The Arts

beacon academy chicago

Creative Expression


The arts curriculum is intended not only to facilitate artistic expression but also to allow students the freedom for personal expression. All students participate in the arts, specifically visual arts, music and theatre. Students are given the choice as to which they will study. They will focus on the global history and cultural impact of the medium as well as participate in the art form itself, and students produce a research workbook of their progress.


Creative Expression Assemblies are interwoven into the daily schedule, allowing students to express themselves artistically through the medium of their choice. Student artwork is prominently displayed throughout the building during the school year. We will also have local artists conduct workshops in the upcoming school year to broaden both our students’ and the greater community’s awareness of and delight in the arts.

Fine & Performing Arts Courses

Visual and Digital Arts

Digital Photography | (Fall or Spring Semester)

This course will be an introduction to photography through the study of compositional strategies, camera functions, and its historical influence on the evolution of art and design. Aspects of both fine art photography and commercial photography will be discussed in various contexts. Students will explore various photographic genres, styles, and concepts through the media of digital photography using both point and shoot as well as DSLR cameras. Basic post-production processes using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom will also be included in this course.

Drawing and Painting | (Fall or Spring Semester)

This course will expands upon building technical skills, developing concepts, exploring media, and gaining an understanding of artistic language. Experimentation, research, production, discussion, and reflection will remain the process for student-centered projects. A deeper look into the historical contexts of art making will also be a focus. During this course, students will be challenged to begin honing their skills and narrowing their focus on an area of interest in order to prepare to continue their development as a visual artist in future courses.

Digital Filmmaking  | ( Fall 2016)

A course designed to cover key concepts and practices for making a digital video project. Topics include an introduction to digital video cameras, camera movement, lighting, shot composition, sound, visual storytelling, working as a film making crew, and editing with an Apple computer. In-class demonstrations and exercises will allow students to work collaboratively on group projects as a digital cinema team.   Grading will be based on assigned classroom work, in-class presentations,and a major video project completed during the semester. 1/2 credit.

Project Studio | ( Spring 2017)

Beacon Project Studio – A semester long art elective. Graded with 1/2 hour credit. Entrepreneurial, Self-directed, Interdisciplinary. You Can Choose to do ANYTHING. It can be something you learn, something you become, something you explore, something you discover, something you change, something you design, something you organize … anything. It doesn’t have to be something you make.  Each student must select and design the course of action.  Build a piece of furniture, make a mobile app for IOS or Android, learn a programming language such as Python, Ruby, or C++, study lead levels in Evanston water supply, make a short movie, make a short documentary, write a short story or a graphic novel, understand and take steps to improve a local social problem, start a business, create an artistic representation of a mathematical model, learn to make five “signature dishes,” produce a video commercial for a local business using “whiteboard” animation, create a science experiment and produce a paper with results, record audio or video of a family elder, grow microgreens, build concrete bowls, make a quilt, learn to sew or knit or crochet, learn to fish on Lake Michigan, learn to use woodworking tools, crosscut, write a stand-up comedy routine or a “Moth Radio” type story and deliver it at a club, memorize and recite a long poem, volunteer to improve a program at a hospital, learn to shoot a shotgun, and be able to identify 10 trees and 10 birds common to Northern Illinois.  Students will submit proposals to the academic dean prior to the semester for one or more “projects” they intend to pursue. We will assess a “percentage of semester” value to each project. Some projects might only have 25% semester value. Others might be 100%. Submittals must total 100% value.  The Beacon adult course “mentor” would work with each student and provide advice, guidance, and assessment.   Students would base the work at Beacon or other approved location.  Students may work on the project at any time, but must attend during the formally scheduled Beacon time twice each week.

IB Visual Arts

The visual arts course is student-centered and places student exploration at the heart of a holistic learning experience. Students have a free choice to identify, select and explore artists, artworks, cultural contexts, and media and forms for study which interest and excite them. They also have freedom to present their studies in a variety of creative ways, including presentations, demonstrations and exhibitions. Organization, self-management and independent study skills are important, as well as higher-order thinking skills, such as analysis and synthesis. Students should also learn to make decisions about what is relevant and useful for their own investigations and how to put their knowledge and understanding into practice, transforming ideas into action.

