Electives

Seventh and eighth grade students have the opportunity to take a fine arts elective every day. There is a wide assortment of classes that students can choose from. Below are electives that have been offered in the past.

Drawing & Painting

Foundations of Drawing I

Develop your visual perception, learn new drawing techniques, and improve your ability to transfer what you see to paper!  Learn about the elements and principals of design which serve as a foundation for your artwork. In this course we will be using a variety of media such as pencils, charcoal and chalk pastels. Looking to the artistic voices of the past, we will explore some of the master artists as well as important movements in art history.


 

Foundations of Painting I

This course explores the formal elements of acrylic and tempera painting including the nature and versatility of the medium. Projects are designed to familiarize the students with the capacity of paint and to develop some technical proficiency. Color theory is introduced. Students paint principally from, but not limited to, still-life settings. An important part of the course is continuing to look to master artists for inspiration and understanding. This course includes a review of the foundations of drawing.

Human Figure & Portraiture

Students will develop their drawing skills through exploring the human figure, its anatomy and proportions, in poses and gestures. Drawing the human figure will be tackled in a variety of ways, building in technical skill as the class progresses. The class will ultimately observe facial features and proportions of themselves and others in the class to draw portraits.

Old School Drawing

In this class students have several opportunities to walk across the street to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston galleries to observe, sketch, and critique art together. The work of the Masters will serve as the inspiration for class-time art projects and student's original work. The initial sketches will develop into pieces that express the student's personal vision.

Scientific Illustration

In this art elective, prepare yourself to illustrate carefully researched subject matter in the realm of many life sciences, including botany, anatomy, entomology, and biology. As illustrators of science, we aim to clearly communicate ideas in order to educate our fellow peers through visual media.

Multi-dimensional Art

3D Personal Narrative

What can you tell us about yourself? What do you want to tell us about yourself? Self-reflection is a staple in the world of visual art, so let's self-reflect and make it 3-D. Various artists and their work will be viewed and discussed and trips to the nearby museums will intensify our connections to the art world and to ourselves. This class is student-driven and primarily involves clay, wire and paper constructions.

Build & Destroy

Explore the built environment in a class that is part architecture, part construction, part deconstruction, and part photography.  The class includes walking tours of the ever-changing neighborhood that surrounds our school. Students will also use Lego and other materials to create  constructions and photography to document what they build and see. And because this is Houston, where no building lasts forever, students may destroy their own constructions.  This class aims to capture Houston as it constantly reinvents itself.

Bowls & Baskets

Through the centuries people all over the world have made bowls and baskets.  Whether ceremonial, functional, or for fun, baskets and bowls constantly lead our thoughts to acts of giving and receiving. Referencing pieces from our culture and others, pieces of historical importance or not, pieces ancient as well as contemporary, students will create their own expressive pieces. We will work primarily with clay and yarns, but will not be limited to these materials. Besides building the pieces and focusing on their forms, we will also explore creatively with surface qualities, textures and images on those surfaces.

Color Theory in Mixed Media

In this course, students focus on color theory through various mixed media projects. By studying color relationships and the use of color in historical and contemporary artists' work, students learn how to manipulate color in their personal work to create focus, harmony and mood.

Expressive Sculpture

We have all heard that we express our feelings through art, but portraying specific feelings visually with effectiveness can prove to be a challenge. How do we break down this challenge to express ourselves clearly? Focusing on 3-D expression, we explore the world of building using clay, wire, paper and wood. In this process of exploration hopefully we will also explore and learn about ourselves. Museum trips are planned with past and contemporary artists and cultures studied.

Knitting

In this class students use their hands in a different way - to produce a knitted object. Past projects have included a scarf and a small animal like a rabbit. Students learn the basics of knitting and watch out, once you figure it out, it can become addictive!

Mixed Media

Students in this class have the opportunity to use the various media - painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and photography. The class may visit the works of different artists at the Museum of Fine Art Houston as they study different media. Student interest and input helps determine the media studied.

Paper Art

This is no ordinary art class! Usually we create art by applying different mediums to paper. But in this class, paper IS the medium! Together, we learn about every aspect of paper, including history, different types, paper making processes, and how to make our own. We apply advanced techniques as we plan and construct a variety of paper art creations, from 2-dimensional fine art to 3-dimensional paper sculptures.

Sewing

Students learn the basics of sewing and corresponding skills on a sewing machine. Students have the opportunity to work on their own sewing machines in class. By the end of the quarter, students are able to produce a wearable piece of clothing. The skills acquired should help with costume production for the annual 8th grade musical... not to mention in life! 

