Academy for Performing Arts

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Academy for Performing Arts
Academy For Performing Arts Logo.png
1776 Raritan Road

, ,

United States
Coordinates40°37′01″N 74°21′34″W / 40.6170°N 74.3595°W / 40.6170; -74.3595Coordinates: 40°37′01″N 74°21′34″W / 40.6170°N 74.3595°W / 40.6170; -74.3595
TypeMagnet public high school
School districtUnion County Vocational Technical Schools
NCES School ID3418040[2]
PrincipalKelly Douglas-Jackson[1]
Faculty12.7 FTEs[2]
Enrollment232 (as of 2019–20)[2]
Student to teacher ratio18.3:1[2]
Color(s)Black, White, Silver
AccreditationMiddle States Association of Colleges and Schools[3]

The Union County Academy for Performing Arts is a full-time four-year public magnet high school located in Scotch Plains, in Union County, New Jersey, United States, on the Union County Vocational Technical Schools Campus. Its first year was the 2008–2009 school year. While the school originally offered two majors; theatre and dance; a program in technical theatre was added in the 2015–2016 school year. The school is part of the Union County Vocational Technical Schools (UCVTS), which serves students in all of Union County. The school has been accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools since 2017.[3]

The students are on the Union County Vocational Technical Schools Campus for the first three years of high school, while their senior year is spent at Kean University. While attending Kean, their courses follow the program for the first year in the performing arts concentration.[4]

As of the 2019–20 school year, the school had an enrollment of 232 students and 12.7 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 18.3:1. There were 19 students (8.2% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 6 (2.6% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.[2]

Awards, recognition and honors[edit]

In 2016, the Academy for Performing Arts was one of ten schools in New Jersey, and one of two high school programs in the state, recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education.[5]

In its listing of "America's Best High Schools 2016", the school was ranked 203rd out of 500 best high schools in the country; it was ranked 32nd among all high schools in New Jersey.[6]

In its 2013 report on "America's Best High Schools", The Daily Beast ranked the school 962nd in the nation among participating public high schools and 71st among schools in New Jersey.[7] ranked the school 20th out of 381 public high schools statewide in its 2011 rankings (a decrease of 6 positions from the 2010 ranking) which were based on the combined percentage of students classified as proficient or above proficient on the mathematics (97.8%) and language arts literacy (100.0%) components of the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA).[8]


Applicants to the high school proceed through the admission process as follows:

  • Attendance at an information session
  • Submission of an application to the Principal's office
  • Academic examination of grades from 7th grade, the first marking period of 8th and NJASK scores
  • Notification of English and math admission test
  • English and math admission tests
  • Notification of academic qualification and invitation to dance/theatre audition
  • Notification of acceptance

The following criteria are considered for admission:

  • Grade Point Average (7th and 8th grade)
  • Standardized test scores (7th grade)
  • Admission assessments

Academically qualified candidates will then come back to audition for their career path which can be either Dance or Theatre Arts. They will be judged by a panel with a background in that career.

Graduation requirements[edit]

In order to graduate from the Academy for Performing Arts, a student is required to have taken:

  • Four years of Performing Arts
    • Freshmen: Dance I or Theatre I
    • Sophomore: Dance II or Theatre II
    • Junior: Dance III or Theatre III
    • Senior: Intro to Theatre and Acting I or Intro to Choreography Course and Technique Course at Kean University
  • Four years of English
    • Freshmen: English I - World Literature
    • Sophomore: English II - Early American Literature
    • Junior: English III - Modern American Literature
    • Senior: College Composition ENG and Research in Technology at Kean University
  • Four years of Mathematics. Mathematics courses depend on an individual's skill level, which is determined based on an initial assessment in the 8th grade year. Students are placed into one of the following classes each year:
  • Four years of Science
    • Freshmen: Biology I, Foundations of Science (1 Semester), Scientific Data Analysis (1 Semester)
    • Sophomore: Chemistry I
    • Junior: Physics I
    • Senior: ASTR, ES, GEOL, or METR at Kean University
  • Four Years of Fitness/Health
    • Dance majors will fulfill Physical Education requirements through the Dance Program, allowing more instructional time in the major
  • Three Years of Social Studies
    • Freshmen: World History
    • Sophomore: US History I
    • Junior: US History II
  • Three Years of a World Language.
    • Spanish I - Spanish IV
    • Hispanic Culture & Literature
    • Linguistics
  • One half year of Career Education
    • This requirement is integrated into other courses and does not impact scheduling.

The building[edit]

The building first opened in September 2010. The school features two dance studios, two theatre studios, a recording studio, a black box theatre, a technical theatre room, a make-up room, dressing rooms and a lighting booth.

Partnership with Kean University[edit]

In addition to attending APA the first three years of high school, students are sent to Kean University during their senior year and are eligible to receive one full year of college credits on a Kean University transcript.[9]

Due to the discrepancy between the required number of days of attendance for a high school senior versus the schedule of classes at Kean, students are expected to complete a senior project or take an internship to make up the difference.


  1. ^ Principal's Message, Academy for Performing Arts. Accessed January 20, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e School data for Academy For Performing Arts, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed April 1, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Union County Academy for Performing Arts, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools. Accessed January 20, 2020.
  4. ^ Overview, Academy for Performing Arts. Accessed November 8, 2020. "The culmination of the program allows students to complete their senior year by taking college-level courses and receiving college credit at Kean University."
  5. ^ 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools All Public and Non‐Public, National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. Accessed November 13, 2016.
  6. ^ Staff. "America's Best High Schools 2016", Newsweek. Accessed November 11, 2016.
  7. ^ Streib, Lauren. "America's Best High Schools", The Daily Beast, May 6, 2013. Accessed May 9, 2013.
  8. ^ New Jersey High School Rankings: 11th Grade HSPA Language Arts Literacy & HSPA Math 2010-2011[permanent dead link], Accessed February 23, 2012.
  9. ^ Academy For Performing Arts, New Jersey Department of Education. Accessed November 13, 2016. "An articulation agreement is in place with Kean University whereby students will spend their high school senior year at Kean University taking a full freshman college course load which includes a concentration in their Performing Arts major."

External links[edit]