Fine Arts

Dance @ STA

The Dance Program at St. Thomas Aquinas High School is run by STA class of 1999 alum Maria Virginio. Dance has been the focal point of Maria’s life. She joined the cheerleading team at St. Gregory’s and then pursued this passion through her high school days at St. Thomas Aquinas.

The summers of Maria’s high school career were spent in New York at various dance intensives and workshops. While there, she learned much of Broadway’s original choreography. Maria was then accepted to University of the Arts in Philadelphia, one of the top universities in America, with a major scholarship and earned her B.F.A. in Jazz Dance Performance. After graduating, Maria moved to NY where she got her first performance job after college. Maria was delighted that this job was dancing as an adagio dancer on cruise ships.

She and her partner danced on the Cunard Caronia, SAGA Ruby, SAGA Rose, and Norwegian Star. While on the SAGA ships, Maria was dance captain and company manager. At the age of 28, Maria decided that it was time to move back to South Florida. This is Maria’s sixth year at STA, and she could not be prouder of how much dance has grown at her alma mater.

Maria jumped at the opportunity to bring her passion for dance to St. Thomas, and she has developed a new love for the art because of the students she has had. Maria’s students inspire her every day!

St. Thomas Aquinas High School offers a variety of ways for students to dance. Students have the option to take the following dance classes during the school day as a Fine Arts and/or elective credit.

The different levels of dance courses are available over all four years of high school and must be taken in order from I-IV.
The Techniques classes are designed for beginner to advanced dancers to learn and better their technique while studying Dance History and as such working on technique in historical order. The Choreography and Performance classes are geared towards experienced dancers who would like to look at dance from the choreographer’s perspective and find their artistic point of view. These classes are designed for dancers that already have knowledge of advanced dance technique.

St. Thomas Aquinas High School and Miss Virginio also offer the STA Dance Company/National Honor Society for Dance Arts. This is an after-school opportunity for dancers to join a competitive dance company/honor society. Dancers must audition and be able to perform certain technical skills.

The STA Dance Company has competed at several national dance competitions since 2017. They have been awarded many overall top scores, invitations to world championships, special awards, and outstanding choreography awards. Members of the STA Dance Company may be inducted into the National Honor Society for Dance Arts. This is a prestigious and special opportunity for dancers at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

Film Studies

FILM STUDIES: is meant to closely examine cinema’s early beginnings, paying special attention to the silent film era and will end with an in-depth study of classic film genres. This year-long course will present a comprehensive and chronological study of film theories, trends, and techniques.


Our film programs are led by , Casey Golden, '03 alumni of St. Thomas Aquinas. He was heavily involved in the arts as a student and is proud to have returned to STA to help excite and educate a new generation in Fine Arts .
Mr. Golden holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida as well as a Master of Arts in Film & Television Producing and a Master of Business Administration from Chapman University.
Mr. Golden spent many years working in the entertainment industry and now brings his expertise to St. Thomas, where he teaches film, speech, and leadership.

FILM PRODUCTION: explores the expressive elements that comprise motion pictures, with an emphasis on creating emotional connections between character and audience. Each student writes, directs, and edits a series of exploratory exercises with the goal of creating compelling characters and telling emotionally engaging stories through basic cinematography, lighting, editing and sound. In this course one will learn techniques to create and illustrate involving and dimensional stories.

Graphic Arts

Computer Art and Animation Classes: The computer art based courses introduce students to the fields of digital art and 2D/3D animation. These studies, which touch on so many aspects of technology in various contemporary industries, are a great way for students to prepare for any number of careers. The ability to visually interpret concepts enhances the ability to communicate effectively.

 

 

Raider Review, STA’s Online Newspaper:  The online newspaper course encompasses not only exposure to research and writing skills, but also teaches students how to capture on-camera interviews, edit audio and video clips, and understand the importance of visual composition. Students also learn how to post stories online using industry standard publishing software. Over the course of four years, they can gain experience as newspaper reporters, editors, editors-in-chief, section managers, as well as social media reporters and editors.

Computer Science Principles Course: This AP course helps students understand how computation can be an essential advantage in their future endeavors. While this is not a programming course, students are introduced to the fundamental concepts of basic event-driven programming. The knowledge gained in this course can be applied within any field impacted by computing and technology.

