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About VSAA

Vancouver School of Arts and Academics is a school of choice where the arts are immersed in academic study.

At the school, they pursue a wide variety of learning opportunities ranging from subject exploration to advanced study. VSAA offers a complete and fully accredited middle and high school program including advanced levels of science, mathematics and foreign language. All students attend VSAA full-time. This means students take all academic and art classes on VSAA’s campus. The daily atmosphere of strenuous creative work, self-discipline, integrity and dedication prepares students for both college and future careers. In accordance with the vision of Vancouver Public Schools, VSAA’s goal is for graduates to “achieve literacy and appropriate core competencies, and become responsible and compassionate citizens.”

VSAA offers six art forms: dance, music, theatre, literary arts, visual arts and moving image arts. All students are expected to explore each art form but may choose to focus in one or more arts during their seven years at the school. Each student also has a teacher assigned who remains his or her advocate for seven years.

Professional artists and community leaders play an important role at the school, too. Students learn alongside working artists and also have field experiences in the community.

Located on Main Street in the city of Vancouver, Washington, and near the heart of the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area, the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics is well-placed as a community arts center. The school offers a wide array of performance, studio and exhibition space to students and artists alike.


Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, a focused learning community, believes students learn best when arts and academics are integrated. Through collaboration and inquiry, individuals are challenged to think critically, creatively and artistically.


VSAA’s philosophy of learning grows out of a commitment to specific guiding principles. Students and staff alike come to this school knowing that the people here teach and learn with artistic and academic integrity.

Within the framework of those guiding principles, staff members and students constantly ask the fundamental questions which explore evidence of learning. In this school, students learn the value of individual commitment and respect for uniqueness because they live and learn every day with people who are inventive, receptive to new ideas, responsible and committed to the arts.

Program of Studies

To learn more about VSAA, including our course offerings, activities, guiding principles, and more view our Program of Studies.

Program of Studies 24-25

VSAA 2023-24 Handbook

Frequently asked questions

What is required to apply to VSAA?2023-11-29T11:36:22-08:00

Apply online by the deadline to be included in the lottery.

Do students have to take all art forms?2023-11-29T11:38:11-08:00

As an interest-based school, students are required to take all six arts forms. After exploring each of them, they may choose to focus in one or more of these art forms.

What is advocacy?2017-11-27T15:42:06-08:00

At VSAA, every teacher serves as an advocate for 21-23 students, offering professional attention to each student. The advocate, in cooperation with the student and family, monitors academic progress and planning. Advocacy groups meet twice per week before or after lunch. Advocacy is considered part of the VSAA curriculum and attendance is required.

What music offerings are available at VSAA?2017-11-27T15:35:24-08:00

We offer vocal music, strings and instrumental music. We do not offer piano or guitar as part of our general curriculum.

Can outside activities count for dance or PE?2017-11-27T15:34:25-08:00

Dance is a required component of the VSAA curriculum and must be taken.

Do you have special education?2017-11-27T15:33:32-08:00

VSAA does have students in need of special education services. Through an inclusive model, students are given the necessary support to have a positive educational experience.

Are students in mixed classes or with students in their own grades?2017-11-27T15:32:46-08:00

Students are separated in their academic subjects into groups of sixth through eighth grade (blue team), ninth and 10th grade (red team) and 11th and 12th grade (yellow team).

Grade levels are integrated in our arts classes and through advocacy.

What is Core?2017-11-27T15:31:44-08:00

Teams of teachers who work together to help students learn mathematics, science, health, language arts and social studies with a focus on the arts. Coursework is directed to individual student needs and progress and related to a yearly theme.

Individual and group projects are a primary source of learning within Core.

Is there any tuition? What does it cost to attend?2017-11-27T15:29:18-08:00

There is no tuition if accepted to VSAA as we are a public school. There are still the general fees associated with all schools paid at the beginning of each school year.

Is VSAA a public school?2017-11-28T13:56:53-08:00

The Vancouver School of Arts and Academics is a public school. It is a full-day arts magnet of Vancouver Public Schools.

Notable events in VSAA’s history

Shumway Junior High School opened
Photo of the original school building

Shumway was the first junior high school in Vancouver. It opened with 400 students and 16 staff members.

