Irmo High - A Choice School
A CHOICE School: Irmo High School International School for the Arts
In addition to the school wide arts magnet, Irmo High School also offers an academically rigorous International Baccalaureate magnet program for juniors and seniors. The CHOICE program allows families to select any school in District Five that has space available to accommodate additional students or to select a magnet school or program.
Irmo High School International School for the Arts focuses on integrating a variety of arts into the curriculum. Students are exposed to visual and performing arts from around the world. While academic excellence is at the core of everything that happens at Irmo High, students are encouraged to be well rounded and pursue different interests that will enhance their educational experience. Students have the same standards as their peers across the state, but have more opportunities to explore the arts in reaching those standards.
Principal David Riegel explained, “We want to inspire our students to excel academically through their love of the arts. And, we want our students to be well rounded. Our art programs give students an opportunity to share their talents and passions while learning. And our IB program is an excellent path for those students looking for an academically challenging experience.”
An expanded set of art electives are available for students from beginner through advanced levels. Visual art classes range from photography to ceramics and even stained glass. Music choices include band, orchestra, world drums, chorus, piano, and guitar classes. Irmo High School has a dance studio for specialized dance classes, world dance, and college level credit dance classes. Theatre classes and theatre tech classes are also offered. “The students build all of their own sets here. In Basic Tech, they learn more about backstage production. Then the Advanced Tech class is an opportunity for them to challenge themselves with all aspects of design. We have some really talented students,” said Theatre Manager Lauren Sherr.
The 610 seat state-of-the-art theatre opened last year with an orchestra pit and advanced sound and lighting systems. Students put on high quality performances and are involved in every aspect of the musicals and plays. Actors and vocalists perform, the orchestra plays live, dancers perform choreography, theatre tech classes run the show and design the sets, and photography students take headshots and promotional photos.
Twelfth grade student Victoria Leatherman explained, “Irmo lets the students do the big stuff. Last year for the spring play I got to assistant direct. We had a student costume designer for Much Ado About Nothing. We had a student light board operator. We had student sound designers, student sound board operators. Irmo doesn’t leave it to the faculty or the teachers, or they don’t bring in outside people, they let the students do it which is really fun.”
The arts are integrated into coursework and activities throughout the school day. The School-wide Performing Arts Collaborative (SPArC) brings in visiting and resident artists to present. JROTC cadets have had performances incorporate drill exercises and bagpipe players. “Visual and performing arts content is integrated in all content areas in order for students to demonstrate their understanding in meaningful and challenging ways,” summarized Catie Smylie, Department Chair for Visual and Performing Arts.
The International Baccalaureate magnet program offers juniors and seniors an academically rigorous course schedule. Students choose a series of six courses each year: native language, secondary language, math, science, history of the Americas, and art. There is an extended essay and creativity, action, and service requirements. IB courses allow students to gain college credit and the IB diploma can be used in other parts of the world. Eleventh grader Lila Holland remarked, “IB makes you a more balanced person because even if you’re like me and you lean towards math and science, I still have the opportunity to take an art class and think about a creative project outside of school.” Principal Riegel added, “No matter your college or career aspirations, Irmo High School has a path for success.”
The CHOICE program provides many options for students to find their best fit, and Irmo High School International School for the Arts gives students a well-rounded education focused on both academics and exploring the arts.