Professional Performing Arts High School (PPAS)
Manhattan NY 10036
First rate instruction in drama, dance and voice
Some seniors have very light academic load
The Professional Performing Arts School was founded in 1990 as a way to give aspiring actors, dancers, and musicians the technical skills they need to become professional performers and the academic skills they need in whatever career they choose. Students receive training from the Actors Institute, the Alvin Ailey School, the School of American Ballet, and the Songs of Solomon Academy.
Recent graduates include singer Alicia Keys, Lee Thompson Young (star of the television series \"The Famous Jett Jackson\") and Jesse Eisenberg (a star of the film \"The Squid and the Whale\"). Two alumni, Jessica Goldyn and Paul McGill, were cast in the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line.
It\'s a small school where, it seems, no one gets lost. One student left PPAS for the super-selective LaGuardia, only to return the following year. She said she missed the personal attention she received at PPAS. On one of my visits, a girl stayed in during lunch to do her homework under the watchful eye of a teacher, who was concerned that she was falling behind.
Students are chosen according to their artistic talent not their academic record and there is a wide range of academic abilities in each class. Luckily, classes are small and teachers are skilled in ensuring all children get the help and challenge they need. The teachers enjoy fashioning lessons that take advantage of students\' strengths. One humanities teacher has kids recite poems by Geoffrey Chaucer, or learn about the musical Chicago. Another teacher turns a lesson in economics into a skit for drama students to act out. A law class takes advantage of kids\' acting ability by having them role-play courtroom dramas.
Serving 450 children in grades 6 to 12, PPAS has a tiny middle school, with just 75 children, 25 each in grades 6, 7, and 8. All middle school students study drama, singing, and dancing in addition to taking a full academic load.
High school students have academic classes from 8:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., followed by two hours of their major: drama, vocal, dance, or musical theater (which combines acting, dancing and singing). Acting and musical theater are offered in the building; dancers travel to the Alvin Ailey School on West 55th Street and vocalists to the Songs of Solomon Academy on West 136th.
PPAS shares a building with a successful elementary school, Midtown West. The 100-year-old building is clean and the rooms are airy, with a new library and a newly renovated auditorium and a black box theater. The science labs are also new and brightly lit. There are no bells and bathrooms are open. Students in grades 8-12 may leave the building for lunch.
Spanish and French are offered. There are a few electives: a popular law elective taught by a First Amendment lawyer, a class in forensics and one in psychology. There are no Advanced Placement classes, but a few advanced students take college courses at Hunter, John Jay and New York University.
About 5 percent of the students are already working in film, televi_sion, or theater productions, both on and off Broadway. The school makes accommodations for them with a flexible schedule to ensure they keep up with their school work. The school is more than 70 percent female.
Special education: The school has a few students receiving special education services who are integrated into regular classes.
College admissions: About 90 percent of graduates go on to 4-year colleges and 2 percent go to 2-year colleges. Some, particularly the dancers, go directly to professional work at the School of American Ballet, for example. Many of the graduates pursue performing arts at conservatory programs such as Julliard and Berklee College of Music. Top students are admitted to colleges such as Columbia, New York University, Oberlin, Carnegie-Mellon, Cornell, and Northwestern.
Admissions: There are regular tours for prospective parents; there is an evening \"showcase\" and information session in October. Call the parent coordinator for details. Auditions are scheduled in November and December. (This school is featured in NYC\'s Best Middle Schools and NYC\'s Best Public High Schools. Clara Hemphill, January 2007)
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Programs and Admissions
Students receive pre-conservatory training in vocal music, dance and acting. All first and second year students participate in an annual musical theater concert. All third and fourth year students perform in an end-of-year main-stage musical production.
Built around the core values: excellence, engagement and empathy. Students take two hours of conservatory-style class daily in acting, movement/devising, voice & speech and theater studies. Each grade also participates in supplementary performance projects including classics, new play commissions and student-created work. Goal is to develop exemplary artists who are equally engaged citizens.
Classical Vocal Music students attend conservatory classes in vocal technique, sight reading, musicianship, ear training and ensemble singing. Students study an extensive vocal repertory, music history, theory, performance technique and movement for singers. Students participate in ensemble and solo performances throughout the year.
In partnership with The Ailey School, students follow a course of study with a foundation in ballet and classes in Horton technique, modern (Graham-based), jazz and West African dance.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP English, AP US History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Handball, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Volleyball
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Flag Football, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball