Saint Viator Continues its Commitment to the Fine Arts, 60 Years Later

An expansive remodel of the theater’s lighting system this fall confirms just how much Saint Viator High School and the Viatorians value the fine arts. As the school kicks off its 60-year anniversary year, a look back at a booklet from its 1961 dedication sets the stage. It lists nine objectives articulating the school's mission, including the ninth pillar, which moves beyond faith formation and academic excellence to promote experiences in art, music, and drama.

That commitment continues as students are required to take at least two semesters of fine arts classes to complete their graduation requirements. They have plenty of options to choose from, including taking courses in the performing arts (choir and band), theater, and art, design, and technology.

Here’s a closer look at some of their current units.

With the theater remodel in full swing, the annual fall play, "Noises Off," has been rescheduled for the spring – and that’s after the February production of the musical, "Pippin." Instead, under the direction of Theater teacher Megan Gray, students are participating in a new Theatre Outreach course. In it, students are producing a traveling children's musical to perform around the community. Their first touring show is "Miss Nelson is Missing!" based on the classic children's book.

Backstage in the band room, Director Ben Clemmons has introduced the concert and symphonic bands to the contemporary marching band music composed by Randall Standridge, as well as more traditional band literature composed by Hugh M. Stuart. Look for them to perform selections from both composers at the Fall Band and Choral Concert, as well as the famous work, "Variations on a Korean Folk Song," by John Barnes Chance.  

“Instrumental music is one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer,” Mr. Clemmons says, “when a group of individuals holds each other to a high standard and work together to achieve their goals.”

New Choral Director, Dr. John Hughes, will make his debut at that same Fall Band and Choral Concert on Oct. 28. He’s been working with the Concert Choir, Treble Choir, Music Ministry Ensemble, and Chamber Singers, and he’s set the bar high. In preparation for the concert, they are working on a diverse set of music, that includes works by familiar names like J.S. Bach, Benjamin Britten, and Vincent Persichetti, as well as folk songs and spirituals.

He brings his background in leading collegiate and adult choral ensembles to Saint Viator, which are all grounded in his passion for teaching.

“I’ve always loved teaching – and inspiring the next generation of singers,” Dr. Hughes says.

Up in the art studio students are intrigued by the state-of-the-art 3-D printers that were installed during the 2015 renovation of the fine arts facilities. Teacher Matt Gruenfeld led students in 3-D design and advanced 3-D classes in creating pinch pot masks – or masks of their own faces -- and now are moving on to working with copper. They also are making relief sculptures inspired by the late pop artist Keith Haring. 

At the same time, Mr. C.J. Zimmerman is teaching two sections of Introduction to Adobe Photoshop, in which he helps students see the application as a creative tool for image editing and design. 

“While we explore Photoshop as a tool,” he says, “this is an art and design class, and content, composition, discussions, and critiques are integral.” 

In iPad media, students completed a series of portraits during their first photoshoot, and they are diving into a stop-motion animation unit, next. Finally, students who are taking Introduction to Visual Art are working on a drawing unit that has them creating pieces inspired by the work of cubist artists from the early 20th century, including Pablo Picasso.  

Saint Viator High School

Located in Arlington Heights, IL, Saint Viator High School is a private, co-ed, Catholic school for grades 9-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.