Fine Arts

Fine Arts in Schenectady

The Schenectady City School District is proud of its award-winning comprehensive district-wide Fine Arts program. 

Award-Winning Program

Student Playing the FluteThe Board of Education earned state recognition from the New York State Alliance for Arts and Education and the New York State School Board Association in 2007 and a national award from Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education in March 2008.

Schenectady High School's John Sayles School of Fine Arts (SSFA) was selected as one of five schools in the country - the only school in New York State - to receive the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education Award for their work during the 2007-2008 school year.  The award honored Schenectady High School for making the arts an essential part of the students’ education. 

Schenectady High School was also presented with the GRAMMY Signature Schools Community Award in 2015-16 and was named as a NAMM Best Communities for Music Education in 2015-16 and 2014-15.

Extraordinary Fine Arts Opportunities

Art Class at SHSThe Schenectady City School District offers an array of extraordinary Fine Arts opportunities and programs for the students in the district. All students have the opportunity and are strongly encouraged to participate in the arts. 

Students in Grades K - Grade 5 enjoy instructional art classes once a week and music classes twice a week, all taught by certified teachers.  The district values the Fine Arts as part of the core academic program for the district's youngest children and provides programming that exceeds state mandates. 

Elementary artwork is displayed throughout the school year.  Work is on exhibit through the SCSD Traveling Art show, an annual BOCES art show, the SCSD Annual Mall Show at Rotterdam Mall, various other regional shows and competitions, and exhibits in many of the schools and administrative offices and entranceways.

Learning to Play an Instrument

Photo of student playing instrument in bandAll students, beginning in fourth grade, have an opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument including string instruments. 

The Schenectady City School District puts great effort into obtaining and maintaining instruments for beginner students.  Instruments can be rented for $35 per year and the district also offers assistance to those students who are suffering from financial hardship.  Those who have difficulty pay the annual fee can apply for a waiver.

Students in Grades 6 - 8  enjoy grade level music and art.  All three of the district middle schools offer band, orchestra, choir and other extra-curricular Fine Arts options. These include art clubs, dance clubs including ballroom dancing, drama, guitar club, writing clubs and more.

Each Schenectady middle school includes a piano keyboard lab.

Students at every grade level participate in school-wide and community performances.  Each of the schools from elementary through high school host at least two concerts annually. Schenectady High School holds at least four major concerts each year.

Performance groups are active in the community including senior centers, nursing homes, for younger students and at community events.  Students also perform in a number community based productions and performances including Oneida Jazz Festival, Melodies of Christmas, NYSSMA Festivals, Schenectady County Music Association festivals, Suburban Council festivals, joint performances with local community-based choral groups and more.


Dance Class at SHSThe Schenectady City School District collaborates with many cultural institutions and community arts programs for residencies, field trips, professional development programs and more.

The John Sayles School of Fine Arts is housed in a 42,000 square foot wing of Schenectady High School.

Since its debut in 1998, the Sayles School of Fine Arts Blue Roses Theatre Company has performed more than 40 shows in its impressive 250-seat Black Box Theatre. 

The Sayles School of Fine Arts is one of the few schools statewide to offer dance.  Students study jazz, tap, ballet and Hip-Hop.  Dance Connection is the school's performance troupe.

SSFA has two jazz bands and a full band and orchestra along with four select choirs.

The visual arts curriculum offers a range of courses from Studio in Art to AP Drawing.  The Henry and Miriam Butzel Gallery located in the Sayles wing showcase student and community artwork during throughout the year.


Click here to go to the Fine Arts calendar.

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