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View the Middle School Curriculum (Grades 6-8)

Humanities | Mathematics | Science | World Languages | Arts | Health & Wellness | Extended Study Week

View the Upper School Curriculum (Grades 9-12)

Humanities | Mathematics | Science | World Languages | Arts | Athletics, Health & Wellness | Extended Study Week


US Arts

The Arts department believes all students are empowered when they have opportunities to develop creative talents. The commitment to student voice threads through the program, and is very popular at Barrie Prep. The Upper School offers students the ability to choose arts courses, as they exist outside of the rest of the academic schedule in an “Arts/Electives block.” Arts teachers and curricular leadership continue to build a program that balances exposure to various arts, with sustained, specialized skill development.

Elective classes are based upon student interest/enrollment and may vary from year to year with selections offered in Performing Arts (Band, Choral, and Theater), Applied Arts, Fine Arts, and Art History.


Band & Instrumental Courses

Band I

Audition or instructor permission required

This intermediate level course offers musicians with two-to-three years experience the opportunity to arrange a variety of songs for performance. A basic understanding of music theory is strongly suggested.

Band II

Audition required

This advanced level course offers musicians with three or more years of experience the opportunity to arrange and compose a variety of songs for performance. While offering some room for student input, the focus of the material is jazz-based. Therefore, a solid foundation of music theory is required for this course. Prospective students must demonstrate their knowledge of music theory and proficiency on their chosen instrument.

The Gold Standard: Advanced Band*

The Gold Standard is Barrie Prep’s advanced music ensemble. This elite group of musicians rehearse diverse and challenging material from the genres of Jazz, Pop, and Rock, and perform some of the most beloved songs from the past century for a variety of audiences, on and off campus. Students who audition for this group must have at least three years of training on their primary instrument. Auditions are held at the start of each term and can be arranged in coordination with the instructor.

*Only students who have been in Advanced Band first and second trimesters may participate third trimester unless approved by the Band Director.

Introduction to Music Theory

This course teaches students the basics of music theory­ including notation, rhythm, chords, harmony-and how these fundamentals apply to Western music. Students work individually and in groups to learn about these structures and systems, and how they relate to one another. After developing a firm grasp of concepts, students apply their knowledge to music analysis and composition.

Theater & Voice

Upper School Acting

Open to all Upper School students, this course helps develop metacognitive actors, building an intellectual framework for the professional pursuit of performance. Following the trajectory of Stanislavski inspired method acting, students in this course develop pantomime, monologue, and scene projects, focusing on the careful construction of character. Class periods begin with warm­ up improv exercises. The course concludes with an all­-class performance staged before a live Barrie community audience.

Advanced Acting

Prerequisite: Upper School Acting

Advanced Acting meets concurrently with Upper School Acting; Advanced Acting students participate in that class, but have the added benefit of literature and instruction on theories of directing. Students are tasked with cultivating the capabilities of their peers, perhaps even directing full performances.

Musical Theater

The Musical Theater course studies and dissects three to four musical theater pieces, concentrating on both the performance and analysis of various shows from multiple periods. Students provide critical responses of every aspect of the show, including the actors, the music, the script, the lyrics, production design, creative teams, and performance history. Students learn to write critically and to be able to speak on aspects of common musical theatre criticism. Students are expected to be able to perform scenes from class materials studied, therefore, it is expected that students are singers, dancers, and actors with a strong interest in performance.

Technical Theater

The course will focus on designing and mounting all tech aspects for the annual spring musical. This class requires mandatory attendance during the last weeks of the musical. Students will be expecting to participate in design meetings, tech week, the run of the production, and the strike process after the show.

Technical Theater Topics / Projects

- set design & build

- lighting design, hang, & board operation

- sound design and engineering

- properties / set properties (props)

- costume design, build, and maintenance

- projectors, projections and software

- stage management / personnel management

Vocal Music

In this trimester course, students learn the basic techniques and skills of vocal music, including diaphragmatic breathing, pronunciation, projection, intonation, and reading music. Students have opportunities to perform both in class, during assemblies, and at other community events. The course culminates with an Arts Night performance at the end of the trimester.


Advertising and Graphic Design

This class focuses on creating art that influences people's decisions. Students learn the fundamentals of composition and use their insights to create posters, flyers, package design, and original typography.