 


Fine Arts teacher, Helena Daly-Asquini, has a degree in communication studies with a major in television production. For the first several years of her career she was a director at a community television station, but switched fields when her son was born. Ms. Daly-Asquini has more than 15 years experience as a computer artist and animator. In 2005 she discovered a passion for teaching and enjoys preparing students for exciting careers in fields related to computer science and visual arts.

Forensics

FORENSICS: also known as Competitive Speech & Debate allows students to gain experience in developing communication, research, and critical thinking skills. Student competitors will learn to deliver thoughtful arguments, speeches, and performances while utilizing common forms of forensics debate and persuasive speaking skills.




Our Forensics program is led by , Casey Golden, '03 alumni of St. Thomas Aquinas. He was heavily involved in the arts as a student and is proud to have returned to STA to help excite and educate a new generation in Fine Arts .
Mr. Golden holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida as well as a Master of Arts in Film & Television Producing and a Master of Business Administration from Chapman University.
Mr. Golden spent many years working in the entertainment industry and now brings his expertise to St. Thomas, where he teaches film, speech, and leadership.


PUBLIC SPEAKING: aimed to understand and apply (1) the basic principles of effective public speaking, (2) the principles of audience analysis and message preparation, and (3) critical listening skills as they apply to public speaking.


Instrumental Music

About Us

Our Mission:
Music is an essential part of life, integral in the development of the whole person, and a vital component for the advancement of civilization. A person’s quality of life is improved by physical, emotional, social and cognitive growth experiences through a meaningful, sequential study in music.

The St. Thomas High School Instrumental Music Program strives to provide an environment where students prepare for success in the future, whether or not they will become professional musicians. Music class exercises the whole mind, tapping and developing necessary life skills such as empathy, pattern recognition, design/creativity, problem solving, cooperation/competition, long term planning/goal reaching, and self-motivation/discipline. The skills and technical qualities involved in composing, recreating and interpreting works in the fine arts provide for lifelong appreciation.

All students at any level of expertise are accommodated, from the very beginner, to the gifted, future professional musician.


Guiding Principles:
  • Learning through music is a lifelong process.
  • Competition is necessary. Cooperation is also necessary. Both must be present in equal balance.
  • All humankind is inherently musical; therefore, all students, no matter what apparent natural aptitude, can create, experience, and enjoy music making.
  • All musicians learn differently and develop at different paces. There is no “norm.”
  • Music reinforces all other curricula by connecting concepts and processes to everyday life.
  • Music fosters an environment of acceptance and understanding of cultural diversity.
  • Excellence in music grows from a shared commitment by students, teachers, parents, administration and the community.
  • Music making on a daily basis increases one’s enjoyment of life therefore, such activities should be joyous in nature.

Beginning Band

Students in 9th through 12th grade Concert Band are given the opportunity through an “Instrument Fitting” provided by band, to try each band instrument including the flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, French horn, trombone, baritone, tuba, and percussion. Each student is assigned one instrument based on how well they “fit” with that instrument. Fit is determined by how much immediate success the student has when trying the instrument for the first time. A better fit leads to faster progress! Concert Band students perform in December for a Christmas Concert as well as at the annual Spring concert in April.

Advanced Band

Students in 9th through 12th grade who have already completed a minimum of one year as a band student are allowed to perform with the Advanced Band. Advanced Band students hone the necessary skills to prepare for the band’s performance, the Florida Bandmaster’s Association Concert Band Music Performance Assessment, Florida Bandmaster’s Association Solo and Ensemble Assessment, annual Christmas Concert and the annual Spring Concert.

Classical Guitar

Students in 9th through 12th grade can enroll in Classical Guitar. This class is performance based and provides a music education through hands-on and group learning. Students develop basic guitar skills and knowledge; simple and full strum chords, bass and lead sheet reading, barre and power chords. Foundational music literacy and theory, major scales, simple finger picking patterns and ensemble skills for a variety of music. As the students’ progress to levels 2, 3 and 4, the students are building on previously developed skills and knowledge.

Jazz Ensemble

St. Thomas has a Jazz ensemble class that meets daily throughout the year. Students with previous playing experience, on jazz instruments, in grades 9-12 may participate in the Jazz program. The students rehearse daily during the year are featured in concerts throughout the year. Jazz students hone the necessary skills to prepare for the band’s performance at the Florida Bandmaster’s Association Concert Band Music Performance Assessment, Florida Bandmaster’s Association Solo and Ensemble Assessment, Festival Disney, our annual Christmas Concert and Spring Concert.

