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Orange County High School of the Arts (OCHSA), colloquially called "OH-sha", is a 7th–12th grade public charter school located in downtown Santa Ana, Orange County, California. The school caters to middle and high school students with talents in the performing, visual and literary arts. The educational program prepares students for higher education institutions or employment in the professional arts industry. Both the academic and arts program have prompted recognition in the US News' "Best High Schools" program.
The Orange County High School of the Arts (OCHSA) was founded in 1987 and reorganized as a public charter school on April 20, 2000. During that time the school was relocated from its primary facility from Los Alamitos High School to the Santa Ana Unified School District. OCHSA is a tuition free donation-dependent public charter school governed by a board of trustees representing parents, the community, educators and the Santa Ana Unified School District.
The school is also supported by The Orange County High School of the Arts Foundation which is a non-profit organization for the financial support of the schools tuition-free artistic programs as well as its ongoing expansion plans. The Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation governed by a volunteer board of directors of prominent business and cultural leaders. With the input and guidance of the development staff the Foundation Board of Directors establishes fund-raising goals, manages long-term strategic planning, implements the school's capital, public relations and marketing campaigns, and oversees funding criteria. Members pay annual dues, serve on fundraising committees, attend the school's activities and serve as ambassadors to the community.
The Orange County High School of the Arts provides an academic program that aims to produce high achieving and motivated scholars. OCHSA's students attend standard academic courses under a block schedule system with three academic classes per day alternating each day for a total of six classes. Honors classes are offered as well as many Advanced Placement classes. OCHSA also has a selection of electives including Acting, Piano, Ceramics, Make-Up, Graphic Design, Taekwondo and Photography.
OCHSA's 2008 Academic Performance Index (API) score of 871 ranked the school as one of the top five ranked high schools in Orange County and in the top 10 percent in California.
OCHSA was named a Blue Ribbon School in 2006 by the U.S. Department of Education. OCHSA was one of 250 Blue Ribbon schools recognized nationwide in 2006 among 35 schools in the State of California and five public schools in Orange County. OCHSA was also named a California Distinguished School.
In 2009, 99% of OCHSA alumni continued on to college, with 79% going on to a 4-year university, 18% going to a 2-year university with plans to transfer to a 4-year university and 2% studying abroad. Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to continue participating in their artistic studies.
The "Art Attack Live" is OCHSA's daily live television broadcast of the day's announcements. The show began broadcasting by a group of 4 students from the Film and Television conservatory in September 2003.
Crew members consist mostly of students from the school's Leadership (ASB) class and various students from other conservatories. The show is broadcast from one of OCHSA's two live television production studios in the technology building. Students at the school are given the opportunity to audition to become hosts of the show.
After 2:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday the school focuses on arts education which is divided into 11 conservatories: Production and Design, Ballet Folklórico, Classical and Contemporary Dance, Commercial Dance, Creative Writing, Film and Television, Integrated Arts, Instrumental Music (divided into Classical Instrumental, Piano, and Jazz), Music and Theater (divided into Musical Theater, Drama, and Voice), Opera, and Visual Arts.
James P. Blaylock, a fantasy author, is Director of the Creative Writing Department at OCHSA. The department's Writer in Residence is the award-winning fantasy author Tim Powers. The Instrumental Music Department holds many concerts throughout the year and performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City in spring of 2006. The school's Symphony Orchestra, directed by Chris Russell, performed in the Sydney Opera House in the summer of 2008. The Production and Design Conservatory at OCHSA designs the costumes, lighting, audio, makeup and sets for over 125 school performances each year.
OCHSA's largest event is the annual Season Finale which takes place in early June at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The Finale recognizes notable graduating seniors, information about each conservatory, theatrical presentations and instrumental performances often showcasing pieces from the top performances of that year. OCHSA's Gala fundraiser is the other large event and is held in coastal Orange County towards the end of March. The Gala is a themed fundraising event in which OCHSA students from various conservatories perform. The event takes place at a hotel ballroom converted into a fully-functioning theater by students of the Production and Design program.
OCHSA has at least 3 high school dances every year: Homecoming (despite a lack of sports teams), Winter Formal, and Prom (11th and 12th grades only). All dances are themed, held at off-campus locations, and funded by ticket sales.
OCHSA's extended hours present a challenge to some students. Most students have to practice their specific art after school and still find time to finish their homework. Many students find little personal free time during the week between schoolwork, practicing their arts studies, homework, and traveling long distances to reach home.
OCHSA's campus consists of a seven-story office tower which was formerly a bank and three surrounding buildings. The main tower's bank vault is still in use as a teacher work area and occasionally as an octagonal theater.
OCHSA has two on-campus venues. Symphony Hall is a theater which holds most of the school's medium to larger performances and was originally a historic Church of Christian Science before being converted to a theater. The hall contains a theater, a side rehearsal room, separate practice rooms for instrumental musicians, a basement and library for the creative writers, a front of house audio booth, and a balcony overlooking the auditorium for the Production and Design students. This balcony houses an ETC lighting booth, multiple Source Four followspots, and a Lycian M2 Followspot nicknamed "The Spartan Laser". There is a plan to expand the Symphony Hall into an adjacent parking lot. The other on-campus venue is the Black Box theater which holds most of OCHSA's smaller performances.
The single-story "technology building" houses the bulk of the Film and Television department, the computer graphics portion of the Visual Arts department and a few administrative offices. There are two fully-equipped studios one primarily for live television production and the other for film work. There is also a computer lab and a number of individual video editing rooms. The campus' daily student-run news television program Art Attack Live is broadcast from the television studio and adjacent control room.
Situated between the main campus and the technology building is a five-story ceramic tower covered in tiles called the "totem pole". It serves as a gathering place for students during break times as well as a loading and unloading zone.
The "Annex" is a combination of two white windowless buildings connected by a set of ramps referred to as the "cheese maze" or "Star Tours" (as coined by Vice Principal Mike Ciecek). The Annex is home to many dance and vocal rooms and contains the Production and Design workshop where OCHSA's production sets are constructed and painted. The Annex also houses a creative writing classroom called the "Harry Potter" room at the base of the stairs connecting the building's two halves. The room contains a collection of screenplays and books.
Alyssa Pritchett- Disney Movie