Idyllwild Arts Academy Education Teaches Courage


Idyllwild Arts Academy—the only boarding arts high school west of the Mississippi—has helped young people from around the world develop their talents for almost three decades. The wooded 205-acre campus sits a refreshing mile above sea level in Southern California’s San Jacinto Mountains, two hours from Los Angeles and San Diego and within easy reach of several major airports.

The academic faculty teaches a full college-prep curriculum in the morning, and in the afternoon each student receives intensive training from professional artists in one of the following disciplines: Classical Music, Jazz, Songwriting, Visual Arts, Theatre, Musical Theatre, Technical Theatre, Film & Digital Media, Dance, Creative Writing, Interdisciplinary Arts/Fashion Design.

Like the arts faculty, the academic faculty emphasizes participation and creativity, treating their subjects not as collections of facts for memorizing, but as networks of questions for exploring. This means that an Idyllwild Arts Academy education teaches the kind of problem-solving that applies to every part of our lives: How can I approach this piece of music or this play so that it has the greatest emotional impact on my audience? How can I study this classic novel or this long-ago historical event in order to learn something valuable about my relationships with my family or friends or about my place in the wider world?

Yet our outstanding teachers provide no more of an education than our exceptionally diverse student body does. Our students bring their hearts and minds and perspectives and tireless curiosity to Idyllwild from all over the U.S. and about 30 other countries, including China, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Brazil, a number of African nations, and more. Our students develop lifelong friendships with people who look and sound nothing like themselves, while being constantly enriched by the awareness that the same work of art can make a radically different impression on a different set of eyes or ears.

Above all, an Idyllwild Arts Academy education teaches courage. In too many high schools, learning takes a back seat to peer pressure concerning what a student looks like or who his friends are or whom she loves. But Idyllwild attracts students who don’t pressure one another to suppress their individuality—instead, they encourage each other to discover themselves.


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