Percussion Ensemble

Students in 9th through 12th grade with no experience in playing a percussion instrument are allowed to join the Percussion Ensemble. The ensemble also performs at Christmas time. This class is designed for students having little or no experience in an instrumental ensemble. Student musicians focus on building foundational music techniques, music literacy, listening skills, and aesthetic awareness. Students will develop their skills to perform at the Florida Bandmaster’s Association Solo and Ensemble assessment. The student also develops which enables them be able to audition for the Raider Regiment Drumline.

Raider Regiment

This Marching Band course is open to any student with previous training on a wind or percussion instrument and also welcomes students without prior training who desire to learn a wind or percussion instrument. The Raider Regiment performs for home football games, weekend field show competitions, parades and other community events throughout South Florida. Attendance at extra rehearsals and all performances is required. The Marching Band class fulfills the credit of Physical Education for Freshmen.

Color Guard

Students in 9th through 12th grade can audition for the Color Guard develop basic skills in performing and evaluating choreographed performances as an independent ensemble and in cooperation with a music ensemble. Emphasis is placed on dance, equipment manipulation, precision, and the relationship between music and dance. Public performances may serve as a culmination of specific instructional goals. Students may be required to attend and/or participate in rehearsals and performances outside the school day to support, extend, and assess learning in the classroom.

Majorettes

Students in 9th through 12th grade audition for the Majorettes develop basic skills in performing and evaluating choreographed performances as an independent ensemble and in cooperation with a music ensemble. Emphasis is placed on dance, equipment manipulation, precision, and the relationship between music and twirling. Public performances may serve as a culmination of specific instructional goals. Students may be required to attend and/or participate in rehearsals and performances outside the school day to support, extend, and assess learning in the classroom.

Pottery

Open to all students, Pottery I Honors is meant to instruct on the four hand-building methods (pinch, coil, slab, and hollowed-out) as well as altering the surface of clay with texture, add-ons, and cut-outs. Paint unique to the world of pottery is introduced and a number of surface decoration techniques are explored. This is a class where experimentation is encouraged among students.

Pottery teacher, Devan Jimenez is an Alumni of St. Thomas Aquinas, and has her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics and Sculpture from the University of Central Florida. She has been working in clay for over 10 years and is excited to share her experiences and knowledge with the students at STA.

INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVES

  • To understand the elements of art and principles of design in relation to ceramic objects
  • To experience the creation of three dimensional artworks in clay
  • To gain knowledge of the rudiments of art and an appreciation for a variety of different types of art
  • To explore the ability of self-expression and develop more fully specific art projects
  • To learn to work with clay using the four methods of hand-building: pinch, coil, slab and hollowed out
  • To understand the differences between the various types of pottery paints and glazes, and achieve some mastery of their application
  • To employ different color schemes within the parameters of specific designs


Studio Art

2D/3D Art Honors & AP Art and Design


Photo Courtesy of Sara Macero

In 2D/3D Art Honors students are given instruction in a wide range of art techniques including drawing from direct observation, shading and rendering techniques, perspective, color theory, painting, sculpture, printmaking, collage and creative thinking in 2D and 3D design. Art history and appreciation are woven into the curriculum in concert with studio art practices.

In AP Art and Design, students at an advanced level are guided in the creation of portfolios in their chosen concentration of 2D Design, 3D Design or Drawing. At the completion of the course, students submit their portfolios to College Board and may earn credit towards their college degree.

Students in both courses have numerous opportunities to exhibit their work and participate in contests and art exhibits throughout the school year.

Instructor Catherine Wichmann has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the world-renowned Cooper Union School of Art in New York City with a major in painting and minor in Art History, with experience teaching a wide variety of art mediums. Ms. Wichmann is a professional artist as well as an art educator with a studio in downtown Fort Lauderdale.


Photo Courtesy of Catherine Wichmann

Technical Theater

With a home in the St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s own Bienes Center for the Arts, the Technical Theater program involves students in performing arts from the point of view of performance enhancing technology.

The program is run by Mr. Xander Snell who joined the Bienes Center as the Technical Coordinator in 2013. Mr. Snell is a sound engineer and production professional with experience in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Students apply principals from scenic design, lighting design and control, sound engineering, projection and stage management in order to enhance the events of the Fine Arts Department. Whether a dance show, band or choral performance, theatrical production or a master class, students of the Technical Theater Honors class run the event from the technical booth.

