School of the Arts (Rochester, New York)

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School of the Arts (SOTA)
Rochester, New York
Coordinates 43°09′30″N 77°35′26″W / 43.15843°N 77.590457°W / 43.15843; -77.590457
Type Public,
School district Rochester City School District
Principal Brenda Pacheco-Rivera;
Asst.Principal: Brian Chandler, Foundation Academy (7-8-9);
Asst. Principal: JoAnn Aspenleiter, Commencement Academy (10-11-12)
Staff 167
Grades 7-12
Enrollment Acceptance by Audition
Number of students 1,000+
Color(s) Black and Silver
Athletics Basketball, Swimming, Soccer, Tennis, Baseball, Softball, Football, Cheerleading, Bowling, Track and Field, Cross Country, Volleyball, Lacrosse.
Athletics conference Section V City Catholic League
Mascot Silver Hawk

School of the Arts (SOTA) is a progressive alternative public middle school and high school in Rochester, NY. Administered by the Rochester City School District, SOTA is located on the corner of Prince Street and University Avenue, within walking distance of the Memorial Art Gallery, Eastman Theatre, Writers & Books, Visual Studies Workshop, and other cultural organizations. The School of the Arts was founded in 1980 as an experimental program at Wilson Jr. High School. In 1981, the school transferred to Monroe High School as was known as the School of the Arts at Monroe. Only grades 7-9 were represented that year. The school stayed at Monroe for many years, eventually becoming a full Jr-Sr. High School, while retaining the name "School of the Arts at Monroe." Until it moved into its current space (the old Eastman School of Music dormitories), when it became "The School of the Arts." School of the Arts has many different after-school arts programs, called Tenth Period. Tenth Period is a class that is offers the following classes: Dance, Jazz Band, Theater Technology, Photography, Visual Arts, and Creative Writing. However, Tenth Period was canceled during the 2008-2009 school year, much to the dismay of the students. Another reason for the cancellation of Tenth Period was due to a budget problem. Now Tenth Period is used for test prep, and students have to be accompanied with a teacher, if they are staying after-school. School of the Arts students can audition into the school with one of the following majors: drama, theatre technology, dance, instrumental, vocal, visual arts, or creative writing. Students then starting in their freshman year receive two back to back forty two minute classes of their major for the rest of high school. Students are able to learn and expand their knowledge and love for their art. Students are also able to join various programs by audition. Some of those programs include: Dance Concert, Fall and Winter Productions, SOTA Singers, Black History Program, Playwrights festival, SOTA Improv group, Senior Jazz and Wind Ensembles, and many more.


As in other schools, School Of The Arts has academic classes and arts classes. SOTA offers Honors and Advanced Placement(AP) classes, Special Education, Spanish 1,2,3 and 4-Honors. Students carry a full academic course load as well as a fine arts sequence. SOTA offers a rich diversity of arts courses within seven major fine arts concentrations:

  • Creative Writing
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Instrumental (Jazz band, band, orchestra, piano, etc.)
  • Theatre Technology
  • Visual Arts
  • Vocal

Film and television[edit]

  • SOTA was featured in the major motion picture Cherry Crush, where they used the lunch room, theatres, hallways and classroom as the "public school" setting for the main characters Jordan Wells played by Jonathan Tucker and Shay Bettencourt played by Nikki Reed.
  • On June 4, 2009, SOTA received the Signature Schools Enterprise Award. They were one out of six schools that won the award, which comes with a $5,000 grant. During this award ceremony, students held a silent protest while standing in the lobby with their mouths covered with black duct tape.
  • On June 9, 2009, SOTA students held another protest against the budget plan proposed by former Superintendent Brizard that plans to cut teachers. The students marched from school to RCSD headquarters and back to City Hall, where they performed things including tap dance, poetry reading, Jazz band, and choir outside of the entrance.


Sota puts on two musicals and three plays a year, as well as an annual Dance Concert, music recitals, poetry readings/coffee houses, and other various art performances.

Budget struggles[edit]

  • The school and its programs have been continually threatened by proposed budget cuts. Protests and rallies have been organized by the students each year in protest of these cuts. These cuts planned to cut the number of arts teachers from 24 to 10, and reducing the funding for the arts program down to $2.93 per student, per day.[1]
  • Many of these protests are reported on news websites.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ [1][dead link][1].pdf
  2. ^ ""Making the Band" winner to get local recognition". Democrat and Chronicle. 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2007-09-07. 

External links[edit]