We believe that wholehearted participation in the arts is an essential part of a rich, satisfying life. That’s why, at every stage of a Seven Hills education, we engage our students in an immersive arts experience.
Seven Hills is one of a few schools that require yearlong courses in all three arts disciplines (visual art, drama, and music), for two periods a day, through eighth grade. Moreover, while students in our Upper School must complete at least three semesters in the arts, the vast majority far exceed this requirement.
Beyond the required courses, a host of engaging elective courses round out our students’ arts education; drawing, digital design, singing, acting, playing instruments, or sculpting—no matter the medium, we help students access their unique points of view and learn to express themselves confidently and imaginatively.
Moreover, in our extensive performance program, though guided by our expert faculty, our students assume a remarkable degree of ownership for the success of their musical and theater productions and visual arts exhibitions. At every stage, students take the lead, working together to make the hundreds of artistic choices that shape the finished product. Done this way, participation in the arts fosters a strong sense of responsibility and commitment, compelling students to work together toward a common goal.
In each division, dedicated performance spaces and state-of-the art technical resources support students’ emerging creativity and sophistication and provide showcases for joyful community events. To further enrich the experience, our teachers prepare students for a host of off-campus performances, traveling exhibitions, tours, and competitions so that our student artists can display their talents to a wider world.
The value of an arts education is instilled in our youngest students, as pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners take lessons in visual arts, drama, and music. In these classes, we emphasize building self-esteem and the importance of self-expression, while laying the groundwork for an appreciation of the arts. Students take creative risks and challenge themselves in a variety of artistic mediums.
Equipped with professional stage lights and ample resources for inventive costuming and sets, The Red Barn on the Hillsdale Campus and the stages of the Doherty and Founders Hall “cafetoriums” are the designated spaces for Lower School drama productions. Students in both divisions perform traditional class plays, as well as choral and instrumental recitals, giving all of our students multiple performance opportunities that supplement the formal instruction they receive in visual arts, music, and drama.
Lotspeich and Doherty students delight in their weekly drama classes with our dedicated Lower School drama teacher, reveling in these opportunities to hone their performance skills. For our youngest students, our drama teacher focuses on improvisation games and practices, allowing students to make their own stories and tell them on stage.
In their visual arts class, Doherty kindergarteners participate in an all-ages art installation that goes hand-in-hand with Cultural Connections week. Students study a country throughout the year, then replicate a signature landmark in art class. During a study of Egypt, all of Doherty pitched in to recreate the Nile River. Kindergarteners filled the river with 3-D fish, making an important contribution to this all-school arts project.
An array of instruments is on display when Schoolhouse Symphony visits our Lotspeich Lower School. Schoolhouse Symphony, a Cincinnati organization that brings music to life, visits Seven Hills’ pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners to teach them about instruments, instrument families, and how sound is made. The musicians play a variety of songs, both as an ensemble and solo, and encourage students to become a part of this hands-on lesson.
The Sassmannshaus Tradition is a staple of Lotspeich Lower School’s music program. Offered during After the Bell, our after-school enrichment program, students study the violin—embarking, for some, on a journey with this instrument that may take them through their senior year in the Upper School.
Each year students take sequenced classes in visual arts, drama, and instrumental and choral music. In the visual arts, students engage their imaginations in creative projects like paintings, stained glass, masks, mosaics, sketches, cut-paper designs, calligraphy, self-portraits, and chalk drawings. Students also have the opportunity to step out of the classroom through art trips to the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Taft Museum, and the Contemporary Arts Center. The Doherty Art Show features a robust visual arts exhibition that displays the extensive and exciting work of our students for the community.
Every student from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade participates in a formal drama class as well many other performance opportunities. At Seven Hills, we believe drama classes and performances teach problem solving and collaborative skills, as students overcome challenges in both small group scenes and more extensive plays. Students begin to understand the connection between storyboard ideas and staging a finished play, as well as how their own role on stage fits in with the larger performance.
By the time students reach fourth and fifth grade, they can read and play music in 4/4 and 6/8 meter; read musical symbols, notation, and terms; and play chords. At this age, students also have access to supplemental instrumental music classes offered before and after school. Music also begins to blend with the drama productions, culminating in the fifth-grade musical, which always plays to a packed house.
Our Middle Schoolers participate in two art periods per day, including yearlong required classes in visual arts, drama, and music. As the sophistication of the material begins to increase, students’ involvement in the design and technical work does as well, offering new opportunities to not only learn new skills, but put them into action as well. During Middle School, there are more students participating in performances and the arts, so it’s a great way for your student to meet others and make new friends.
During their Upper School years, students are required to participate in the arts for three semesters, but most students far exceed that requirement, having built a deep appreciation for the arts by this time.
At this level, students have the freedom to initiate and lead their own productions, including one-act plays that they write and direct, art exhibitions that they create and curate, and readings of their creative writing to classmates or wider audiences. They gain the confidence to explore more technical approaches and reach further to find their own creative expression. Whether they’re firing pots, building theatre sets, filling sketchbooks, composing music, or working with green screens, they are developing a cultural and aesthetic fluency that enriches their vision of the world and enhances their understanding of themselves.
The artistic talents of our Upper School students are recognized outside the walls of Seven Hills. Throughout the year, students compete in major arts competitions, most notably the prestigious Cappies, a student-directed theater competition similar to the Tony Awards. Seven Hills has received and been nominated for several important Cappies awards, including student acting and directing.
In the winter, our Upper School chorus travels and performs around the community. They also travel to New York City in the spring, performing and experiencing the many sights the city has to offer.
Sometimes the talent comes to Seven Hills. Our instrumental music teacher often invites musical talent from the community to visit Seven Hills to teach and play with our Upper School instrumental students. The visiting musician gives a master class in his or her musical genre, and offers tips to help our student musicians better understand advanced music concepts.