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Arts in the Upper School

"To be an artist is not the privilege of the few; it is the necessity of us all." - Robert Shaw
The Upper School Fine and Performing Arts Program is the culmination of the School’s comprehensive arts curriculum from PreK through graduation. Whether students are learning about past cultures through art or discovering their own sense of self expression, the arts are viewed as a central component of learning at Bolles.

  • A qualified and passionate faculty allows students to explore and appreciate all that is possible through the arts.
  • Offering programs in chorus, dance, drama, instrumental music and visual arts both in the classroom and in extra-curricular activity, Bolles upper school students are given the opportunity to shine through individual projects, school productions, and outside performances.
  • Visiting artists, field trips locally and out of town, competitions and adjudications and invitations to perform at prestigious events and venues broaden the scope of the arts experience at Bolles.


The choral program at Bolles provides students at all levels with the opportunity to develop individual musicianship through the choral art. Through participation in the choral program, students experience the power of music and the profound historical and cultural connections it generates.
  • The focus of the program is on performance with instruction in music theory, history and vocal technique drawn from pieces learned for concerts.
  • Choral literature from a variety of historical styles, periods and cultures is studied.
  • Year-long courses offered include Women's Ensemble, Men's Ensemble, Advanced Women's Chorus and Concert Choir.
  • Students wishing more intensive study in music history, music theory or musical theatre may take semester courses in those areas.
  • Major concerts are presented on campus twice a year and students also take advantage of numerous opportunities to perform elsewhere in the community.
  • In addition, students in the choral music program participate in activities sponsored by the Florida Vocal Association.
  • Students from the program are regularly honored with outstanding performance evaluations and invitations to perform at such activities as All-State Chorus, Walt Disney World's Epcot Center Candlelight Processional and the University of Florida's Invitational Choral Festival.

The Bolles School Choir Trip to Chicago
Travel Dates: March 12 - March 15, 2020


  • The Upper School Dance Program at The Bolles School was launched in 1993.
  • Course curriculum includes ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, tap, hip-hop, musical theatre, African, injury prevention and treatment, kinesiology, dance history, composition and choreography.
  • There are three levels in the upper school, with placement in the higher levels being determined by a faculty evaluation process.
  • Both male and female students enroll in dance classes, and work to enhance their coordination, strength, flexibility and have a great time.


  • The Bolles theater curriculum focuses first on the exploration of foundational acting skills of presentational acting.
  • The more advanced acting courses are a survey of different acting styles in addition to modern scene work and several opportunities to perform.
  • The highest level of study emphasizes script analysis, directing, and production skills.
  • Students work at all levels from both play scripts and original scenes.
  • A drama showcase each semester highlights the best student work from all classes and the Production Class culminates in a public performance of their project each spring.
  • The after-school programs for Bolles theater students are the most extensive in the department, with as many students participating in after school productions as taking classes.
  • During a four-year period at Bolles, a student has the opportunity to attend and/or participate in a wide range of theatrical productions from Shakespeare to Musicals such as "Grease," to plays that span the generations and theatrical styles. Plays are consciously selected to cover many roles, styles, periods, and subjects.
  • Though many of the students participating in after school drama are not currently enrolled in classes, those who are find productions an important laboratory to test and expand their class work.

Instrumental Music

The upper school music program offers two avenues for a student's study of instrumental music; each challenges the skills of the individual student while exposing him/her to a wide range of outstanding music.

  • The Symphonic Band is an advanced performance based instrumental ensemble which meets daily during the academic day. This class presents a high level of challenge to a student's technical, theory and preparation skills. At this level, music theory and history are highly integrated with performance instruction, and the variety of range and styles of music explored is much greater than at previous levels.
  • In addition to this ensemble class, private lessons with non-faculty instructors are available to all students whether or not they are enrolled in band classes. This program allows students to contract with an instructor of their choice and take lessons before, during or after school on any of The Bolles School campuses.
  • The band performs a minimum of three concerts and a solo performance each year.
  • Music students, either as a full band or smaller ensembles, are frequently invited to perform at other campus events or in the Jacksonville community.
  • In addition to these performances, the Symphonic Band travels each spring to perform a concert somewhere in the Southeastern United States.
  • All students are encouraged to participate annually in the Independent School Music Festival in solo, ensemble, and concert music categories.

Visual Arts

A student's personal engagement of experience, translated through the materials of art making - pencil, charcoal, stone, wire, paint, clay or photography - remains the primary goal of the Bolles visual arts program. Students develop through feeling, sense and experience, expressed in a pictorial or sculptural language, ways of defining and shaping experience. Students are encouraged to think creatively, to move away from the mundane and ordinary, to conceive and solve problems with ingenuity.

  • Questions of art history, theory and aesthetics are incorporated with studio assignments at each level of instruction.
  • The course offerings in the visual arts are the most extensive in the department, offering an impressive range of media experiences and levels of instruction in semester and year-long formats. In addition to the entry level Foundations in Visual Arts class, several levels of courses are offered in drawing, painting, watercolor, ceramics, sculpture, photography and art history.
  • Advanced Placement courses are offered both in the Drawing AP and the General Portfolio AP.
  • The Gooding Gallery, adjacent to the visual arts classrooms, is a permanent art gallery dedicated to showcasing student work. Each month brings a new student show to the gallery, complete with reception. Visiting artists show in the gallery about once a year.
  • Student work is also shown regularly outside of the School in venues throughout the city, and Bolles’ artists at all levels frequently win accolades for their work in city, state and national competitions.