Fine Arts Department

Want to learn to play an instrument? Looking to improve your considerable musical talent with fellow students--maybe even start a band? Have a talent in drawing or photography that you want to develop? Are you the next great actor?

The commitment St. Thomas has made to the arts is shown in its newest building, the Moran Fine Arts Center. The center has allowed us to expand the program in new and exciting ways. Not only have our photography, drawing, ceramics and sculpture classes been allowed to grow, but the new facility has allowed us to expand our course offerings in music and drama. Along with our dramatic productions on the St. Thomas campus, our students are also involved in productions at our sister schools – Duchesne Academy, Incarnate Word Academy and St. Agnes Academy.


FUNDAMENTALS OF ART is offered as a foundation course open to freshmen only. Through experimentation with visual language, form-making, project-based learning and a range of increasingly difficult exercises, the foundation experience leads to a deepening awareness and understanding of basic artistic and design-based principles. For many students, The Fundamentals of Art class will be their first experience of working in an environment where a disciplined approach to “art making” and “art thinking” is the focus. The class is important for the development of artistic viewpoints and challenging preconceived ideas and attitudes toward creativity. (One semester)

DRAWING I is an introductory course is skill based and therefore involves much hands-on guided practice. Assignments are structured on working from direct observation as well as abstraction and symbolism. Strong emphasis is also placed on design and composition. A variety of mediums are used, such as graphite, ink, charcoal, colored pencil, block printing and collage. (One semester)

DRAWING II is a course designed for the student who has already mastered the basic concepts and skills of Drawing I and is confident enough to be more independent in the development of complex compositions. Both color and mixed media are used in Drawing II. Art research, knowledge of art historical movements, and personally based imaginative assignments are integrated into the curriculum. Prerequisite: Drawing I and recommendation. (One semester)

DRAWING III extends the basic understanding from the Drawing I course and the developed skills in the Drawing II class. In the class the student will explore more complex and challenging assignments. Students may experiment with various drawing mediums, develop in depth subject matter and compositions and work with a variety of papers and sizes. Prerequisite: Students must have earned a 90 or above in the Drawing II class and recommendation. These Drawing III students may be placed in a Drawing I or Drawing II class to facilitate that student’s schedule. (One semester)

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of digital photography as an art form. Students will receive instruction for each assignment through lectures, demonstrations and samples of desired outcomes. Individual reflections and class critiques will be used to dig deeper and think more critically about their work, the work of their peers, and past and contemporary photographers. Areas of study include architecture, stop motion animation, digital portraiture manipulation, night photography and sports/action. (One semester)

DIGITAL GRAPHICS/ANIMATION will expand their knowledge and challenge the creative skills they developed in Digital Photography I. This class will explore how the visual arts and technology come together to effectively communicate ideas through design, typography, digital imaging and animation. The course will address the role of digital graphics in our everyday world. Prerequisite: Students must have earned an 80 or above in Digital Photography I and recommendation. (One semester)

CERAMICS I introduces students to the possibilities of creating functional creative handbuilt projects. The emphasis of craftsmanship and individual three-dimensional design will be stressed while producing unique one-of-a kind ceramic art. Various glazing techniques will be taught and students will apply different types of glazes to achieve the utmost appearance for each individual project. A few projects students will create are; large bowls, tall vases, platters, bottles and other challenging functional pottery. (One semester)

CERAMICS II expands the ceramic knowledge and creative talents that were introduced in Ceramics I class while introducing advanced handbuilding and introductory wheelthrowing techniques to construct larger and more complex assignments. Students will be introduced to basic pottery wheel throwing techniques by using an electric pottery wheel. Emphasis will be to refine creative techniques of handbuilding while exploring the possibilities of wheelthrown pottery. All ceramic pieces will be bisque fired and glazed fired with traditional and alternative glazes. Prerequisite: Students must have earned an 80 or above in Ceramics I and a recommendation. (One semester)

CERAMICS III will allow students to explore a wider variety of ceramic construction from the basic knowledge of working in clay and creating complex functional utilitarian forms in Ceramics II. Students will create between six to eight functional ceramic projects. This course is designed for the student to work independently and develop a theme of his own portfolio of highly crafted ceramics. Each student will experiment with a variety of projects, glaze applications and kiln firings. Prerequisite: Students must have earned a 90 or above in the Ceramics II class and have approval. These Ceramic III students may be placed in a Ceramics I or Ceramics II class to facilitate that student’s schedule. (One semester)