Digital Art

Animation

Students in this course will create material to tell stories in a variety of projects using stop motion animation.

Photography

Enjoy taking pictures? Want to do more with the pictures you take? In this class, we'll uncover some tips for great photography. We will also explore different things to do with the pictures we take...from creating photo stories, to picture videos, to exploring different photo effects... the photographic opportunities are endless!

Photojournalism: HOPS (Humans of Presbyterian School)

This class takes its inspiration from Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York (HONY), which tells a story of people's lives in pictures and words on social media. Students in this class work on the art of interviewing (listening, observing, asking the right questions) to reveal the untold stories in the Presbyterian School community. 

Robotics and Coding

This elective is geared for students interested in extending their robotics and coding expertise. This course introduces new programming languages to seventh grade students while working to solve a series of problems through construction and logical processes. Students learn using a variety of electronic components to build and program working robots along with other automated devices. Projects include practical and/or entertaining applications.

STEAM: Painting with Light

The camera obscura, a camera made of a dark box or room, is a very old idea, first built around 1000 AD in what is now Iraq. In this class, you’ll experience the magic of building your own camera obscura in the form of a pinhole camera, and then use it to take photographs. We’ll develop the photos and send them to your iPad for further exploration. Come prepared to apply your own creative ideas to this project-based class.

Yearbook

Learn about design and publishing as you create the annual school yearbook for all students PreKindergarten 3-8th grade. You will brainstorm themes, create layouts, select photos, and write copy. It is a big (and fun) task that demands commitment, good judgment, and attention to detail.

Museum Art

Art in History

If the Ottoman Empire intrigues you, this is the elective for you!  Explore treasures of the MFAH, visit with artists at the Center for Contemporary Craft, and enjoy occasional trips to the food truck.  These adventures and more await students who select Art in History.

Careers in Art

This class will explore various roles and professions in art museums and not-for profit institutions—from directors and curators to educators and artists-in-residence. Students will have the opportunity to meet with staff at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Lawndale Art Center, The Jung Center and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Students will discover what motivated staff to choose their specific career and learn about the stimulating and fascinating roles that they play to make museums operate.

Course through the Museum District

This class is museum-oriented, visiting nearby art museums and enabling students to examine and discuss original art as well as interact with living artists and museum professionals. In addition to regular visits to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, students visit smaller area museums and have the opportunity to meet artists-in-residence and observe them at work in their studios.

Museum Ambassadors

The Museum Ambassadors elective is a collaboration with the Kinder Foundation Education Center at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.  Students will have the opportunity to learn from museum professionals from the Kinder Foundation Education Center as well as MFAH curators and exhibition designers. Students will spend the majority of their class time in the Asian Art Galleries at the MFAH.  The final project will be to choose favorite elements and objects in the Asian Galleries and reimagine them in an exhibit in the middle school hallways curated by the class.

Expressive Art

Art Journaling

In the Art Journaling elective, students combine art and words in order to express themselves... something that does not always come easily to teenagers. This class allows students to try and see the world from other perspectives, to plan, to reflect and to dream - all through writing and drawing. One does not have to be an “artist” to participate and enjoy this class.

Creative Genius

What does genius look like?  What does genius sound like? The resources of our school and city are at the students' disposal as they investigate genius.  Students in this class will meet with experts, conduct interviews, listen to great music, look at masterpieces, and conduct research.  The goal is for these researchers is to select a musical genius and a visual arts genius, then create promotional materials to educate and persuade others to determine the greater of the two.

Creative Genius Election

On November 8, 2016 Presbyterian School will decide who is the greater creative genius:  Elvis Presley or Dr. Seuss. In this class students will have a chance to work as a campaign staffer for the Elvis or Seuss campaign team!  Students will spend the semester creating campaign materials as well as organizing events such as block walks, debate, convention speeches and rallies to promote their candidate.  After the election, the class will work with the other campaign team to organize the inauguration celebration.

Creative Writing

Build your writing skills and stimulate your imagination through creative writing and graphic drawing.  We will learn how to use description, setting, dialogue and background in coordination with the studies in History classes and other fun subjects.  Graphic novels are so much fun to read, so how about we write some graphic stories? Be a part of this elective if you like to write, draw, read, create puppet shows, or all of the above.

Literary Magazine "VOX"

Students will work as a team to choose a theme for the School's Literary VOX magazine. They will design the cover, title pages, and layout for the whole publication. Editors will be collecting art and writing pieces from the middle school student body, and assembling the literary magazine.
 

