Arts & Design: Maker, Media, Performing, Visual

The arts are celebrated at Summit School.

We believe that the arts are an essential language that allow children to reach full capacity and thus, experience in the arts is central to the student experience. Our arts program which students experience in ‘studio,' is led by our artists in residence who nurture engaged learners to:

  • explore the role of artist, designer, musician, thespian, photographer, sculptor, potter, programmer, maker, broadcaster, inventor;
  • take the arts seriously and support the spirit of discovery;
  • inquire deeply and take creative risks that value process as well as product;
  • develop students’ sensitivity and perception to the world around them;
  • engage in the local arts community;
  • help communicate the ideas and emotions of the human spirit; and
  • critique and respond to artists.

Summit’s arts program engages students in active and complex learning while fostering broad dispositions and habits of mind.


Maker Arts

Summit's Maker Arts program includes design, fabrication, robotics, and computer programming. Beginning in Junior Kindergarten, students explore Maker Arts through tinkering projects and curriculum tie-ins. In 1st through 4th grade, students explore in our Lower School Design Studio. In this space, children design and build with both computers and physical structures to learn about elements of design. A dedicated tinkering space is also housed in our Grades 1-3 Building. Tinkering is defined loosely as repairing and constructing items in order to improve them. It occurs in a prepared environment with multiple materials where children are inspired to dig deeper, try again, learn from failure, help each other, and create. Thinking becomes visible. Ideas in our minds are revealed. The Maker Movement and tinkering celebrate the traits of design, ingenuity, and creativity Summit has always valued. They are also excellent vehicles for teaching mathematical thinking and scientific inquiry.

Our Upper School Design Studio is used by students in 5th grade and higher. The lab is part of a studio rotation and hosts many curriculum-based projects based in math, science, and engineering.

Media Arts

Media Arts enjoys a broad range of projects and facilities for all grade levels. Integrated, project-based learning incorporates:

  • graphic design,
  • animation design and production,
  • digital photography,
  • broadcasting,
  • video production work.

Some projects are integrated into homeroom content areas. Others are part of our Lower School and Upper School studio curriculum.

Tune in to our student-run Screamin' Eagle Radio.


Music Curriculum
Lower School students at Summit explore their musicianship in a variety of ways. They:

  • Compose
  • Improvise
  • Listen with awareness
  • Move in creative and structured ways
  • Sing using a beautiful head tone with expression
  • Play a variety of percussion instruments, a soprano recorder and ukuleles

Upper School students make a choice in 6th grade about how they will continue their music education. Students choose between band, chorus and music exploration. 7th and 8th graders then make the decision to continue in a band or chorus ensemble for those years. 9th grade students can participate in a musical with the theater department.

Music literacy is developed in a variety of ways including speaking rhythms with the Takadimi system and singing the diatonic scale with sulfege and hand signs. The National Core Music Standards are the foundation for the music program.

Integrated Units
4th Grade musicians experience and explore music from the Colonial Period in conjunction with the Patriot’s Day event. The Living Biographies project sends students on a journey through music history to connect with and appreciate music from several centuries.

5th Grade musicians experience and explore music from Chinese, Irish and American Folk traditions in conjunction with their American Immigration unit.

7th Grade musicians connect with the music of the Medieval Period using hand drums, various sizes of recorders and Morris dance. They also learn about asymmetrical meters and the tradition of Greek dance during the Greek Cultures unit.

Summit Singers Choral Ensembles
Summit Singers chorus ensembles work to learn choral technique and performance skills through singing and studying a wide array of music. Sixth, seventh, and eighth grade choruses build upon the music literacy foundations from lower school. Two and three part harmony singing skills are explored and solidified.

Choruses perform two concerts each year. In addition, groups perform around Winston-Salem at sports events, retirement communities, and special events in the community. Festivals for adjudication are attended each year.

Visual Arts

The Visual Arts program at Summit School offers students, at their own personal level, a safe environment to pioneer their artistic expression. The children also enhance their academic performance through:
• Fostering originality and creativity
• Bolstering confidence in their own ideas and improving self-esteem
• Encouraging independence and problem solving skills
• Encouraging community collaboration
• Improving fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination
• Encouraging creativity through memory, observation, and imagination

Visual Arts facilities at Summit include two art studios, a pottery studio, and a photography classroom. In studio art, students from all divisions explore a variety of media.

Our performing arts program includes performance opportunities in both music and drama in our two main performance spaces: the 300-seat Loma Hopkins Theatre and the 75-seat black box theatre.

Drama education begins in 2nd grade, with major main-stage performances in 3rd, 6th, and 8th-9th grades. Drama productions run the gamut from original plays by Summit alumnus, nationally known children's playwright Charlie Lovett '77, to Broadway style musicals, readings of Greek tragedies, and adaptations of classic literature.

Music, Dance, and Drama are also incorporated into the curriculum through the study of cultures such as Native Americans, Pioneers, Ancient Greeks, and medieval Europeans. Performance is also part of our audio and video production program, which includes writing, filming, and editing original films; recording radio dramas; and writing and presenting news broadcasts.