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Lily Snider '23. Photo: Mackenzie McCormick '24

Riley Blute '24

James Knepler '23

Renz Iurino '23

Four Gregory School students will earn the state arts seal this year.

TGS is an Arizona Seal of Arts Proficiency School

Last school year, The Gregory School completed the application process to be able to offer our Upper School students the Arizona State Seal of Arts Proficiency. The proficiency seal was created by the state, in part to retain student participation in school fine arts throughout high school. 

“Aside from students gaining an understanding of music, choreography, drama, and visual arts through our wonderful course offerings, studies show that students who participate in fine arts programs in high school have higher school motivation, engagement in class, self esteem, life satisfaction, and more positive academic performance than their peers,” Gregory School band and orchestra teacher Dr. Christie Blute said. 

"From what I’ve seen, colleges want to know that you’re passionate and focused on specific things. The seal is a way to demonstrate those qualities in the fine arts."

— Dr. Christie Blute

The Arizona Fine Arts Seal website outlines the program objectives as follows:

  • To celebrate students who demonstrate high levels of proficiency in the Arizona Arts Education Standards through personal expression and creative experiences in arts education programs
  • To identify pathways of artistic literacy that cultivate skills for 21st century success
  • To prepare students for college and career readiness, including active participation in the creative industries sector
  • To promote increased access to well-rounded, high quality arts education across the state

In this way, the seal both builds robust arts programs in high schools and also rewards students who choose to pursue school arts along with their other academic courses and extracurricular activities, giving them an additional asset on their college applications.

“From what I’ve seen, colleges want to know that you’re passionate and focused on specific things,” Dr. Blute said. “The seal is a way to demonstrate those qualities in the fine arts.”

To earn the seal, which recogonizes students in both visual and performing arts, students must fulfill three components: 

  • Four full years of high school fine arts course work
  • 80 hours of fine arts activities outside of the classroom (for example, performing in a school or community theater production, participating in an all-state music ensemble, or taking summer art classes)
  • Completing a capstone project in the junior or senior year. 

The Gregory School currently has four students in the final stages of earning their proficiency seal and completing their capstone projects. Renz Iurino ‘23, a violinist, has been offering workshops to TGS middle school strings students. As co-captain of our robotics team, James Knepler ‘23, combined his passions for music and engineering by working to repair and refurbish the organ in Dr. Chris Fresolone’s piano and choir room. Lily Snider ‘23 wrote, illustrated, and found a publisher for her children’s book To Plant a Seed, which is now available for purchase. 

The sole junior to complete a capstone project this year, Riley Blute ‘24, made an arrangement of the first movement of a Max Bruch violin concerto specifically for our Gregory School student musicians and then performed it with the group at the March 8 band concert (video, above). After seeing Riley complete his project this year, Dr. Blute will now encourage TGS students to complete their fine arts capstone projects in their junior year because of time demands from our 60-hour senior internship requirement.

Beyond enabling students to earn the fine arts seal, capstone projects also help students focus on their passions with a new purpose, sometimes giving them the impetus to dive into a project that intrigues them anyway. “The reason that I did my capstone project was really just because it was something that I was interested in and passionate about, and the fact that it happened to work as a capstone was just the cherry on top,” Riley said.

Students who are interested in participating in the program in Upper School should contact Dr. Blute and be sure to sign up for a full year of fine arts classes each year.