develop improvisation, dramaturgy and scene study, with a focus on storytelling, physical communication and creative risk-taking. Upper grades students may choose drama workshop or classical drama in practice. The drama program provides multiple performance opportunities throughout the year including cabarets, musicals, plays in Chinese and Spanish, as well as plays written by students and faculty.
From 6th grade, instrumental music is taught in small groups, leading up to two large ensembles in 8th grade: the symphonic band/orchestra and the guitar ensemble. In the upper grades, music is taught through a workshop model and is open to all instruments, including piano and drums; electives include music theory in practice and vocal music. Ensembles are student-driven and repertoire is student selected. Middle and upper grades ensembles perform regularly in and outside of school, including for their peers at lunchtime jam sessions in the cafeteria.
December 8, 2017
Yayoi Kusama Festival of Life show was such a special experience for our pre-K students as they wandered through her “infinity rooms.” The first room in the show is an immersive experience for everyone who visits, and our 4 and 5-year-olds really seemed to connect with it.
December 5, 2017
Last week, having almost completed all high school math curriculum, a group of 12th graders set foot to find beauty outside the classroom. This time, they looked for patterns not in a sequence of math problems, but ones hidden in the works of artists. As a prelude to their yearlong math-art project, students visited galleries in Chelsea. One of the stops was home to works by artist Ruth Asawa.
December 1, 2017
In 5th grade, students take a weekly one-hour class called Fab Five. The Fab Five classes consist of Drama, Journalism, Public Speaking, Creative Computing and Wellness. In the Creative Computation class, students learned to build a computer from scratch.
November 29, 2017
We asked the kids to share what they know about emotions, and then generated a list of all the feelings we know. One child made a quick connection and said, “Hey! Emojis, emotions. They’re like the same thing!” We used this observation to help us draw facial expressions for our own class emojis and then thought about how and why we feel the ways we do.
November 28, 2017
In Spanish class with Profesora Valeria, 8th-grade students are working on the topic “City Life.” Through language study, they make connections with other content areas; compare the language and culture studied with their own; and participate in home and global communities.