Music and Poetry

Music and Poetry looks at the marriage of texts and music, learning how to analyze both. Students will be asked to bring in favorite music for us to analyze both the text and music. Group projects will allow students to create short films that combine image, text and music to support them.

Music, Poetry & Street Art

Team taught by three teachers, this class explores together the statements made in music, poetry, and street art.  Bring in your favorite song or walk the neighborhood streets and consider critically what these statements say about culture or values of a certain moment in time.

Music

Chapel Band

Students form a band for weekly chapel services that can include piano, guitar, bass and other solo instruments. Learning to accompany group singing is a great skill to add to a musical education. 

Digital Music for Live Performance

In this course, students will learn to create music digitally using the iPad app, Garage Band. Students will combine drum tracks, keyboard synth pads, and other pre-recorded instruments to create live tracks. The digital music created will be of the style used to supplement live music for performances.

Drumming

This is a class exploring African drumming using drumming techniques on djembe drums. The context is important to African drumming and students will learn about different community celebrations and rites of passage and the drumming and dances associated with them. This class explores other cultures and their musical traditions.

Guitar I

This course introduces a small group of students to beginning instruction in acoustic guitar. Classical guitars with nylon strings are the most finger-friendly for beginning students. Students are welcome to bring their own guitars to school for the quarter. An instrument will be provided for those who do not already have one.

Guitar II

This course will continue small group instruction for students who took Guitar I. Classical guitars with nylon strings are the most finger-friendly for beginning students. Students are welcome to bring their own guitars to school for the quarter. An instrument will be provided for those who do not already have one.

Handel's Messiah

During an opulent period of history, a savvy businessman, avid traveler and incredible melodist took London by storm.  George Frideric Handel was born in Germany, found fame in Italy and managed commercial success in London. During six weeks in the summer of 1741, he wrote his most widely-recognized work, Messiah, from which we get the “Hallelujah Chorus.” This course will explore the man and his music, the tensions of the times and attend (and critique) a live performance of the work.  

Main Men (Men's Choir)

This exciting ensemble of singers focuses on enhancing self-confidence, music literacy, vocal technique, sight-reading skills, and performance tools.  The fun comes in singing in two or three part harmony with other men’s voices in performance.The choir sings in performances on and off campus, at school events as well as professional sporting events and concerts.

Main Street Singers (Women's Choir)

This exciting ensemble of singers focuses on enhancing self-confidence, music literacy, vocal technique, sight-reading skills, and performance tools. The fun comes in singing in two or three part harmony with other women’s voices in performance.  The choir sings in performance on and off campus, at school events as well as professional sporting events and concerts.

Percussion

Students will learn fundamentals of music through learning to play percussion instruments. Instruction will include hand drumming as well as drumstick technique and mallet technique on glockenspiels and xylophones.  Students will be exposed to a variety of sounds listening to world percussion instruments.

Film

Documentaries

Documentary films are more prevalent than ever—showing up in theaters, TV, the web—covering every subject imaginable, be it tragic, comic, newsworthy, or outrageous. It’s a versatile form; they can run the length of a mini-series or be as brief as a short film, and they can be made for millions or a few hundred bucks.  A great documentary film takes more than equipment and sweat equity. It must be a carefully crafted piece of nonfiction storytelling. In this class, we will discover the power of documentaries by watching a variety of films, study the subjects that are chosen, discuss bias, and study the process of research and filmmaking. We will instill a love of documentary films and a respect for the powerful messages they convey.

Hitchcock

This class is for students who enjoy movies.  In addition to enjoying the experience of great movies, students will study the various aspects of cinematography involved in creating and producing such works of art. The focus of this quarter’s film class is the examination of Alfred Hitchcock movies.  Hitchcock, nicknamed “the Master of Suspense,” enjoyed a long and productive career making movies with a distinctive directorial style. He pioneered techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres, including camera and editing techniques used to maximize anxiety, fear or empathy. Students in this class will develop their skills of analysis by viewing and then discussing influential Hitchcock films and their innovations.

Introduction to Film

This class is for students who enjoy movies.  Students in this class will develop their skills of analysis by viewing and then discussing a variety of influential films and their messages.  In addition to enjoying the experience of great movies, students will study the various aspects of cinematography involved in creating and producing such works of art.  The goal of this class is for students to hone their skills of discernment so that they might become exacting critics of any films that they encounter going forward.

