Tara Performing Arts High School
4180 19th St
Boulder CO 80304
Contact 303-440-4510 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tara Performing Arts High School is committed to an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone; we extend the same rights and privileges to all prospective and current students. Tara does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, religion, disability, medical condition, marital status, citizenship status, military service status or other basis prohibited by law.
Waldorf education, as pioneered by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, is a phenomenon of our times. From a deeply human and spiritual perspective, it addresses our modern age of intellectual achievement, both in its accomplishments and its insufficiencies. The Waldorf high school offers a rigorous and engaging academic curriculum that aims to prepare the student for life beyond high school, whatever that may be. Through its art-permeated approach to most subjects, it gives the young human being the possibility of growing into adulthood strong in soul and spirit. When first introduced in the early twentieth century, it was termed an educational system ahead of its time. Now it can truly be called a system whose time has come!
Main Lessons and Track Classes
One of the characteristics of Waldorf education is the main lesson block system, in which many major subjects are taught intensively, usually for approximately two hours each day for three weeks. These subjects are pedagogically in tune with the students’ developmental stages as they move through the grades. Math, foreign language and English are taught in track classes that meet two to four times a week throughout the school year.
Presentation of Academic Work
In Waldorf schools, most subjects are taught without textbooks; teachers present the information in class, and students take notes and write up short essays or observations that they transcribe into beautifully presented personal records of the material called main lesson books. At Tara, main lesson books differ from those of lower school Waldorf students, in that well-thought-out and clearly presented content is the primary focus for evaluation. A main lesson book with superlative content and little art is just as likely to earn a high grade as one with inspiring artwork.
To Learn More
Please see the Math & Science, Humanities, and “Electives” sections on this page for more details about how these subjects are taught at Tara. To learn more about Waldorf education, go to www.waldorfeducation.org and www.waldorftoday.com.
Math classes meet four times per week for a full hour. Each grade has two levels of math: the regular track (Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus) and the honors track (Algebra II, Advanced Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus). Colorado state colleges require graduates to have four years of math.
The sciences in a Waldorf school are taught as part of the main lesson block plan, so that students study the subject matter intensively, then return to build upon their knowledge the following year. Generally, two blocks equal six units, or slightly more than one semester. For example, Physics I and II (grades 9 and 10) equal just over one semester and Physics III and IV (grades 11 and 12) equal a little more than another semester, giving a total of twelve physics units upon completion of the curriculum.
“Students typically experience more science phenomena at Tara than I experienced in my high school advanced placement study and my college degree in chemistry [at MIT].” – Robert Mays, Visiting Chemistry Teacher
In a Waldorf high school, many class names begin with the words ‘History through.’ The study of art, drama, music and architecture unfolds in a historical context, providing deep understanding of the chronology of and the relationships between artistic and cultural developments. These courses provide a rich background for the study of human history (in the more traditional sense of the word), in which the ninth grade Tara students learn about World Wars I & II and modern European and American history; in the tenth grade, they focus on civics and American documents. During their World History trip to Europe, the twelfth graders get a firsthand experience of much of the culture and history they’ve studied. The four-year curriculum provides our graduates with a well-rounded comprehension of human history.
Literature is at the heart of Tara’s English program. One-and-a-half-hour English track classes are held twice a week throughout the year; students read, discuss and write about books chosen to complement their curriculum and development. Many main lessons also have literature as their focus: during these three-week blocks, great books and their authors are studied intensively. Writing and grammar, natural parts of English track and all main lesson classes, are specifically introduced and reinforced in dedicated courses in each grade. Tenth graders also enjoy a poetry block, during which they read and study the work of many poets and become poets themselves. And Tara’s many in-class writing exercises and academic journal requirements for all festivals, plays and trips help to develop our students’ extraordinary ability to articulate insights and emotions.
Following Rudolf Steiner’s indication that students should learn one Romance and one Germanic language, we currently offer Spanish and German. Our goal is that students graduate with the ability to communicate while visiting a country where the language is spoken (something our German students practice in Vienna on the senior trip), a firm background in the literature and culture, and a solid foundation in grammar. Three years of foreign language are required (two years must be the same language). If a student elects to take the fourth year of language, it is an honors-level class. Universities and colleges are increasingly considering a fourth year of language to be a plus in a student’s academic profile, even though it is not required by most schools.
Tara’s rich curriculum includes many classes that would be electives at other schools, including music theory, chorus, blacksmithing, art, yearbook, drama, and more. Our physical education program is made up of a variety of movement classes: stage combat, eurythmy (a movement art developed by Rudolf Steiner), yoga, dance, fitness and games. In Class Meeting, each grade meets weekly with its two faculty sponsors to discuss current and future events and, more importantly, to develop relationships of trust and openness to deal with personal issues that arise in the group.
“Had I gone to a different school, I would have learned as many facts and figures as I did at Tara, but I suspect that the knowledge would rest in the brain of a very different person from the one I am now.” – Alumnus, Class of 2009
Ninth grade students live in a state of dramatically different contrasts in emotion and experience. Things are black and white, happy or sad, wonderful or terrible. And whichever state they’re in (and it changes from moment to moment) is large and all consuming. This developmental stage is the guiding principle underlying the academics for this year. In Comedy & Tragedy, the curriculum contrasts Greek tragedy and Charlie Chaplin and Moliere, for example; in History through Art, students look at artwork not only in terms of composition, but also how light and dark play into the artistic work of the great masters. Ninth grade chemistry experiments include spectacular chemical reactions, which the students then have to record in an exacting scientific manner. And this theme continues throughout year in main lessons, literature and the class play.