Creative Lettering

This class explores different ways artists transform the shapes of words and letters in order to give even more importance to their meaning, or make the words themselves have new meaning through art. First students learn about typography rules and vocabulary. Students look at calligraphy in alphabets from different countries, and practice some in English by writing a poem in calligraphy. Students learn about illuminated letters and create their own letter for a collaborative alphabet book. Students look at contemporary graffiti and create some individual designs in sketchbooks using pens and markers. Depending on student interest and dedication to work, larger scale projects may be explored, as well as digital font design.


This drawing, sculpture, and digital art class serves as an introduction to architectural, landscape, and interior design. Students will learn to draft their ideas, use architectural symbols, and create models of their plans.


A drawing and painting class, Illustration focuses on creating art for communication. Students have the opportunity to illustrate poetry, children's books, and book covers; they also study the scientific illustrations of botany, anatomy, and archeology. Prospective students should have an interest in observational, realistic drawing.


In this trimester elective students explore painting media and concepts, with the main goal to increase the amount of choices students have when deciding what and how to paint. A variety of techniques are demonstrated for watercolor, acrylic, and water based oil paint, and there is also explicit time for experimentation. Additionally, students learn about different painting substrates, including learning to stretch and prime their own canvases which allows more flexibility in scale and format. Conceptually, students are shown and discuss many different examples of painting subjects and compositions, which they use as inspiration for their own work. Several projects focus on observation, but there is also time to learn about and explore abstract and expressive painting.


This is an observational drawing, painting, and sculpture elective that focuses on how to draw the human face. Students learn anatomy, and basic proportion, as well as how to observe and show the subtle differences that make people individuals. We work both from life and photographs, with realism as our goal. By the end of this class, students should feel confident to create portraits of anyone on their own.


Collaboration and Community Arts

Students in this class explore ways to collaborate artistically, directly and indirectly. Integral to this class is the opportunity to work with art organizations outside of Barrie. Students learn how artists influence the community through art. After learning how to write a proposal, small groups of students create semi-permanent installations.

Digital Art and Photography

Photography techniques and ways to manipulate and improve photography through Adobe Photoshop are the focus of this course. The class starts with structured assignments and progresses to longer, more open-ended projects. By the conclusion of the trimester, students are able to take strong photographs and are proficient in Photoshop.

Fine Crafts

In this class, students are introduced to several fine craft techniques, including wheel-thrown pottery, soap stone carving, weaving, and bookmaking. As the class evolves, students choose a specific concentration and create a final crafts project based on a specific theme and individual research.

Portfolio Development

This class is for art students working on putting together an art portfolio for college, scholarship, or competition. Students must have previous art experience and have a passion for making independent artwork to be accepted into this class. Students examine different rules and guidelines that are expected of art portfolios, and practice developing individual ideas, techniques, and concepts both at home and in class. Each student may be working with different materials and on different topics. For example, one student might be working on a graphic design portfolio, while another is working with ceramics. There will be time for group discussion and critique of artwork in order to strengthen the work through multiple revisions. Finally, we will decide on a students' 10 strongest works and take high quality photos, the student will write an artist statement and display their work on campus.

Studio Art

Through a series of open-ended assignments, students learn techniques in a variety of media including acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, and ceramic sculpture. Once the fundamentals are learned, students choose a concentration and create a final project based on a specific theme and individual research. Creative expression is encouraged.

Independent Art Studies

Barrie students may seek an independent study in art for several reasons: They would like the time-and guidance-to prepare an art portfolio for college; they are interested in a specific art topic not offered by the School; or they want to concentrate further on something learned in a previous art class. Independent study classes are graded and attendance is mandatory. Students applying for an independent study should be self-motivated and have clear goals about what they wish to accomplish. Independent studies may be for one trimester or one year.

Open Studio

Students enrolled in this program will not be graded, but attendance will be taken. Students are expected to work on their art projects and homework independently, without disrupting regular classes or any planning time that may be taking place in the studios.


Through these electives, students study a specific culture's art and create their own artwork based on their insights. Demonstrations of relevant art techniques are given. Students learn to analyze artwork and are required to demonstrate this in discussion and written assignments. Assignments are graded based on a student's ability to show effort and improvement. These classes are offered as daytime electives and may be taken in addition to the afternoon project block.

Exploration of American Art

This course focuses on specific, influential 20th-century artists.

Exploration of Eastern Art

Students learn about ancient art and contemporary art from Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cultures.

Exploration of French Modern Art

This course explores innovations in French painting from 19th-century Impressionism to movements surrounding the World Wars. The focus is on artists who worked in Paris.

Exploration of Islamic Art

A collaborative, project-based approach is used to appreciate and adapt the unifying visual motifs of traditional Islamic art to the modern world.