Notes on programming at The Arts Academy

Six habits of mind at the school frame our curriculum: Imagination, Communication, Empathy, Perspective, Analysis and Commitment. These habits of mind or core values are integral to curriculum and instruction. They promote critical thinking, problem solving, and analysis in anything studied. Just as John Dewey believed that knowledge is acquired by doing, we emphasize a studio or laboratory approach for learning that must include essential questions tied to real application.

Web 2.0 tools are used in curriculum and instruction at the school and each classroom is equipped with Promethean boards to support that work. Although we offer media arts, graphic arts, fine arts, theatre, dance, and music, as majors, there is an expectation that the tenets presented in art areas are integrated across the curriculum. Collaboration among faculty members is encouraged and necessary. It is the belief of the Arts Academy that collaboration is essential to successful teaching and learning.

Honors classes are offered in the 11th and 12th grades, as well as AP English, AP Calculus, and AP Physics. Electives are also available for 12th graders in Music Technology and Theory, Creative Writing, Ceramics, Dance Technique and Composition, and Forensic Science to name a few.


The Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush is a student-centered community that encourages 
intellectual growth and curiosity while promoting academic excellence in and through the arts

Rush Arts Core Values:

  • Imagination
  • Communication
  • Empathy
  • Perspective
  • Analysis
  • Commitment



Jazz Ensemble  (By Audition: 10th-12th grades)

Students will engage in performing various musical styles and techniques not found in the traditional band and orchestra settings, such as jazz, blues, Latin, rock and funk. The goal of this course is to provide the fundamentals of improvisation, harmony and critical listening skills crucial to the art form.
Students will also create and perform their own original arrangements and pieces of music.
The Jazz Ensemble will be involved in public and school performances, including performances outside of school.

Dance Appreciation  (12th grade only)

Students will learn the basic principles of various forms of dance including Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Ballroom, African, Hip-Hop and other World Dance Traditions. We will study the historical and cultural aspects of dance as well as analyze dance in our society through interdisciplinary studies.  The main component of the course will be the willingness to engage physically in dance and the secondary component will be reading and writing about dance.  In the end the student will develop an awareness and appreciation for dance in society, learn kinesthetically and become physically fit in the process.

Graphic Design (Visual Arts Majors)

The Graphic Arts elective will explore all aspects of the commercial arts as they relate to commerce and the entertainment industry.  Students will begin by studying the basic foundations of drawing, cartooning, and illustration.  They will move from hand created work to digital production using Adobe Photoshop and Flash.  The second half of the course will focus on animation techniques such as hand-drawn/traditional, claymation, and cut paper through the use of story development.

Chamber Singers  (11th and/or 12th grade)

Chamber Singers is an elective open by audition to music-major and non-music-major students.  This course is meant for students with a passion for music and singing.  In this course we will study and perform choral literature composed and arranged for chamber ensembles, with an emphasis on contemporary works.  In this course, students will study and perform a wide range of genres from different time periods and cultures.  The course will also focus on proper singing technique, music notation, and solo performance.

Honors English (11th grade)   and AP English (12th grade)

  1. Recommendation from English teacher.
2. Overall GPA of 3.0 or letter written by the student explaining why they want to take the Honors English class and what they can offer to the class as a whole.
3. Writing sample that analyzes the theme, a character, or a symbol used in a novel, short story, or play.
(This will be assessed with AP Lit and Comp scoring guidelines that can be found here:
4. Students who have taken an AP course in their free time will be given priority.)

Pre-Calculus (11th or 12th grade)

AP Calculus  (For students in 12th grade who took and did well in pre-calculus junior year)

AP Physics (12th grade)

11th grade students must take pre-calculus if they take both Algebra 1 and Geometry in 9th grade or Algebra 2 and Geometry in 10th grade.  The only reason a student would take both Algebra  and Geometry in the same year is to be eligible to take AP Calculus during senior year.  The 53 minute lunch will be used for the additional math class and lunch will be provided during advisory.

Students who double up in math their 9th or 10th grade year must take Pre-calculus in their junior year. There are no exceptions.

School District of Philadelphia High School Promotion and Graduation Standards

  1. General Promotion Guidelines
(minimal amount of credits)
1. Promotion from grade to grade should be based on credits earned:
• Promotion to 10th grade – 5 credits
• Promotion to 11th grade – 11 credits
• Promotion to 12th grade -17.5 credit or sufficient number of
credits to reach 23.5 by the end of 12th grade
  2. A passing grade at the high school level is described as a D or
higher (65 or higher).
  3. General Graduation Guidelines
  4. A Grade 12 student shall graduate if he/she has
  • Has earned a total of 23.5 credits, which include:
    • 4  credits in English
  (English 1, 2, 3, *4)
    • 3 credits in Mathematics
  (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry )
    • 3 credits in Science
 (Biology, Chemistry, Physics )
    • 4 credits in Social Studies
 (World History,  American History, African American History, Social Science)
2 credits in World Language
   (Spanish 1, Spanish 2)
    • 2 credits in Arts and Humanities
 ( *Art Major)
    • 1 in Physical Education
.5 in Health
    • 4 credits in electives  (One elective must be in Math or Science, *Art Major, and one additional elective of your choice )

* A student’s art major at Rush will satisfy the district’s arts and humanities requirement as well as 2 additional elective requirements.

  • Completed Multidisciplinary Project in Social Science class.