Art at Berkeley High

Parent Q&A

  • BHS Art Electives for Incoming 9th Grader

    (3 replies)


    We are trying to decide between arts electives at BHS including Drawing, Ceramics, Creative Arts and Photography for my incoming 9th grader. Does anyone have anything to share via their children? I know there are probably numerous teachers in each subject (and much is related to that), but any input you may have would be very much appreciated!



    The arts program at Berkeley High is blessed with a lot of gifted teachers.  It is definitely one of their strong suits, along with music and dance.

    If I were you, I would choose a "hands-on" art the first year, and save photography for later.  My kid took Digital Photography in 10th grade, and it was a nice elective to have in the midst of more challenging courses.  Moreover, it takes longer to build physical art skills, and so the younger, the better.  

    It is impossible for me to recommend specific teachers, because whether or not your child will be assigned to a particular teacher will depend on various elements out of your control.  Moreover, now that 9th-graders are not put into "schools," I have no idea what the criteria will be for filtering students into one "program" or another.  

    My current 9th grader is taking Drawing with Corey Rowland this year and has gotten a lot out of it. She's always been artistic and enjoys drawing but never found an art class that was a "fit" in the past. I've also been impressed with the teacher, the assignments and the general vibe of the classroom. Good luck!

    Creative Arts is an amazing class, taught by Kimberley D'Adamo who is a wonderful artist. She is also a kind teacher who believes in supporting each individual's process for conceptualizing and creating artwork. I believe that there are only two sections of Creative Arts this year and she teaches them both. My daughter, a Sophomore, likes the class so much that she has signed up to take Ms. D'Adamo's IB Studio Art as a Junior. The art that the students produce (mostly Freshmen and Sophomores) is truly wonderful. Best of Luck at BHS!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


How is the art program at BHS overall?

Feb 2012

My daughter will enroll at Berkeley High in the fall, and we had been leaning towards the IB program because it has worked well for my stepkids and a number of other kids I know. But at the BHS info night this week, we attended an info session for AHA and were very impressed by the quality of the kids' art, the dynamic teachers, and the articulate student presenters. Which makes me wonder...

How is the art program at BHS overall? Do artistic kids get a chance to explore art and develop their skills in IB and AC, too? And for those of you with kids in AHA, were you happy with the program overall? What are its strengths and weaknesses? (Most of the archived reviews on the site are from 2006 / 2007; it would be nice to have more recent information.) Jennifer

The Arts and Humanities Academy at Berkeley High was a wonderful fit for my son who graduated in 2011. He had took a variety of arts classes for the 4 years. The AP Studio Art class, which spans junior and senior years was fabulous. The caliber of the art work was very high and the teacher Ms Stahl is a truly amazing art teacher who is deeply committed to the AHA program. I found overall the AHA teachers really strong. The arts are incorporated in the academic classes as well. My son appreciated the community built in this small school, although at times it felt too small. Past complaints about some of the classes being too easy, I found not to be the case, especially in junior and senior year when students can take a couple of APs. I have two other sons who have taken a few art and photography classes in Academic Choice, and was not as taken by them. To me it seems that many students in the AC art classes signed up so they could take an easy class, while AHA is all about art. Wilma


I'm an IB visual arts reviewer who has reviewed artwork at BHS. I've also worked with a BHS IB student to develop an architecture portfolio. The problem with the IB program in visual arts is that students completing the full IB curriculum have to choose between taking visual art OR a second science course or language course. The AHA students have more opportunity to take visual arts courses and often produce strong artwork.


The IB student I worked with choose to take a 2nd science course and thus was unable to take an art class. This put the student at a competitive disadvantage when applying to colleges with architecture programs which required portfolios. I worked with the student to teach drawing techniques and art concepts, assemble and photograph a portfolio. Barry