“I love learning at Tara so much that I would like to have school every day except for Christmas and my birthday!” – Ninth grade student
Tenth grade students begin to compare and contrast ideas, asking themselves (and their teachers), “How are these different?” For example, in their study of Native American cultures, the characteristics of the Northern and Southern tribes are compared; on the trip that is an integral part of the block, students experience the ancient spiritual traditions and ask themselves, “How could these universal truths of respect and compassion be carried into our modern daily life?” In American Documents, they explore the questions “How were these documents created?” and “How have the themes evolved over the centuries and how are they still applicable to modern political life?”
Tenth graders often find themselves feeling somewhat disconnected and restless; our curriculum meets that state of being with dynamic academics, beginning in the fall with the Native American Traditions block and ending in the spring with Geology, a week of which is conducted outside, mornings spent rafting the San Juan River and afternoon classes held in the towering geologic formations surrounding them.
“Tara is an exercise of the soul; students are nurtured and challenged in such a way that deep growth and search for true meaning is a constant process.” – Alumna, Class of 2008
In the eleventh grade, there is a substantial increase in academic and personal expectations and performance. These students begin to hone their analytical abilities, looking beyond and behind phenomena and ideas, asking the question “Why?” and looking for answers. This spirit of inquiry underlies the entire eleventh grade curriculum. For example, a cornerstone of this year is the medieval classic Parsival in which asking the right question – or neglecting to do so – profoundly influences the hero’s journey; the students identify with trials he has to go through to gain life experience. And on the Hamlet retreat, the question so magnificently articulated in the famous “To be or not to be” speech and other questions raised by the play are central to the discussions held throughout the week.
“Tara has helped my daughter paint herself in her true colors.” – Alumni Parent
Leadership and personal responsibility are important parts of the senior year at Tara. As students step closer to adulthood and begin to focus on their own promise and possibility, they gain much from the study of great writers, philosophers, scientists and artists, both as individuals and as representatives of the schools of thought they embody. The twelfth grader asks, “Who believed/created/imagined this?” “Who am I and what will I believe/create/imagine?”
“I learned to trust myself at Tara, and this set me on a wonderful, winding, path.” – Alumna, Class of 2005
The college application process at Tara is unique. By the end of 11th grade, college choices have been discussed in parent and student meetings. Tara faculty then counsels each family individually, suggesting a range of appropriate colleges, and students conduct personal research over the summer. In the first three weeks of 12th grade, they work on their essays one on one with a published author/ former college professor and complete their applications, which are mailed by mid-October. The students are then free to focus on and fully experience the senior year curriculum.
Tara has become known at a number of colleges and universities for the beautiful presentations of our students. In a mini-portfolio, known as ‘the green folder,’ students introduce themselves with photos, artwork and an explanation of Tara’s rich curriculum of music, theater, dance and community service. These days, when so many college applicants have the same high qualifications, a Tara student’s offering stands out and calls special, positive attention to the application.
The following is a list of some colleges at which Tara students have been accepted:
Agnes Scott College
American Academy of Art
American Academy of Dramatic ArtsAmerican Musical & Dramatic Academy
American University of Paris
Arizona State University
Art Institute of Chicago
Berklee College of Music
Bryn Mawr College
California Lutheran University
College of the Atlantic
College of Santa Fe
College of Wooster
Colorado Mountain College
Colorado State University
Columbia College Chicago
Cornish College of the Arts
Design Institute of San Diego
Eastern Oregon University
Emory and Henry College
Eugene Lang, The New School
Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
Evergreen State College
Franklin Pierce College
Fort Lewis College
George Washington University
Green Mountain College
Humboldt State University
Lewis & Clark College
Long Island University
Marymount Manhattan College
Mesa State College
Minot State College
Molloy College, CAP Conservatory
New World School of the Arts
New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts
New York University
North Carolina School of the Arts
Northern Arizona University
Ohio Wesleyan University
Portland State University
Richmond University, London
St. Andrews Presbyterian College
St. Andrews Presbyterian College
St. Olaf College
St. John’s College
San Francisco State University
Sarah Lawrence College
Santa Fe University of Art & Design
Savannah College of Art & Design
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Sonoma State University
Southern Methodist University
Southern Vermont College
The New School for Drama
Università Ca’ Foscari, Venezia
University of the Arts
University of California, Davis
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Denver
University of Essex, East 15 Acting School
University of Findlay
University of Hawaii, Manoa
University of Massachusetts
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of New Hampshire
University of Northern Colorado
University of Puget Sound
University of Rhode Island
University of San Francisco
University of Southern Oregon
University of Victoria
University of Washington
Warren Wilson College
Tara delivers a well-rounded liberal arts education in an intimate setting, with no more than fifteen students in each grade level. In accordance with the school’s Waldorf philosophy, subjects are presented in a manner that encourages personal engagement and fosters appreciation of the world's diversity and vitality.
“I left Tara with a voracious hunger for knowledge and its application. To this day I find myself seeking meaning, connection, and understanding in every aspect of my life.” – Alumna, Class of 2005