Las Vegas Academy

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Las Vegas Academy of the Arts
Originally built as Las Vegas High School
315 South 7th Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101

United States
School typeMagnet High School
MottoFrom Excellence to Eminence [2]
School districtClark County School District
PrincipalScott Walker
Enrollment1,708 (2016-17)[1]
School colour(s)Teal and Silver

The Las Vegas Academy of the Arts is a magnet high school located in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. Students are accepted through an audition process and claim a major pertaining to performing arts or visual arts.


Las Vegas High School[edit]

The Las Vegas Academy's campus is located on the site of the first high school in Las Vegas; the school uses two of the buildings which were constructed in 1930 and opened in the fall of 1931. Las Vegas High School was the first high school in Las Vegas but caused controversy at the time for its location being too far from where people lived (which has changed as the city grew around the school); the school originally had three buildings: the tri-level Main building on the corner of 7th St. and Bridger Ave., the Gymnasium, and a third building which housed manual arts (shop classes) and in later years government classes. It was torn down in 1969; the two remaining buildings are listed as the Las Vegas High School Academic Building and Gymnasium on the National Register of Historic Places, representing the best of the art-deco architecture of the 1930s. The school's outer appearance has been maintained but the interior has been changed since its original construction.

Las Vegas Academy[edit]

In 1992, plans for a magnet school for the arts were announced, and on August 23, 1993, Las Vegas High School was re-opened as the Las Vegas Academy for International Studies and Performing Arts (Visual Arts was added the following year) by founding principal Bob Gerye. Starting with only 735 students, the student body has since grown to an excess of 1700 students attending the school pursuing majors in the language, performing and visual arts. (The CCSD Board of Trustees officially changed the school name in November 2014.) Las Vegas Academy has been honored by the U.S. Department of Education as both a New American High School[3] and a Blue Ribbon School;[4] the Arts Schools Network (ASN) awarded LVA the Outstanding Arts School 2013-2014 and Exemplary Arts School status for 2014-2016.

Theatrical venues[edit]

The Las Vegas Academy Lowden Theatre for the Performing Arts after the 2007-2008 renovation
  • Academy Theatre Black Box
  • LVA Performing Arts Center
  • Las Vegas Academy Lowden Theater for the Performing Arts[5]


The Las Vegas Academy lists a selection of majors for which students audition and then focus on throughout their four years of high school alongside standard academic coursework. Students go through an audition process in order to be admitted to the Academy. Along with a successful audition, in order to receive admittance into the Academy, an applicant must have a grade point average to a 2.0 or higher.[6]


Students are introduced to a wide range of dance experiences and activities that will enhance basic movement technique and creativity. Instruction is given in modern dance, ballet, jazz, and ethnic dance, as well as choreography, creative movement, dance history, and improvisation.[7]


Students participate in comprehensive activities that include instruction in brass, guitar, percussion, piano, strings, vocal, woodwinds, basic musicianship, history, music technology, theory, and world music. Students have the opportunity to participate in bands, guitar ensembles, madrigals, Mariachi ensembles, mixed choirs, orchestras, jazz ensembles, piano ensembles, wind ensembles and small ensembles in both rehearsal and performance settings; the department offers concentrations in:

There are several band programs at the Academy: jazz band, chamber band, and symphonic band. Students have the opportunity to join several school trips throughout the year; the bands are divided up into three placement sections: Varsity I, Varsity II, and Varsity III. During the 2007-2008 school year, the Varsity II and Varsity III band majors attended a music festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico.[8] In March of the 2010-2011 school year, the Varsity III Band participated in Music For All National Festival for the third time and has remained the only group in the western United States to be invited to the event.
The choir program is a program consisting of 270 vocal students. There are five choirs for which students can audition: Mixed Ensemble (Cantare), Women's Chorus (Les Chanteuses), Advanced Mixed Ensemble (Konzert Chorale) Advanced Women's Ensemble (Bella Voz), and the Las Vegas Academy Singers.[9]
The guitar program was started by the current guitar instructor and of the head of the Las Vegas Academy Music Department, Bill Swick in the 2002-2003 school year. Initially the program consisted of 29 guitar majors and has since grown to 95;[10] as with the band program, the guitar program also contains Varsity I, Varsity II, Varsity III levels. In addition, the Las Vegas Academy Guitar Program have a Senior Quartet which has received accolades such as Downbeat Magazine's Best Performing Arts High School in the Classical Group;[11] the programs ensembles perform at a wide range of venues ranging from NAMM conferences[12] to 2013's Guitar Foundation of America Conference.[13] Over the four year curriculum, areas of concentration include: correct posture, note reading, aural skills, flat picking, rhythmic patterns, chord study, finger picking styles, musical forms, improvisation and performing experiences.[14]
Students from the Las Vegas Academy participate in the Clark County School District's mariachi program, which includes students from 14 schools.[15]
The orchestra program at the Las Vegas Academy consists four levels of orchestras. Students play a wide array of musical literature, including string orchestra, chamber music, full orchestra repertoire in collaboration with the Band and Choir department. In 2008, the Las Vegas Academy Philharmonic was lauded as the top full orchestra in the country by the American String Teacher's Association. In 2009 the top orchestra traveled to New York to perform at the world famous Lincoln Center; also in 2009, The top orchestra and select chamber groups participated in the 2009 session of the Midwest Clinic.[16]
The piano program at the Las Vegas Academy has three levels of piano classes for each individual student at the Academy: Piano I (Beginner), Piano II (Intermediate), and Piano III (Advanced). In 2012, a jazz program was added, making every other block a jazz piano class.
World Jazz Studies
The world jazz studies program works in syncopation with the band program as students undergo an audition process in order to be admitted to the Academy. In recent years, the jazz program has placed as one of the top 3 jazz bands in the west coast. Along with big band, the Academy's combo won the Downbeat Award in 2008. There are three levels of jazz bands: Jazz I, Jazz II, and Jazz III; the department has worked with Anita Brown, Chris Potter, Ndugu Chancler, Randy Brecker, and others.[17]

