Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts

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Ruth Asawa School of the Arts
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts is located in San Francisco
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts is located in San Francisco
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts is located in California
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts is located in the United States
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts
555 Portola Drive
San Francisco, California 94131[1]
Coordinates37°44′43″N 122°26′55″W / 37.7454°N 122.4486°W / 37.7454; -122.4486Coordinates: 37°44′43″N 122°26′55″W / 37.7454°N 122.4486°W / 37.7454; -122.4486
PrincipalBarnaby Payne
Enrollment664 (2016-17)[2]
CampusMcAteer Campus
MascotThe Rainbow Dragon

The Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts is a public arts high school in San Francisco, California, United States, which offers students an alternative college preparatory experience: a full academic curriculum complemented by a pre-professional arts training program in which students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The creative community at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts is a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse population, representative of the celebrated diversity of San Francisco. It is within the Twin Peaks area.[3]


The Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts is the only San Francisco public high school with an audition process for admission. Prospective students can choose to apply to one of the various disciplines: Architecture and Design, Creative Writing and Spoken Word, Dance, Instrumental Music (Band, Guitar, Orchestra), Media and Film, Musical Theatre, Piano, Technical Theater, Theatre, Visual, Vocal (both Classical Voice and Jazz Vocal) and World Music and Dance.

Students receive academic instruction in the morning and spend the balance of the day immersed in learning the essential skills and craft of their chosen area of creative study. The department directors have created inspiring hands-on programs that draw on the talents of over 66 Artists-in-Residence working in the broader arts community, recruited to support specific goals of each department's curriculum. This unique teaching structure exposes students to fresh ideas and experiences, creating a learning environment where vision, creativity and passion are valued in the formation of the whole person.

The Ruth Asawa School of the Arts ranks among the top public high schools in the district. Among the graduates pursuing higher education, 90% attend traditional colleges and universities; the remaining 10% choose to matriculate to art schools and conservatories. A number of Ruth Asawa School of the Arts alumni have gone on to attend the Juilliard School, Rhode Island School of Design, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Colburn School, Art Center College of Design, and other esteemed institutions for higher learning in the arts.

Many programs that now benefit students across the Bay Area, including Art and Film for Teenagers and Engineers Alliance for the Arts, were launched at this school. The Friends of Ruth Asawa SF SOTA Foundation (known as FoSOTA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which manages the arts budgets, actively fundraises and provides support for the artists-in-residence and other programs, materials and equipment needed for the sixteen arts disciplines. The school encourages the San Francisco community to attend school events.


For many years, Ruth Asawa, sculptor and passionate advocate for arts in education, as well as others had campaigned to start a public high school in San Francisco devoted to the arts, with the ultimate goal of such a school to be located in the arts corridor in the heart of San Francisco's Civic Center.

At its inception in 1982, SOTA was created as a part of J. Eugene McAteer High School, on its present site on Portola Drive. Ten years later, in 1992, the school - now a full-fledged public school separate from McAteer - was relocated to the former SFUSD Frederick Burke Elementary School at 700 Font Boulevard on the campus of San Francisco State University. Due to the dissolution of McAteer High School in 2002, SOTA was offered to return to the more appropriate, fully equipped high school site. The school community elected to make this move, with the understanding that the school would eventually be situated in the Civic Center.[4]

In 2005 a new public high school, the Academy of Arts and Sciences, was started and given space on the McAteer campus. Although it shares the campus with the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, it is a completely separate school.[5] Now called The Academy - San Francisco @ McAteer, it admits students through the normal high school admissions process.

In 2010, SOTA was renamed the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts in honor of Ruth Asawa.[6] In 2011, the school was recognized as a "California Distinguished School" by the California Department of Education as one of the state's most "exemplary and inspiring" public schools, demonstrating significant gains in narrowing the achievement gap among its students.[7]


White Latino Asian African American Pacific Islander American Indian Two or More Races [Declined to State]
41.3% 15.1% 19.0% 7.8% 5.0% 0.6% 5.4% 5.8%

According to US News and World Report, the portion of the student body coming from economically disadvantaged households as determined by income is 27%[8]


To enter Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, prospective students must pass a rigorous audition into one of the many disciplines. The audition process varies among disciplines, and may change from year to year. Architecture & Design, Visual Arts and Theater Tech departments require students to bring a portfolio of their work to be presented before a panel of judges. The Media & Film department requires prospective students to bring in a short film, or a storyboard. The Theatre, Dance, Instrumental Music, Piano, World Music and Dance, Spoken Word and Vocal Music departments require live performances by prospective students as part of their auditions. Creative Writing requires students to write responses to a set of prompts while on the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts campus on audition day and there is a brief, one on one interview with the department head.

Prospective students are encouraged to attend school shows and events, They are welcome to take one of the three school tours in the fall which include admissions info sessions. It is suggested that they shadow for a day. All admission information is available on the school's website. There are several parent ambassadors with whom parents and students can connect through the Parents for Public Schools Ambassador network.


Ruth Asawa School of the Arts does not have an athletics program, but students are allowed to join the teams of The Academy - San Francisco @ McAteer as it is the closest public high school with sports teams. All students, however, must fulfill the district-mandated requirement of 4 semesters of physical education. This is not restricted to taking a Physical Education course at a school.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Asawa San Francisco School Of The Arts (SOTA)". San Francisco Unified School District. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  2. ^ "Ruth Asawa School of the Arts School Accountability Report Card" (PDF). San Francisco Unified School District. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  3. ^ "Location." Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. Retrieved on April 19, 2018. "We are located in the city's Twin Peaks neighborhood."
  4. ^ Kottmeier, Gisela (February 12, 2014). "District approves SOTA relocation". The Lowell. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  5. ^ "Academy of Arts and Sciences". San Francisco Unified School District. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  6. ^ Tucker, Jill (February 24, 2010). "S.F. school board votes to send pink out slips". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  7. ^ "2011 Distinguished Middle and High Schools". California Department of Education. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Nguyen, Chris (2018-03-03). "Sam Rockwell's alma mater in San Francisco hoping for Oscar glory". ABC7 San Francisco. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  10. ^ Trevenon, Stacy (March 9, 2001). "The music man cometh". Half Moon Bay Review. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  11. ^ Whiting, Sam (March 2, 2016). "Most likely to... Actors and their Bay Area high schools". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-05-09.

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