PRINTMAKING I is an introductory course in which students learn basic printmaking techniques including etching, collagraph, silk-screening and relief while also learning the history of the medium. Students will learn about the possibilities and production of multiple like images while developing their artistic skills. (One semester)

PRINTMAKING II is a course in which students continue to learn printmaking techniques and develop their skill in processes such as etching, collagraph, silk-screening and relief. Students will work in editions while developing their artistic skills and personal concept. This course will delve into mixed media processes, working on a larger scale, printing on alternative materials and exploring how printmaking can have a role in social justice. (One semester)

ART HISTORY is open to all students and provides an introduction to the history of art from the prehistoric age through contemporary trends of today. Through a chronological approach students will learn to recognize different styles of art and the most important artists. The audio-visual presentations in the classroom will be enriched with visits to the Museum of Fine Arts-Houston and the Menil Collection. (One semester)

BAND produces the St. Thomas Eagle Band. Students study and perform a variety of musical styles in the band repertoire. The band performs at football games, concert performances, festivals, and local concert tours. Prerequisite: At least one year experience with a woodwind, brass or percussion instrument.

BEGINNING BAND provides class instruction for students with no previous musical training. Class instruction at the beginning level provides a supportive, motivating setting which allows the student to develop the skills necessary to perform at the more advanced level of the St. Thomas Eagle Band. By the end of one semester, the student will enroll in the regular Band course.

ORCHESTRA course produces the St. Thomas String Ensemble. The class is offered to students who show an interest and willingness to learn their choice of violin, viola, cello or bass. The orchestra performs at concert performances and festivals. There are no prerequisites and students at the beginning level are welcome, but some musical knowledge is highly recommended.

JAZZ BAND is an elective course that allows the student to study and perform the many varieties of jazz, swing, Latin, funk and rock music. The class includes instruction in improvisation, and provides a venue for guitarists, pianists, and bassists. Prerequisite: Enrolled in Band or Orchestra and recommendation.

HONORS BAND (Open to juniors and seniors) is an in-depth study for students with a greater interest in music and music theory. In addition to the requirements of the Band or Orchestra class, students must participate in All-State, solo/ensemble competitions, attend all sessions on music theory, and produce an honors project each semester. Prerequisite: Recommendation and audition.

VOCAL ENSEMBLE is open to all students interested in singing. The student will be introduced to proper vocal techniques (voice range, diction, pitch) through both solo and ensemble settings. The students will perform at Mass, in concert, and participate in All-State and solo/ensemble competitions.

MUSIC HISTORY is a course open to students who are interested in music history and how it reflects the culture in which it is created. Specific artists from each period who demonstrate the key movements in music as well as identifying key musical instruments, forms, and terms will explored. (One semester)

ADVANCED PLACEMENT (AP) MUSIC THEORY is designed to provide a college level Music Theory course including aural, written and performance-based components. Students develop the ability to sing melodies on sight and to notate music that they hear. They will learn the grammar of musical notation and analysis, how to meaningfully analyze melodic, rhythmic, harmonic and structural elements of music in words and with symbolic notation. Students will take the national AP exam in May. Pre-requisite: a background in instrumental or vocal music and recommendation.

THEATER I introduces students to the world of theater. Onstage practice and performance practice of stage movement, vocal technique, and improvisations prepare students to bring both scripts and characters to life. Students perform dramatic monologues, pantomimes, and duet scenes. Additionally, students participate in all aspects of a typical theatrical production by seeking out props, discovering motivations for actor, developing sound effects, creating costumes, designing a set, and ultimately producing a one act play. (One semester)

THEATER II continues the introduction of Theater I, including onstage practice, performance, stage movement, vocal technique, and improvisations. A significant portion of the class focuses on self-evaluation (with the aid of video), but students also attend and evaluate performances in the Houston Area theater. Additionally, students will develop workshop ideas, original monologues, and playwriting techniques. The final project is a collaborative creation and production of a one act play/film. Prerequisite is Theater I. (One semester)

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