We saw the all school musical, The Producers, this fall and were absolutely blown away by the talent in every department at this school. The direction, acting, singing, dancing, vocals, stage craft, costuming and orchestra were better than some of the productions we've seen at the DCPA. Excellent training at DSA!!
The environment at DSA is nurturing and intent on developing artists with strong voices. The faculty gets to know each student since classes are relatively small and the student culture is one of creative expression.
This school gives the kids an opportunity tone immersed in their art at a much higher level. They have a very deep understanding of the art form they chose to major in. This may help them make a decision or even shape them to pursue it as a career. There is a price to be paid, however. Our children are in the vocal program and the teachers are given great latitude in the way they can treat and speak to them. There is one vocal teacher who is very arrogant and inappropriate, but also produces great results. The kids live with a constant level of anxiety because of this. Many of them do learn to cope. The culture is very liberal to such an extent that there is a great pressure against having a personal Faith or being politically or morally conservative. There is great pressure in the student body to be tolerant about everything except personal Faith beliefs. We as a family are great believers in personal freedom but find it hard when our (and other kids) children are verbally accosted for their beliefs. It seems hypocrital and has caused a great deal of personal pain for them and for us. This school has a great deal to offer but the culture of the kids and the attitude that the staff can do no wrong something to be aware of. The fees tend to be high for special events the kids are required to be a part of and fundraising is pushed heavily. Many of the kids are from affluent backgrounds which can lead to high expectations and pressure for those less well off. If you have a strongly centered child and can put up with a certain level of pressure from staff and the students then it may be a good choice. But be cautious, it is not the perfect environment despite the accolades.
The 6th grade science and social studies teachers were good. English was completely sub-par. They would have the kids read excerpts from a bunch of random books. It was 'aligned to common core' so they could be 'college and career ready', whatever that means. They never read a novel from cover to cover. I caught several grammatical errors from the 6th grade English teacher in our email communications. That should NEVER happen!
I didn't feel the school was preparing our daughter academically. Too much homework was computer-based. Most of the assignments were to be done in groups instead of individually. (It just means less grading and work for the teachers.)
We pulled our 6th grader out of the vocal program after one year. It was a nightmare. Steer clear of the vocal program. They have VERY high attrition rates compared to the other departments because of one particular vocal teacher. If you're in for band, orchestra, theater, or the creative writing program, you'll probably have a better experience. This school places WAY too much importance on standardized testing. We were not very impressed with the academics. The grammatical errors made by current students in these reviews speak for themselves.