The Arts

Center for the Arts


Opened in 2004, the Michael A. Hughes Center for the Arts is a state-of-the-art facility that features The Rice Theater, the Lise Hicklin Black Box Theater, a dedicated art gallery, and studio spaces that our faculty use to offer a variety of arts and music classes.
The 24,000 square foot facility is one of the top performance and rehearsal facilities in the region and offers dedicated spaces for music, drama, and fine arts that are professionally equipped to encourage creativity and maximize the student experience.

Music programs include guitar, jazz, and chorus

Located on the ground floor of the Michael A. Hughes Center for the Arts are dedicated music rooms. There is a large chorus room with a grand piano and a range of video and audio equipment available to students. There is also a dedicated recording studio for voice and music studies. Adjacent to the chorus room is the instrumental room, a large rehearsal area for Highland's guitar and jazz ensemble programs. Across the hall from these rooms are several small practice rooms. 

Dramatic and musical theater are a focus at Highland

The drama facilities in the Michael A. Hughes Center for the Arts provide an excellent training ground for Highland students. At the heart of the complex is The Rice Theater. This 355-seat auditorium includes the main stage with a 24x26 performance area. In the wing area is a Stage Manager's station with full communications to the control booth, stage-left area, and dedicated green room, a space for the actors and performers to apply make-up, don costumes in the two adjoining dressing rooms, and relax prior to a performance.

Lise Hicklin Black Box Theater

On the north side of the Green Room is the Lise Hicklin Black Box Theater, an intimate theater space that can accommodate an audience of about 60. This space is used for small-scale and experimental theater as well as small one-act plays, monthly Coffee House music performances and other intimate events. The lighting and sound equipment is sophisticated and designed specifically for the small space.

Professional lighting and audio systems

Professional lighting systems in both The Rice Theater and the Black Box Theater can be raised, lowered, and repositioned to enable students to gel, aim, and focus lights at the stage level. In The Rice Theater, there are a total of 96 dimmers, both on stage and in the house itself. This provides excellent lighting coverage and capabilities for any production.

The sound system is custom built by JBL and includes 17 speakers supplying 32,000 watts of sound power. All the lights and sound equipment are controlled from the control booth. There is also a dedicated control area at the rear of the auditorium. These areas are equipped with the best lighting and audio control equipment available.

A dedicated arts staff across all divisions 

The Fine Arts staff is led by Michael Hughes, the Chair of the Fines Arts Department and the Artistic Director of the Michael A. Hughes Center for the Arts. Mr. Hughes teaches Music Theory, and AP Music Theory. Ivy Cole teaches music in the Lower School. Ben Grove teaches instrumental and vocal music in the Middle and Upper Schools. David Fatula teaches Beginning Guitar, Intermediate Guitar, Guitar Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble.

Hub for 2D and 3D arts classes

Highland School is committed to educating the whole person and the Visual Arts program at Highland reflects this philosophy. Lindsey Dengel, an alum from the class of 1989,  teaches 2D Art for grades 8-12. Christian Ives teaches 2D Art in grades 5-12 and 3D Art in Grades 9-12. Alice Laimbeer teaches art in the Lower and Middle Schools.

Our Michael A. Hughes Center for the Arts features a spacious 2D art room with plenty of natural light, large work areas with professional drawing tables, and spacious storage. Next to this area is the 3D art room. Here, students work with clay and other forms of sculpture and have access to a state-of-the-art kiln in its own room for firing the finished work. Middle School and Upper School students have access to these facilities.                                                

We offer beginning, intermediate and Advanced Placement classes in general art, drawing and painting, photography, and ceramics. In addition, graphics and animation are taught in our computer labs. Students can exhibit their best work both in the art center and in the community.


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