STA offers a multitude of opportunities for students to express themselves creatively as they develop the techniques that cater to their interests.
Classes and Clubs/Extracurricular activities offer experiences in the Fine Arts year-round.
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.
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
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.