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.
- Foundations of Drawing I
- Foundations of Painting I
- Human Figure & Portraiture
- Old School Drawing
- Painting: Pop Culture and Abstract Expressionism
- Scientific Illustration
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 3D Personal Narrative
- Build & Destroy
- Bowls & Baskets
- Color Theory in Mixed Media
- Expressive Sculpture
- Mixed Media
- Paper Art
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
- Photojournalism: HOPS (Humans of Presbyterian School)
- Robotics and Coding
- STEAM: Painting with Light
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Art Journaling
- Creative Genius
- Creative Genius Election
- Creative Writing
- Creative Writing: A Way with Words
- Fantasy Storytelling: Dungeons & Dragons
- Literary Magazine "VOX"
- Music and Poetry
- Music, Poetry & Street Art
- The Entrepreneurial Mindset
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.
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.
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.
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.
Words carry with them tremendous power: power to encourage, to communicate, to excite, and to create. When we listen, when we speak, and when we write, words are our most effective tools - the ways we convey our hearts and minds. This elective will engage deeply with words through various modes including oral storytelling, children’s book creation, journalism, songwriting, cartoon making, speech writing, and more. Students will have great freedom to utilize words in ways both innovative and personal, working on projects that ignite their passions and capture their imaginations.
This course introduces students to the world of entrepreneurship through the development of the entrepreneurial mindset. The course will focus on the fundamentals of starting and operating a business, developing a business plan, obtaining financing, marketing a product or service, and developing an effective accounting system for sustainability and growth. Taught through a project-based learning paradigm, the class culminates in students pitching their own business ideas to a panel of professionals from the Presbyterian School community. After successful completion of the program, interested students may then apply for a two-week internship with a local entrepreneur to put their course learning into action.
- Chapel Band
- Digital Music for Live Performance
- Guitar I
- Guitar II
- Handel's Messiah
- Main Men (Men's Choir)
- Main Street Singers (Women's Choir)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 & The Art of Storytelling
- Introduction to Film
- Musical Theater in Film
- Panther Student News
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Chapel Planning
- Creative Problem Solving
- Drama I: Scenes
- Drama II: One Act Play
- Drama Appreciation: Shakespeare's Theater
- Mock Trial
- Musical Theater: Introduction
- Musical Theater: Choreography
- Musical Theater: Dancing
- Musical Theater: Production
- Musical Theater: Production (Props)
- Musical Theater: Production (Set)
- Musical Theater: Solo Coaching
- Musical Theater: Staging
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.