We believe meaningful engagement with the arts is an integral part of scholarship and active citizenship. To reflect this value, every school employs full-time arts educators as part of their core academic team that teaches all scholars. We also offer a variety of after-school activities and partnerships to support specialized growth and training in the arts.

Arts Classes for All Scholars

Across the K-12 spectrum, every scholar receives formal instruction in 2-3 artistic disciplines (music, visual art, dance, theater, step, film). Through these core arts classes, we grow our scholars’ capacities to think critically, communicate fluently, and take informed, creative action within an artistic discipline. Arts classes emphasize knowledge and skill-building, art-making, and ongoing inquiry into how the arts reflect and shape personal identity and culture.

Scholars contribute to their school’s arts culture through regular showcases, concerts, exhibitions, and other opportunities to share creative output. From the earliest years in Kindergarten, creative expression is framed as a powerful vehicle for self-discovery and civic engagement.

Arts-Specific Support for Teachers

Arts teachers receive arts-specific professional development, feedback and evaluation, and play a pivotal role both in their own school’s arts programs, and as contributors to the DPPS Arts network support system. Each year the DPPS Arts team implements a strategy to strengthen the common threads all arts disciplines share, and increase systemic value for the arts in all of our geographic regions.

Extracurricular Ensembles

Democracy Prep offers many opportunities outside the classroom for additional arts instruction. Extracurricular arts options vary from campus to campus, and include string orchestra, jazz band, piano band, chorus, dance and step club, stand-up comedy, improv troupe, fall plays and spring musicals. Previous productions include Little Shop of Horrors, Twelfth Night, RENT, Tempest Toss’d, Hairspray, Lion King Jr., In the Heights, Little Mermaid Jr., Peter Pan Jr, Into the Woods, Jr., Once On This Island, Jr., Cinderella, scholar-written plays and many more!

DPNYC Music Academy

Grade 3-12 scholars in our NYC schools enjoy complimentary access to the DPNYC Music Academy, which meets after school and on Saturdays from October – June. Music Academy participants learn how to play the keyboard, read music, and pursue excellence as a musical ensemble. Participants interested in maximizing performing opportunities can audition for any of our Piano Bands, which perform throughout the school year at Democracy Prep and external events.

DP Speech and Debate

Democracy Prep’s NYC Speech & Debate program is making history around the country.  For the past five years, our scholars have won top honors at prestigious tournaments such as Yale, Harvard, Princeton and George Mason University, to name only a few.  Over 300,000 high school students enter these tournaments each year, and only six individuals advance to the national stage.  In 2018, DP made history at Nationals, being the first school to have two out of six national finalists in Duo Interpretation.  DP was also honored with a plaque of the highest distinction that is only awarded to the top ten high schools in the nation. The National Speech and Debate Association is the largest merit/honors program in the country, and Democracy Prep’s presence within it continues to grow each year!

Arts Partnerships

Our partnerships with the following NYC organizations further strengthen our value for the arts:

Theatre Development Fund –  scholars study with high-quality teaching artists and experience live Broadway theater. 

Hamilton Education Program at Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History  –  scholars craft original skits from primary historical documents and attend a matinee performance of Hamilton.

Lincoln Center Education – teachers have worked with Lincoln Center teaching artists and study principles of Aesthetic Education to strategically plan how our core arts instruction can best prepare scholars for the dynamic world that awaits them.

Stand Up Girls – young women have the opportunity to study stand-up comedy, craft their own 5-minute routine, and perform it for friends and family at a NYC Comedy club.

From our fundamental belief that arts are core for all scholars to the specialized opportunities we offer to prepare interested scholars for college arts programs and careers, the arts are thriving at Democracy Prep!