Theater

St. Thomas Aquinas High School offers a variety of ways for students to hone their performance and design skills. Students have the option to take the following theater classes during the school day as a Fine Arts and/or elective credit.

The different levels of theater courses are available over all four years of high school and must be taken in order from I-IV.
The Theater Appreciation classes are designed for beginner to advanced practitioners to learn and better their performance and design skills while studying Theater History, Pantomime, Design Concepts, and Script Analysis. The Acting classes are geared towards experienced performers who would like to explore advanced topics in performance while developing their vocal and physical technique for the stage. These classes are designed for actors that already have knowledge of basic performance elements.

St. Thomas Aquinas High School also offers extracurricular performance opportunities through the  STA Players and the International Thespian Honor Society. This is an after-school opportunity for students to participate in two fully staged theatrical productions and additional competitive theater events.  Actors and designers must audition/apply and be able to perform certain specific styles and/or tasks in order to participate.  There are multiple ways to get involved both onstage and off!


The Theater Program at St. Thomas Aquinas High School is run by Elizabeth Garrard. Ms. Garrard has been an active participant in the performing arts community of South Florida for most of her life.  As a South Florida native, and granddaughter of WTVJ news pioneer, Ralph Renick, she was first introduced to the art of theater at a very early age.  She participated in school productions at her alma mater, Cooper City High School, and competed in the District 7 Thespian Competition during the 1990's.  
Her passion for the stage led her to pursue a degree in theater.  She studied acting and directing at FSU and FAU before graduating Summa Cum Laude with a BM in Musical Theater and Opera performance from Barry University.  She received her MS in Education from Nova Southeastern University, specializing in Interdisciplinary Arts and Drama Therapy.  She has previously worked with Main Street Playhouse, Fantasy Theater Factory, Fort Lauderdale Children's Theater, The Performance Project, The Lovewell Institute for Creative Arts, Broward County Schools, and The Human Race Theater Company in Dayton, OH.   She has won awards for acting, directing, playwriting, and costume design, and appeared onstage with many of South Florida's most prestigious theater and opera companies, including the Riuniti Opera Company, They Improv, Performance Project at the Broward Center, and the multi-Carbonell Award winning Promethean Theater. In 2008, she made her New York debut at Carnegie Hall. She appeared in the World Premiere of Let There Be Balloons with the Lovewell Theater Project in 2011,  and made appearances as Madame Thernardier in Les Miserables and Ursula in The Little Mermaid at PPTOPA.   
Ms. Garrard began her career as a classroom teacher in 2009.  During the past decade she has facilitated over 100 South Florida Cappies nominations for her students.  She was a finalist for the  Arts Educator of the Year in Broward County in 2014, 2016, and 2017 and Teacher of the Year at The Sagemont School for 2014-2015. During her time at The Sagemont School she directed her students in two shows which were selected as Florida State Thespian Mainstage productions; Dracula in 2011 and The Miracle Worker in 2016.  She is delighted to join the Fine Arts team at Saint Thomas Aquinas!

Vocal Music

Throughout the year, the St. Thomas Aquinas Chorale performs at multiple concerts at STA’s Bienes Center, including the Veteran’s Day Concert, Christmas Concert, and Spring Concert.

The Aquinas Chorale also performs at local events outside of school, including the Pueri Cantores Catholic Youth Choral Festival and Christmas on Las Olas.

STA Freshman Choir and Chorale participate at the District and State Concert Music Performance Assessments (MPAs) where we consistently receive Excellent and Superior ratings, which are sponsored by the Florida Vocal Association.

In April of 2018, the STA Chorale earned all-around Superior ratings and was selected among 17 schools as a Choir of Distinction in Florida 2018.


The Vocal Music program is led by Wanda Drozdovitch. Mrs. D studied at the Glier College of Music in Kiev, Ukraine, where she graduated with Honors in Piano Performance and Pedagogic. In college she received vocal and choral training as well. She also studied piano performance under Professor Z. Kryshtalsky and the organ under
Professor S. Daitch at the Lviv State Conservatory and holds a Master Degree of Arts in Music.

Wanda Drozdovitch performed numerous concerts i.e. Noon Concert at the Troy Music Hall, NY on
Vladimir Horowitz’s piano and played as a soloist with Youth Symphony for the United Nations under direction of J. Eger.
Currently, Mrs. D. is in her 7th year as a director of choral activities at St. Thomas Aquinas High School. Under her direction STA Chorale performed twice at Carnegie Hall and three at times Epcot Candlelight Processional.