Tacoma School of the Arts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Tacoma School of the Arts
Tacoma SOTA logo.jpg
TypeVisual and Performing Arts School
Established2001; 18 years ago (2001)
School districtTacoma Public Schools
DeanBliss King
PrincipalJon Ketler and Renee Froembling
Number of students629 (2016-17)[1]
Campus typeUrban

The Tacoma School of the Arts (SOTA or TSOTA) is the only arts school in the greater Tacoma, Washington area. SOTA historically only housed grades 10 through 12, but beginning in the 2012 school year, it began admitting students in the 9th grade as well.[2] SOTA's student capacity is around 600 students.[3] SOTA was established in the fall of 2001, with help from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.[4] Classes are housed in multiple venues across downtown Tacoma, in buildings that have historically served many purposes—including a department store, a music store, and a dance studio.[5]

SOTA and SAMi also offer University of Washington Credits through multiple classes and beginning in 2014 offer over 20 College in the High School classes for credit through Tacoma Community College.[6]

SOTA was one of three Washington state school winners of the inaugural state Schools of Excellence in Arts Education Award, part of the national program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Schools of Distinction in Arts Education Awards.[7] Shortly after, SOTA was one of only four schools in the inaugural year to win at the national level.[citation needed]


Many SOTA projects are student-run, including some aspects of the school's administration.

SOTA Music Box Building
Address302 S. Ninth Street Tacoma, WA 98402
United States
OwnerTacoma School of the Arts
ArchitectMcGranahan Architects

Students have directed theatrical productions including The Glass Menagerie and The Last of the Darling Brent Girls, the latter also written by a student.[8]

Departments offered include those of the Visual Arts (photography, graphic design, film, drawing, and painting) and those of the Performing Arts (songwriting and audio recording, instrumental music, singer-songwriter, vocal music, dance, and technical theater).

Daily life and academics[edit]

The school day is arranged to have four periods a day, in block periods over the week. Mondays and Wednesdays at SOTA students attend periods 1-4, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays students attend periods 5-8. There are 20 minute passing periods, as classes are held in over 10 different buildings and businesses. Three of these buildings are owned by Tacoma Public Schools and they are all within one square mile. Some classes are housed in the University of Washington Tacoma, Tacoma Art Museum and the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts.

Annual events include mentor day in the park, and SOTA Camp.

Student opportunities[edit]

In 2008, SOTA created its own FIRST FRC team with the help of Team 360 from Bellarmine Preparatory School. They are FIRST FRC team 2557, the SOTABots. Their first year, the SOTABots came in second, won Rookie of the Year in the FIRST Microsoft Seattle Regional,[9] and went on to get 22nd place in their division in the Atlanta International Competition.[10]

Since 2008, the SOTABots have won the Microsoft Seattle Regional in 2010, the Seattle Cascade Regional in 2012, and multiple awards for their Gracious Professionalism and their safety practices.[11]

Notable alumni[edit]

Name Position Notes
Jared Pappas-Kelley Video & Screenwriting Instructor Co-creator of Toby Room magazine and curator of ArtRod
Brent Hartinger Creative Writing Instructor Author of the award-winning banned-book Geography Club
Garth Stein Creative Writing Instructor Author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
Name Year of Graduation Notes
Madelaine Petsch 2012

Actress in Riverdale

In popular culture[edit]

Several SOTA buildings were used in the film 10 Things I Hate About You; the guitar store in the film is now part of the SOTA music department, as well as Club SOTA,[12] an all-ages club hosted by the school.[13]

Sister schools[edit]

The Tacoma Science and Math Institute, or SAMI, opened for the 2009-2010 school year. Industrial Design, Engineering, and Arts, also known as IDEA was opened in the 2016-2017 school year. They are both the district's other magnet schools, with a schedule and concept similar to SOTA.[14]


  1. ^ "Tacoma School of the Arts". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  2. ^ http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/03/08/2059136/tacoma-school-of-the-arts-adds.html
  3. ^ Tacoma School of the Arts - Tacoma, WA
  4. ^ Allen, Kent - The Gatekeeper, U.S. News & World Report
  5. ^ Tacoma School of the Arts (TSOTA)
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ Tacoma School of the Arts - Events
  9. ^ Fontaine, Scott - School of the Arts headed to world competition, The News Tribune (23 March 2008)
  10. ^ Fontaine, Scott - SOTA robotics team prepares for national competition, The News Tribune (1 April 2008)
  11. ^ FIRST Official Team History - [3], FIRST Official Team History (27 March 2012)
  12. ^ Venues: Club SOTA, The News Tribune
  13. ^ Driscoll, Matt - Pay to play - no way, Weekly Volcano (28 February 2008)
  14. ^ http://www.tsami.org

External links[edit]