Gwinnett starting admissions process for new performing arts school opening in 2021

Gwinnett County Public Schools is starting the admissions process for its new School of the Arts.
Gwinnett County Public Schools is starting the admissions process for its new School of the Arts.

Students who want to hone their artistic skills in high school will have a chance to learn more about Gwinnett’s new School of the Arts at four upcoming information sessions.

The School of the Arts at Central Gwinnett High School (SOTA), located at 564 W. Crogan St. in Lawrenceville, will open for rising ninth and 10th graders in August 2021.

Students from anywhere in the district are eligible to attend the “school within a school," which will have the largest number of fine arts and performing arts students of any Gwinnett County high school, the district said in a press release.

Students will still learn the core high school curriculum, but they will also have the opportunity to focus more closely on their chosen art form. Teaching will be done by a mix of full-time educators and adjunct instructors who work in the arts community. There will be a conservatory program that requires auditions for admission, and a fellows program featuring specialized arts electives.

Students admitted to the conservatory program will spend most of their school day in arts classes, internships and work experiences. Traditional academic coursework will be completed both online and in person. Conservatory students can concentrate in art and design, dance, music technology and audio production, theater and voice. Auditions, interviews and juried presentations and performances will all be considered for admission.

Students in the fellows program are not required to audition and will still spend most of their time in academic classes. They will have access to electives in creative writing, instrumental music and theater, and may use online academic courses to make time for more arts electives.

Students at SOTA will learn in a new 31,000-square-foot building featuring a black box theater, visual arts classrooms, expanded music facilities, dance studio space and space for private one-on-one lessons. Students will also be able to participate in internships and pre-professional and professional work experiences in their chosen field.

Information sessions will be held Sept. 24 at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 26. at 2:30 p.m., Oct. 17 at noon and Oct. 24 at noon. Each session is virtual and accessible via the SOTA website, gcpsk12.org/SOTA. Current eighth and ninth graders will be considered for admission for the 2021-2022 school year. Gwinnett County Public Schools students in 10th and 11th grades may also apply to transfer from their current high schools, and are subject to the same admission and audition requirements.

The school is also holding workshops to help students prepare to audition for the the conservatory program. They will be held virtually and in person on the Central Gwinnett High School campus on Saturday, Oct. 17 and Saturday, Oct. 24, both from 8 to 10 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. In-person auditions or visual art portfolio presentations are required for conservatory program admission and will be held Saturday, Nov. 7 and Saturday, Nov. 14. More information and registration can be found at gcpsk12.org/SOTA.

Gwinnett currently has three other specialized high schools: Paul Duke STEM High School in Norcross, McClure Health Science High School in Duluth and Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology in Lawrenceville. Students in grades kindergarten through fifth are eligible to enroll in the North Metro Academy for the Performing Arts, a Gwinnett charter school in Lawrenceville.

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