Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School

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Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School
15 Mulligan Drive
South Hadley, Massachusetts

United States
Type charter school
Founded 1996 (High School)
2004 (Middle School)
Faculty 40 (Full Time)
60 (Part Time/Administrative)
Grades 7-12
Enrollment approx. 400
Average SAT scores 612 verbal
570 math
1182 total (2016-2017)[1]

Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School, or PVPA, is a public charter school in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Founded in 1996 as part of the Massachusetts Educational Reform, PVPA was originally located in Hadley, Massachusetts, but relocated to South Hadley for its tenth year in 2005. The school serves students from over 60 towns in Western Massachusetts, but gives priority to students residing in Hampshire, Hampden, and Franklin counties as well as the towns of Petersham, Brookfield, Sturbridge, and Athol. PVPA was founded by Ljuba Marsh and Bob Brick.


Pioneer Valley Performing Arts (Charter Public School) in Western Massachusetts is known for its performing and visual arts concentrations woven into its curriculum. Students are required to take all courses that Massachusetts public schools mandate (mathematics, science, English, languages, history, etc.) but also participate in a wide variety of performing arts and visual art courses.

Students take dance courses, sculpture and other visual arts, theater, and a variety of athletic activities in addition to arts courses. PVPA serves over a thousand students grades 7-12, from over 60 towns throughout Western Massachusetts. The students also participate in the revision of the school charter as a democratic process when the charter goes through renewals.

The school has two performance spaces, a main theater and a studio theater. In the 2005-06 school year, PVPA made a deal with the Academy of Music to hold their big musical production of the year at their facilities. From 2009-11, PVPA relocated their musicals to University of Massachusetts Amherst's Bowker Auditorium. In 2012, PVPA's musical productions relocated back to the Academy of Music, and many of the school's other productions are now held there as well.[2]


PVPA is nationally known for its contributions to field of music.

Past Musical Groups The school's a cappella ensemble, Spectrum, has been acknowledged with 1st place in the Berklee College High School Jazz Festival, and 3rd place in the ICHSA competition. The Music Department covers all different styles of music-from rock to classical.

Current Offerings As of school year 2013-14, the school has offered a range of traditional and contemporary music classes. Students in High School have the options of audition based classes such as Rock Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, and Pop/R&B.


PVPA holds many theatrical productions during the school year. With shows ranging in style from Shakespeare to the sketch comedy group "Headgear" to Commedia dell'Arte and the school's World Drama production, and culminating with the school's annual Musical Theater production. Students from PVPA have gone on to attend such colleges as NYU Tisch School for Performing Arts, Boston University, and Carnegie Mellon Drama. PVPA's Mock Trial team has been recognized nationally, with numerous appearances at the Massachusetts State Bar Association State finals, as well as several national level recognitions.


As in all other forms of Art PVPA holds high standards in dance. The Dance department provides many different types of dance such as modern, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, and African dance. Funkadelic and WOFA are two of the companies. The highly acclaimed Catalyst Dance Company is a pre-professional group that tours nationally and attends the National High School Dance Festival annually.

Visual arts[edit]

The visual arts program is currently directed by American artist Martin Bridge, and includes courses on stage craft, costume design, and lighting design, in addition to more traditional fine art studies. As part of the move to the South Hadley, Massachusetts campus, department resources were moved to permanent, dedicated, facilities, featuring updated equipment and workshop space.


PVPA uses a lottery system to determine who receives entry to PVPA, because over 300 students apply for fewer than a hundred places each year. If accepted, the student's respective city/town will pay for the student as they would for their own students at their own school.


On 27 May 2009, the Evaluation Committee of the PVPA Board of Trustees recommended that the 3-year contract of co-founder and Executive Director Bob Brick not be renewed after it expires at the end of the 2009-10 academic year. The decision came as a surprise to most faculty, staff, students and parents, many of whom are organizing in support of Bob Brick and his continued tenure as the Executive Director.[3]



  1. ^ SAT Performance Report - School and District Profiles: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.; retrieved 2018-04-11.
  2. ^ Profile,, 2011-08-24; retrieved 2013-09-07.
  3. ^ "Charter school founder's job on the line", Daily Hampshire Gazette, June 13, 2009.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°14′28.7″N 72°35′57.5″W / 42.241306°N 72.599306°W / 42.241306; -72.599306