Tacoma’s School of the Arts, a small, innovative, public high school in downtown Tacoma, offers a focus on the arts—and an opportunity for students to recognize their connection to each other and the community.
The curriculum includes dance, music, drawing and painting, graphic arts and sculpting, along with integrated math and science courses. Beyond the arts focus, SOTA works in partnership with the Science and Math Institute, or SAMi. The program is designed to prepare students for college, and many of SOTA’s courses look and feel like college courses. Classes are multi-age and interdisciplinary. Students take intensive mini-terms that dive deep into one subject, such as Caribbean music or modern architecture.
Currently, SOTA students attend classes in three buildings downtown and on the University of Washington Tacoma campus. The school will soon be relocated to a spacious new home in the heart of the city’s theater district. The Tacoma School Board voted to buy a three-story building and nearby parking garage at Ninth Street and Broadway in downtown Tacoma. The purchase price of $7.6 million included $6.2 million for the building and $1.4 million for the garage.
The new location sits across from the historic Pantages Theater and next door to the Rialto, at the previous home of the Music Box Theater, which burned down in 1963. Students will begin occupying the 302 Ninth St. building in the 2015-16 school year. According to Jon Ketler, SOTA founder and co-director, expanding arts programs in the new building will allow more opportunities for students in the community to participate.