Arts in VPS

The arts have a starring role in Vancouver Public Schools! We put the spotlight on visual and performing arts with a decades-long commitment to arts programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For our students, creativity is limited only by the imagination.

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Vancouver Public Schools was recognized in May 2020 with a Best Communities for Music Education award.

Music instruction begins in kindergarten with singing and sound exploration and progresses through fifth-grade developing music techniques and vocabulary with an introduction to musical instruments. Secondary students can pursue and expand their talents in band, choir or orchestra. Music instruction includes competition and performances for the public. Students pursuing music also can perform in mariachi bands, jazz band, chamber music, musicals and theater. In addition to our award-winning high school ensembles, students participating in the most advanced groups receive credit through Career and Technical Education with connections to professionals, mentors, audition preparation, artist resumé and other supporting experiences.


Craving drama? Young thespians can get on stage beginning in elementary school and continuing through middle and high school. Many district schools produce performances each year offering students of all ages starring and supporting parts in a variety of plays and musical productions. Students have the opportunity to learn how to audition, direct, sing, dance and try out different acting styles. Not one to be in the spotlight? For those who prefer a behind-the-scenes role, there are positions in set design, lighting, sound, make-up and costume design.

Dance and creative movement

Unique to VPS, is a weekly dance and creative movement block allowing students to explore high quality dance instruction. Creative movement begins through games, songs and music for our youngest students and advances to elements of movement, beat and improvisation for intermediate students. Dance is offered in several secondary schools in various forms including modern dance, jazz, tap and ballet. Additional options at some of our high schools include color guard and cheer.

Visual arts

Beginning in kindergarten, students learn the basics of art including shape, color and pattern. Building on this foundation, art instruction progressively incorporates media, tools, texture, spatial perception, composition, rhythm and balance. In middle and high school, students learn art history, theory, exhibition skills, studio practice, critique and the emotional impact of art. Students also develop articulation and process skills. High school students can explore photography, pottery, graphic design, drawing, painting, printmaking and more.

Literary arts

Literary arts develop critical reading skills and creative writing. Students can expand literary arts through theater, poetry and advanced English language arts. A variety of writing styles include poetry, journalism, blogging, fiction, nonfiction, advertising and copy writing and technical writing. An engaging and popular activity for literary art students is participation in poetry slams for public reading and performance poetry.

Moving image arts and multimedia

Students can explore the arts through technology by recording sound and visual images. Television production teaches students skills in writing, interviewing and photography. Media art provides writing, directing and interviewing experience for documentary and digital motion pictures. Students learn the elements of space, time, light, motion, color and sound to express perspective, feelings and ideas. They learn to critically interpret and evaluate media within aesthetic, cultural and historical contexts. Students also can pursue graphic design and animation.

Beyond the school day

Before and after-school opportunities for students

VPS offers year-round instrumental instruction to all interested fifth graders in flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, violin, viola and cello. These free classes are offered at the district’s six middle schools with transportation provided from all district elementary schools. Instrument support is available for those in need. Registration occurs in April/May and August/September, and information can be found on school websites.

Creative movement classes are provided twice a year to interested students in grades two through eight. The free eight-week class is offered after school at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics. There are two sessions: September through November and January through March. Registration is in September and information can be found on school websites.

Summer workshops

Free summer arts workshops include theater, visual art, music, composition, dance and more. Students enrolled in Summer Literacy Academy will be provided a valuable arts offering integrated in their academic day. Registration for Visual and Performing Arts Summer Workshops takes place in April/May. Information can be found on school websites.

Contact us

Visual and performing arts


Traci Young

K-12 Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator

Barb Nelson

Special programs clerk

Libby Odren

Special programs clerk


Student gallery

Student artwork - clay figuresure
K-12 students participate in arts
Art teachers

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