Ambitious young artists need not wait for university to get a life-changing educational experience. Imagine waking up every morning in the stunning San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California, feeling the fresh alpine air, surrounded by a community of artists who share your zeal for creativity. At Idyllwild Arts Academy, this is a daily reality.
“For me, first off, the environment here is pretty unique,” says Yuetong, a Grade 12 visual arts major from China. “Everything here is just nature. The scenery and surroundings are just special.”
More scientific studies and reports emerge every day confirming that exposure to nature and practising art in any of its forms enhances brain development and builds positive educational, emotional, health, and personal outcomes. This school was founded in 1946 to provide a respite for aspiring visionaries of all ages to develop the skills, creativity, and innovative thinking needed to create a lifetime of success. The Idyllwild Arts Boarding Arts High School programme is reserved for teens in Grades 9-12, providing pre-professional training in the arts and a comprehensive college preparatory curriculum to gifted young artists from across the globe. Meanwhile, the Idyllwild Arts Summer Arts programmes provide quality arts instruction and once-in-a-lifetime experiences to a diverse population of all ages and abilities.
Both the Academy and the Summer Programme uniquely and intentionally cater to a global student body, seeking to forge connections and empower “Citizen Artists” who use their art to elevate the discourse and enact positive change. The ESL and Art Summer Programme is ideal for students between the ages of 14 and 17 seeking to build their English communication skills while creating lasting friendships and exploring their artistic expression. This three-and-a-half-week boarding programme immerses them in an English-speaking environment to explore a variety of visual and performing arts alongside students from various countries and cultures.
As they develop core language skills, students have the chance to nurture their creative spirit and pursue their artistic passions in a supportive and inspiring environment. The programme is fully integrated into the Student Life activities and events of the Idyllwild Arts Summer Programme, providing additional opportunities to practise one’s English skills and connect with peers. Together, they merge language, art, theatre, dance, and nature in an authentic and enjoyable way — of course, under the supervision of experienced teachers, who lead students in both formal and informal settings.
Their guidance is key as students embark on weekly off-campus excursions to artistic, cultural, and tourism destinations throughout the Southern California region. Each trip allows them to practise their English skills, meet and speak with other summer programme students, and explore the surrounding area.
“Real language acquisition often happens outside the classroom,” explains Harry Trantham, an English for Academic Communication faculty member who has been with the school since 2016.
“Of course, you can build a foundation, but what’s really wonderful about our programme is that we have the backdrop of the mountains and the opportunity to do these excursions, which is really getting our students comfortable once again with being uncomfortable and taking what they’re learning in the classroom and putting it into actual experiences.”
The ESL and Art Summer Programme is really a microcosm of the experience shared by full-time Academy students, and can be a great gateway into the Academy programme. Whether it is during the summer or during the Academy year, Idyllwild Arts teachers foster a sense of trust and mutual respect between themselves and their students through their dedication and sensitivity. In this, they create a truly enriching and transformative journey for all who attend.
“The teachers here routinely interact with you, to learn about, understand, and care for you. This Academy has allowed me to learn and discover things I would’ve never experienced otherwise,” confirms Grade 12 theatre major Zihan.
Zihan’s favourite part of the Idyllwild Arts experience is the many collaborations with students from various disciplines. For example, she and her classmates recently worked on a play alongside the school’s music majors. “This allowed us to diversify our experience,” she says.
Perhaps what most students are most grateful for is how their teachers here often end up as their lifelong friends, collaborators, or mentors. Grade 9 dance major Jiachen from China remembers her first moments at the school like it was just yesterday. When she first arrived, the darkness of the roads at night and the possibility of encountering wild animals scared her a little. After acclimating to the environment and getting to know her boarding dorm “parents,” she realised that the school was indeed a secure place to be.
“The campus provides a sense of security,” she says. “In a dorm, there are a lot of dorm parents who care for the students to ensure we all have a safe living environment. I really hope everyone will get the chance to have this learning experience, especially because this is an excellent school.”
The next ESL and Art Intensive Summer Programme kicks off on July 19, 2023. So what are you waiting for? Click here to sign your child up and make their summer one to remember.
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