Arts Certificate

Fine and Performing Arts Certificate

“[Art] is the process by which, in imagining itself and the relation of individuals to one another and to it, a society comes to understand itself, and by understanding, discover its possibilities of growth.”–Robert Penn Warren

The Mission of the Arts Certificate Program

The mission of the Arts Certificate Program is to prepare students who want to pursue a deeper interest in the Arts by developing essential skills as well as an understanding that artistic expression occurs in a larger cultural context. To accomplish this, students explore the arts through introductory courses, choose advanced coursework in an area of concentration, complete an internship, and finish with a capstone project.

The Process

Students can apply for this certificate program as early as the second semester of their freshman year and as late as the second semester of their sophomore year. Exceptions can be made for students who have already fulfilled some of the basic requirements.  Students may begin taking coursework as soon as they enter Upper School.

All certificate candidates must pursue coursework, including basic requirements and a concentration, in their desired track; complete an internship; and propose and execute a Capstone Project relating to their chosen concentration. Students wishing to combine their Capstone Project with the Senior Project and/or another certificate program must get approval from all concerned departments. Students may choose to take the Arts Capstone class in the second semester of their senior year so they have time to work on their capstone project.

Students will choose an advisor from the Arts Committee faculty members. Students will plan the path of coursework, the internship, and the capstone project with the help of the advisor. Students and advisors will also work together to find extra-curricular activities for students to participate in as part of the learning experience. 

During the period that the basic requirements are being met, students will identify an area of interest and their idea for their capstone project. A written proposal for the choice of Capstone project,  and the path to its completion, is due in November of the senior year. 

Credit requirements listed below are minimum requirements, and students may achieve more.

Program Components

Under the guidance of an approved advisor, students will complete each of the certificate program components outlined in the expanding boxes below. Credit requirements listed below are minimum requirements, and students may achieve more.

List of 4 items.

  • Basic Requirements (2 Credits)

    Visual Arts Track:
    • Intro to 2D Design OR Intro to Drawing and Painting (.5 credit) 
    • Ceramics I OR Beginning Sculpture (.5 Credit)
    • Choice of one introductory level performing arts class OR Creative Writing (.5 credit)
    • Art History OR Social Justice (.5 credit)
    Performing Arts Track:
    • Music Theory (.5 credit)
    • Beginning Guitar, Chorus, Theater Tech, OR Sound Tech I (.5 credit)
    • Choice of one introductory level visual arts class OR Creative Writing (.5 credit)

    Creative Writing Track:
    • Creative Writing (.5 credit)
    • Choice of one introductory level visual arts class (.5 credit)
    • Choice of one performing arts class (.5 credit)
    • Art History OR Social Justice (.5 credit)
  • Concentration

    Intermediate/Advanced level in the same medium

    Visual Arts examples: 
    • Path to AP-level art
    • Reaching a leadership role in Graphic Design/Yearbook
    • Multiple years of Intermediate Film

    Performing Arts examples: 
    • Participation in 4 school productions (.5 credit each)
    • AP Music Theory plus at least 1 more music credit
    • Intermediate Guitar and Guitar Ensemble
    • Jazz Ensemble and Advanced Jazz Ensemble

    Creative Writing examples: 
    • Honors English III, Honors English IV, AP English Language, and/or 
    • AP English Literature
    • Independent study in creative writing (up to one credit but limited to one semester
  • Internship

    Must last at least 30 hours; can be in or out of school.

    Must last at least 30 hours; can be in or out of school.

    • Teaching Assistant or Studio Assistant, one semester (This will give the student more than 30 hours, but the whole semester, 60 hours, must be completed if the student wants the internship to appear on their transcript; students must submit an internship proposal if they want the internship to appear on their transcript.) 
    • Set design and creation for one school production, outside of Theater Tech course
    • Editor for RASP
    • Writing Center Consultant
    • Internship outside of school in an arts field, either as part of Junior Internship or something done independently
  • Complete a Capstone Project

    This is a major project outside of regular coursework (work for AP classes does NOT qualify) that requires at least 60 hours to complete; a final presentation is also required.  This is not an internship since Iit must be a self-directed project conceived of and executed by the student with guidance from the arts advisor and/or an outside expert; the student will meet regularly with the arts advisor and/or outside expert for feedback on the project.  Students may use this as their Senior Project provided the student works with an outside sponsor in addition to their arts advisor and satisfies all Senior Project requirements. Students are encouraged to take the Arts  Capstone class so they have time to work on their capstone project.

    Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • Running a gallery exhibition by a visiting artist
    • Creating a body of art work outside of a class
    • Independently designing and creating a set for a production
    • Running an arts camp or after-school project
    • Creating an independent film with a duration of 30 minutes or more
    • Writing an original play and then directing a performance
    • Directing a one-act play for performance
    • Writing and performing/directing an original musical work
    • Preparing and performing a solo performance recital
    • Creating portfolio of creative writing pieces
Highland Arts Certificate presents students with a unique opportunity to dive deeply into an area of specific artistic interest. Whether you are a committed artist or discover your passion through coursework or experiences on the stage, Highland's Arts Certificate program can be custom-tailored to fit your needs and interests.


Please contact Mr. Michael Hughes, Artistic Director, regarding the Arts Certificate at

Highland School is a co-ed independent Pre-K2 to Grade 12 day school located in Warrenton, Virginia.