“In Middle School trimester studio art electives, I focus on teaching a combination of artmaking skills and creative thinking strategies. I aim to set up opportunities for students to simply try new things, to ask questions, to share, and reflect on the artwork they make in class.” 
- Janet Szeto, M/US Art Teacher
Student Life

Middle & Upper School Arts

Visual Arts

The Middle and Upper School Visual Arts Department is an open, creative environment where students in Grades 6-12 have opportunities to explore traditional and untraditional methods of artmaking. Learning about the motivations, processes, and ideas explored by professional artists is an important aspect of studying the visual arts at Roeper.

Courses offered include Painting, Ceramics, Figure Study, Art History, Experimental Sculpture, Drawing, and Printmaking. Independent Studies in Visual arts are also available.

Students’ ever-evolving abilities to contribute creative solutions, collaborate with their peers, and assess their own efforts are a critical part of the program goals.

List of 2 items.

  • 2D & 3D Studio Art

    At the middle and upper schools, we have two classrooms devoted to 2D and 3D arts. Additionally, students have access to digital labs and iPads which allow opportunities to design projects using computer software.

    A variety of courses are offered including:
    • Painting
    • Ceramics
    • Experimental Sculpture
    • Figure Study
    • Printmaking
    • Drawing
    • Graphic Novel Workshop
    • Architecture and 3D Printing
    • Art of Paper Folding
    • Street Art
    • Art History
    • Independent Studies in Visual Arts are available
  • Photography

    Photography encourages students to learn and explore an entirely different type of creative expression. Like all the arts at Roeper, photography instruction strives to create a classroom environment where creative expression through risk-taking is embraced on every level. Whether in the darkroom or the Technology Lab, students learn how to hone their creative interests and use their extensive problem solving skills to produce the finest images possible. In both the darkroom and computer lab, students work independently and come together for group discussions and critiques. The darkroom classes place an emphasis on chemistry and process; the digital classes place an emphasis on navigating challenging computer skills.

    The MS photography class gives students an understanding of the concepts of basic black and white photography. Students construct pinhole cameras and use their cameras outside to expose 8 x10 photographic paper producing a negative image. The students confront the issues of subject matter, depth of field, and exposure time. Once they master these technical aspects, they focus on the aesthetics of photography. There is an emphasis on darkroom techniques, working with chemicals, learning how the enlargers work and how to make positives from their paper negatives. The skills acquired in this class give each student a good foundation for future photography classes.

    The MS digital photography class encourages students to explore a type of photographic process different from the existing middle school “wet lab” photographic offering. This class takes students out of the darkroom and places them in a situation where they are obligated to incorporate technology with image-making. There is an emphasis on aesthetics as well as computer skills. Students shoot Nikon digital cameras and alter their images using the most current Photoshop program.

    US photography is geared toward teaching the student the techniques of standard black-and-white photography. Students are instructed in the fundamentals of camera operation, black-and-white film processing and black-and white enlarging. A portion of the semester is devoted to alternative processes. Students are encouraged to develop their own personal vision within the medium. Class time involves darkroom work, group and individual critiques, demonstrations of new techniques and discussions of prominent issues in the medium. Once the student completes two semesters of regular photography, there is an advanced photography option. The advanced US photography class is designed for students who have exhibited the need to be challenged intellectually and creatively by a more rigorous and demanding course. Students in this class are given much freer reign in terms of setting assignments, choosing what they photograph, and determining how they complete coursework. Students are compelled to take the initiative and the ensuing control of their work; and while there is an emphasis placed on manual camera techniques and darkroom proficiency, the greater goal is for students to see themselves as photographers. There are set projects that include some of the following processes: toning of black and white prints, solarizing, emulsion and image transfers, use of Kodalith film, negative sandwiching, distortion, and the use of liquid emulsion.