Musical Theater in Film

Students in this class learn about the genre of musical theater by watching the history of musical theater in movies from its beginnings to today's most recent hits. Exposure to the general types of songs and characters in musical theater will help students prepare for the 8th grade musical, one feature of which is choosing a Broadway song for your audition. Visiting behind the scenes in a Houston theater is also in the works. 

Panther Student News

In Panther Student News, 8th grade students will find stories of interest to the PS community, investigate those stories, gather information and interviews, and produce news pieces about them to share with the community. They will have the opportunity to learn and practice journalism skills as well as video production skills. Students will work together in teams to help each other produce pieces, but each student will be producing pieces of his/her own.

Dance

Capoeira

Students will enjoy this movement class teaching elements of the Afro-Brazilian martial art, Capoeira. This martial art is a combination of dance, acrobatics and music. It was developed by 16th century slaves preparing to defend themselves by disguising their quick and powerful manoeuvers in dance and music.

Dance I

This class introduces students to the basics of dance including timing and rhythm, leading and following, music interpretation, and the basics of footwork. The dances range from Texas country and classic ballroom to Latin dancing allowing students to enjoy a variety of different styles.

Dance II

Students delve further into components of dance including timing and rhythm, leading and following, music interpretation, and the basics of footwork. Students enjoy a variety of different styles, practice dancing with a partner, and learn the skill of rehearsing and memorizing choreography.

On Stage

Chapel Planning

A student planning team works together to prepare and present content at weekly chapels. This elective is for students interested in one or more of the following: developing multimedia programming for chapel presentations, speaking and performing in front of a large group, presenting spiritual teachings in creative ways, developing innovative ways to deliver our school mission to the student body and to involve the student body in chapel services. 

Creative Problem Solving

This course is for students who enjoy the challenge of solving problems in creative, artistic or theatrical ways.  In the same spirit as Odyssey of the Mind competition, students will be challenged to enhance their verbal skills in verbal problem solving and their ability to manipulate materials in hands-on problem solving.  Every class will include opportunities for acting and artistic improvisation and elements of script writing and theatrical production as well.  

Drama I: Scenes

This drama class helps students build skills for performance through trust and concentration games, solving problems with imagination and partner work. The class culminates in a short performance for Lower School students.

Drama II: One Act Play

Students learn the basics of creating different kinds of characters in acting. Using imagination, body movement, character development, and an actor’s voice, students explore how actors make characters authentic and believable to an audience. The class covers a variety of different aspects of drama including set and prop design and costumes. The class culminates in the performance of a one act play performance for peers and family.

Drama Appreciation: Shakespeare's Theater

An actor's life in Shakespeare's London was one of excitement and danger. On any given day an actor might find himself performing for kings and queens or languishing in debtor's prison. We will learn about the culture and environment of the Elizabethan stage, including the theaters, costumes, and the variety of skills required of an actor. We will read one Shakespeare play and learn to recite a soliloquy (hopefully with period costume and weapons--Hamlet skulls optional).

Mock Trial

Mock Trial is for students with an interest in public speaking and learning about the law. Mock trial is an opportunity exclusive to 8th grade students. The class works together with the Houston Bar Association to prepare a trial. Students are assigned roles as lawyers, witnesses, judge and bailiff and have the opportunity to enact their trial in a downtown courthouse.

Musical Theater: Introduction

Students will study elements of theater, such as stage vocabulary and blocking, as well as learn music from the American Musical Theater genre.  Because 7th grade has studied the legends surrounding King Arthur in social studies, music from the Broadway show Camelot will be included.  Students will present songs for families and younger students at the Fine Art Showcase.

Musical Theater: Choreography

Students learn and memorize choreography as well as practice the skill of rehearsing for the annual 8th grade musical.

Musical Theater: Dancing

Students learn and memorize choreography as well as practice the skill of rehearsing for the annual 8th grade musical.

Musical Theater: Production

In preparation for the 8th grade musical, students interested in holding leadership positions behind the scenes will make necessary plans for the production schedule. Planning is done in the areas of costumes, make-up, props, set building and publicity.

Musical Theater: Production (Props)

Art students build props necessary for the annual 8th grade musical.

Musical Theater: Production (Set)

Art students work on creating sets and scenery for the annual 8th grade musical.

Musical Theater: Solo Coaching

Those with solo songs or material in the musical will receive individual vocal coaching on their solos.

Musical Theater: Staging

In preparation for the 8th grade musical, students learn to create realistic characters as well as practice the skills of rehearsing and memorizing staging for the annual 8th grade musical.