Students will explore the following three core areas:

   Theoretical Practice – Students will examine and compare works of arts from different cultures and periods of time, investigate different processes and techniques, and explore ways to communicate their ideas through art making and the written word.

   Art-making Practice – Students will develop a body of artwork through the process of investigation, thinking critically, and experimentation with different processes and techniques. Reflection and assessing will be an important part of this process.

   Curatorial Practice – Students will formulate personal intentions for creating and displaying their work. They will assess and reflect whether their work communicates meaning and purpose.

Studio Art

Beacon Academy Studio Art Class is student-centered and places student exploration at the heart of a holistic learning experience. First time Studio Art students will explore a variety of art media, tools, and techniques while being challenged by thought provoking projects. Students will develop a body of artwork through the process of observation, investigation, critical thinking, experimentation, and reflection. They will examine and compare works of art from different cultures and periods of time. These works will inspire and influence artistic decisions that students make. As students develop as an artist they will have the freedom to explore the materials and techniques of their choice, while developing personal intentions. Students will be encouraged to explore personal, cultural, political, and social justice topics, while forming themes and ideas for their artwork. Project ideas will be available for those students who would still prefer some guidelines.

Theatre and Drama

Introduction to Scene Study: American Playwrights | (Fall Semester)

Students prepare and rehearse scenes from American playwrights using Piven improvisation and games to analyze characters and relationships as well as deepen textual comprehension. Through rehearsal, students begin to explore the basics of dramatic structure and essential performance and production vocabulary. Students explore how we use the impulsiveness of improvisation during the rehearsal process while being restrained by and respectful of a script from the American theatrical canon.


Introduction to Improvisation and Story Theatre: Ensemble Adaptation | (Spring Semester)

Students deepen their understanding of the Piven Technique through theatre games & improvisation in an ensemble-based environment. This class teaches critical thinking and analytical skills while building vital skills such as the art of improvisation, ensemble-building, active listening, and responding to the energy of others in the space. Students also learn to apply Piven’s core improvisational technique to the art of literary adaptation, exploring subject matter that supports Humanities curricula by creating and performing stories through focusing on close readings of source material, text exploration, and cultural/historical context.


Intermediate Story Theatre and Adaptation (Fall Semester)

This performance-oriented sequence allows returning students to delve still deeper into the art of literary adaptation. Under the guidance of teaching artists, students work together as an ensemble to adapt and perform literary works.   Using the skills they have honed in previous course work, students explore and heighten the character relationships, themes, metaphors, and events of the source material through adaptation and performance.   Stories and/or novels selected for adaptation will thematically support students’ academic work.


Intermediate Scene Study | (Spring Semester)

Returning students have the opportunity to apply the techniques they have learned throughout their courses with Piven to advanced scenes selected by their instructor.   Students continue to build these skills while using improvisation and theatre games to unlock spontaneity and take their scene work to the next level.


Beacon Academy Singers | (Fall or Spring Semester)

Open to all students who love to sing or who want to discover their musical voice!  Students will work on creating a strong foundation of healthy singing habits—proper breathing, supportive posture, clear diction and vocal expression—in a creative and engaging setting.

Multiple styles of music will be explored and student input will be a driving component of this ensemble’s identity.  Regularly scheduled performance opportunities will be a central component of this class—especially those out in the community.


Beacon Academy Players | (Fall or Spring Semester)

Open to all instrumentalists with at least two years of private study.  This mixed-instrument ensemble will focus on both performance-based and improvisation/composition-based projects.  Musical styles from the Renaissance through contemporary jazz and New Music will be explored.

In addition to full-group ensemble projects, students will be placed in smaller ensembles (duos, trios, quartets…) to study more challenging and level-appropriate chamber repertoire. Students will help shape the content and direction of this class and associated performances!

A placement audition prior to the beginning of the fall semester is required.  Students with an interest in composition and electronic music are also welcome to audition/interview for this class.

Arts Partners

The nationally recognized theater workshop in Evanston partners with Beacon in delivering the theater and drama program.

Piven Theatre

The only curriculum-based private lesson music school in Chicago, committed to creating a new standard in music education by redefining the music learning experience.

New Music School

At Foster Dance Studios, our goal is to offer an exceptional dance education, to respect the whole individual, and to inspire all students to find the dancer within.

Foster Dance Studios