    The digital photography class has a shared emphasis between creativity and computer expertise. Students use digital cameras to take photographs and use Photoshop to manipulate the images they have taken. The digital photography class teaches photographic concepts as they apply to digital technology and the use of and ethical considerations when using digital imaging software. After one semester of regular digital photography, students are able to take the skills they have mastered to a new level. The advanced US digital photography class expands to the creation of self-directed projects. Each semester a new syllabus is created by the students and the instructor and is predicated on the knowledge that the skills necessary to produce advanced work have been mastered. There is an expectation that students will draw upon both their creativity and their personal vision as they approach their work.


The study of music develops both the mind and the body and stimulates creative thinking—linking the intellectual, emotional, and physical realms of being. By actively exploring the musical sounds in the world around them, students exercise their capacity to learn while developing expressiveness to the music they hear, perform, and create.

Students gain personal values and awareness to respond with sensitivity to many types of music, as it is a fundamental means of expression in all cultures around the world. In addition, participation in these collective musical activities encourage young musicians to value cooperation, respect for others, and personal responsibility.

List of 4 items.

  • Instrumental Music

    In the instrumental ensembles of the middle and upper schools, students develop an understanding of the elements of music: melody, harmony, rhythm, tone color, texture, and form. On their instruments, students are lead to discover how interpretive controls (tempo, articulation, balance, and dynamics) in conjunction with these musical elements give expressive qualities to the studied pieces of music, and then apply the same knowledge to unfamiliar music.

    Repertoire for the different ensembles is chosen based on the instrumentation within the group, as well as to highlight individual strengths. These performance-based ensembles participate at scheduled concerts and MSBOA festivals throughout the year, as well as observe musical performances given by professional performers in the community.

    • 6th Grade Concert Band
    • Middle School Concert Band (7/8)
    • Upper School Concert Band
    • Intermediate and Advanced String Orchestra
    • Middle School Jazz Band
    • Upper School Jazz Band
  • Vocal Music

    Vocal Music is a dynamic way for Roeper students to express their creativity and empathy through music and their own bodies. A large variety of music is programmed with respect to its historical and stylistic context. Students sing songs in many languages, develop skills for excellent vocal technique, learn sight-reading and participate in concerts as soloists, small ensembles and large groups. Groups compete at Choral Festival and receive top honors (Superior and Excellent).

    Singers in choir learn to value the contributions of each voice as they create a rich, full group sound. Choirs sing a cappella, arrange, compose, collaborate and learn respected choral literature in many genres including pop, jazz, classical, world music and more.

    • Upper School Small Choir (a cappella, audition-only, self-arranging)
    • Upper School Concert Choir (larger group, no audition, competes at Choral Festival)
    • TrebleMakers 6th Grade Girls Choir
    • Harmonia 7th/8th Grade Girls Choir
    • Men of Dissonance 6th/7th/8th Boys Group
  • General Music and Non-Performance Electives

    Roeper students can experience and explore music in a variety of non-performance electives. They listen, compare, arrange, compose, discuss, study and analyze. Students are engaged in multi-sensory and neuro-diverse activities. For any student at Roeper, even those who do not consider themselves musicians, our music program is a welcoming and rewarding experience.

    • Music Theory
    • Basic Harmony
    • Advanced Music Theory
    • The Music of Opera to Broadway
    • Vocal Techniques
    • Music Theatre Workshop - students prepare and perform Music Theatre scenes
    • What's On Your Playlist? - students play and discuss their music preferences
  • Other Vocal Music Performance Opportunities

    • Students can choose to participate in Solo and Ensemble Festival
    • Singers perform the National Anthem for school games and events
    • Groups perform for large-scale Winter and Spring Concerts and at all-School events such as the Martin Luther King, Jr Walk, Senior Showcase Concert, and various assemblies throughout the year.


The heart of the Roeper dance program is that students develop their own choreography, by learning exercises, techniques and concepts and emphasizing improvisation and emotional expressiveness.

The kind of experience fostered by Roeper’s long-standing dance program is one that is especially attuned to the needs of the individual, and to the school's philosophy. In the words of Karen Roeper, daughter of George and Annemarie, “When we see ourselves more kindly and clearly, we can move more powerfully in the world.”

Middle and Upper School Dance courses include:
  • Dance Fusion
  • Jazz Hip Hop
  • Modern Dance

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