In 2014 the school received its 12th Grammy Signature School Gold Award.[18]


The theatre department contains three components: Acting, Musical Theatre and Technical Theatre. Academy Theatre has produced several productions throughout its sixteen-year history, including five productions staged at the International Thespian Festival.[19]

The acting program provides an overview of theatre and theatre history. Basic acting skills are developed through improvisation, movement, and exercises for the actors. Acting students learn a broad cross-section of theatre theory, and work toward placement in college theatre programs throughout the country. Recent productions at the Academy include West Side Story, Jekyll & Hyde, Antigone,[20] Sweeney Todd, Cats, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, The Laramie Project, The Elephant Man, Execution of Justice, The Wiz, and Hairspray. All of the main stage musicals at the Academy are performed with the Orchestra and Band departments providing live music.
Musical Theatre
The musical theatre major is a recent addition to the school. Students spend their freshman year learning about acting, musical theatre and technical theatre and then decide to continue with a focus in one of the three areas. Musical theatre students study acting technique, voice and dance in order to become triple threats.
Theatre Technologies
The technical theatre program provides students with training in lighting, sets, sound, and design for productions held in both large and small venues. Using various forms of technology and class work that centers on proper terminology, safety, and backstage procedures, technical theatre majors develop and build computer skills necessary for the entertainment business.

Visual arts[edit]

The visual arts program provides instruction in animation, digital illustration, film (video production and film studies), fine arts (visual design), graphic design, photography, and sculpture (ceramics and design crafts).[21]

Notable alumni in entertainment[edit]


  1. ^ "Las Vegas Academy of Int'l Studies Performing and Visual Ar". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  2. ^ "Las Vegas Academy Of the Arts". Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  3. ^ "New American High Schools". U.S. Department of Education. Archived from the original on 13 June 2001. Retrieved 16 August 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ "Archived: Blue Ribbon Schools Program, Schools Recognized 1999-2002" (PDF). U.S. Department of Education. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 June 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  5. ^ "Academy Theatre History". Retrieved 2010-11-20.
  6. ^ [1] Archived March 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Las Vegas Academy Course Catalog 2016-2017" (PDF). Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  8. ^ "index". Archived from the original on January 4, 2014. Retrieved 2013-10-25. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ "Las Vegas Academy Choir Department". 2012-09-09. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
  10. ^ Swick, Bill. "History of Las Vegas Academy Guitar Program 2002-2012" (PDF). Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Downbeat 35th Annual Student Music Awards" (PDF). Downbeat Magazine. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  12. ^ Moyer, Jon. "NAMM Show 2009 Las Vegas Academy Guitar". National Association of Music Merchants. Archived from the original on 2009-01-22. Retrieved 18 January 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  13. ^ "2013 GFA Convention Program". Guitar Foundation of America. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  14. ^ "LVA Guitar Curriculum". Bill Swick. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  15. ^ Peterson, Kristen (26 August 2010). "Against all odds, Clark County continues to fight to keep music education alive". Las Vegas Weekly. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
  16. ^ "Performers". The Midwest Clinic. Retrieved 2010-11-20.
  17. ^ "Home". 2009-08-20. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
  18. ^ Cassidy, Christina. "Grammy Foundation Announces 2012 GRAMMY signature schools". The GRAMMY Foundation. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  19. ^ "Las Vegas Academy Theatre Home Page". Retrieved 2013-10-25.
  20. ^ Del Valle, Anthony (2 February 2010). "Theater review: 'Antigone' at Las Vegas Academy". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  21. ^ "Course Catalog 2016-2017" (PDF). 2016. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  22. ^ Cling, Carol (12 January 2007). "Ne-Yo's talent spans from Vegas to the 'Yard': Grammy-nominated singer makes his big-screen acting debut today". Las Vegas Review Journal. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  23. ^ "Profiling 'Criminal Minds' Actor Matthew Gray Gubler". 2010-01-01. Retrieved 2010-11-20.
  24. ^ Rilling, Deanna (31 October 2009). ""True Blood's" Rutina Wesley comes home". Las Vegas Weekly. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  25. ^ Padgett, Sonya (16 April 2007). "Dancing her way to fame". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  26. ^ Rilling, Deanna (9 December 2009). "Challenging expectations through dance (and frozen peas)". Las Vegas Weekly. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  27. ^ "Baron Vaughnm". Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  28. ^ "Leeds College of Music - News". Archived from the original on 2016-04-27. Retrieved 7 October 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  29. ^ "Las Vegas Theatre Roundup". Retrieved 7 October 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°9′50″N 115°8′21″W / 36.16389°N 115.13917°W / 36.16389; -115.13917