Shumway closed

A ceremony honored Shumway as it ended 66 years as a junior high school. It was remodeled before reopening in fall 1996 as a magnet school for the arts. Vancouver Public Schools was awarded a $750,000 Building for the Arts grant to help renovate the Shumway building.


Remodeling began on the former Shumway building.

VSAA opened

Vancouver School of Arts and Academics opened in fall 1996 for students in sixth through 11th grades. The school was one of five selected nationwide to receive a $250,000 research grant from the College Board and the Getty Center for Education in the Arts.

Senior class added

The school expanded to include its first senior class.

New and Emerging School Award

The International Network of Performing and Visual Arts Schools presented Vancouver School of Arts and Academics with a New and Emerging School Award.

Grant to create artwork

VSAA, Fort Vancouver High School and Thomas Jefferson Middle School were chosen to receive $5,000 grants to create artwork for the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark’s expedition. Part of the Confluence Project, the student artwork complements seven works of art by Maya Lin.

Blue Ribbon School

Vancouver School of Arts and Academics was recognized as a No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School for 2005 by the U.S. Department of Education. Then-Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings presented the award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Sustainable Schools Grant

Vancouver School of Arts and Academics was selected to receive a $376,000 Washington Sustainable Schools Grant to make its building environmentally friendly. Work began in summer 2007 and continued during the 2007-08 school year. To minimize disruption to learning, two doublewide portable units were used as temporary classroom spaces.

Silver Award

Vancouver School of Arts and Academics received the Silver Award in U.S. News and World Report’s listing of Best High Schools for 2009.

Dance Teacher of the Year
photo of dance teacher fern tresvan

Fern Tresvan was named Washington state’s 2012 Dance Teacher of the Year by the Washington Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Gold Medal

U.S. News & World Report again placed VSAA among the best public high schools in the nation as part of its annual ranking. VSAA was declared 10th in the state and 357th in the nation and received a gold medal.

Confluence Project
The Confluence Project of mosaic panels are completed and installed on the side of VSAA facing Main Street. These enormous panels of Sacagawea and her infant son Pomp took a decade to complete and consist of tens of thousands of mosaic pieces created by VSAA students. The project involved collaboration with a Sacagawea historian to ensure every detail was correct.

The Confluence Project of mosaic panels are completed and installed on the side of VSAA facing Main Street. These enormous panels of Sacagawea and her infant son Pomp took a decade to complete and consist of tens of thousands of mosaic pieces created by VSAA students. The project involved collaboration with a Sacagawea historian to ensure every detail was correct.

VSAA again named one of nation’s best public high schools

VSAA again made U.S. News & World Report‘s annual list. VSAA was named 11th in the state and 620th in the nation.

Outstanding Music Educator
Ann Medellin, arts, music, VSAA

Ann Medellin, pictured on right, was named the 2016 Outstanding Music Educator by the Washington state chapter of the American String Teachers Association. Medellin was selected by colleagues from across the state.

Voters approved bond measure

The bond measure will pay to rebuild or upgrade every single school in the district. VSAA is slated to be expanded to accommodate more students.

Vocal music director honored

For her innovative, multidisciplinary approach to vocal education, Margaret Green (pictured on right with VSAA Principal Lori Rotherham) was honored with a DeLucia Award. She was one of only five recipients in 2017 and the only winner from Washington state or the West Coast.

Exemplary School

Vancouver School of Arts and Academics was named a 2017-22 Exemplary School by the Arts Schools Network. The honor was given to Arts Schools Network members that met the principles of exemplary practice in strategically evaluating their purpose, operations and educational programs.

Work begins on a second building at VSAA!
New VSAA addition and site plan

Project highlights include:

  • A two-story addition, allowing the school to accommodate 200 more students
  • New commons area to accommodate larger student body, new main office, and new Black Box theater space
  • The addition of four classrooms in the new building and the conversion of the old Black Box space into four classrooms and two office spaces
  • Dedicated drop-off lane
New VSAA building opens
Rendering of the VSAA addition that shows the new entry

The new VSAA building opens! VSAA now accommodates 200 more students (student count is nearly 800), and ten more teachers, and with it comes a variety of new course offerings such as Marketing, Theatre Tech, and Real Life 101.

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