San Francisco High School of the Arts

Academics at High School of the Arts

San Francisco High School of the Arts offers a rigorous academic program for middle school and high school students from grades 6 to 12. The curriculum focuses on application of knowledge gained from solid theoretical understanding. We have a great team of teachers with strong and diversified backgrounds, who are dedicated to inspiring and supporting students in all their endeavors.

In addition to training in traditional arts, we provide students with a rigorous, college-preparatory program that includes academic coursework, advising, counseling, and standardized test prep.

Our academic program emphasizes five areas of study: English, Social Studies, Math, Sciences, and Chinese. Small class sizes facilitate a seminar-style engagement in the humanities, while independent study is available in all major subjects.

A Supportive Environment

Our supportive and family-like environment motivates students to learn. In addition, our small average class size allows students to receive individualized attention. Through hard work, dedication, and the help of caring instructors and peers, our students grow to become responsible young adults.

A Bilingual Program

The San Francisco High School of the Arts strongly promotes bilingual development in English and Mandarin Chinese, two of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Our Chinese Language & Culture program is literature-based, and takes students from entry-level Chinese, all the way up to being able to interpret advanced classical texts and poetry. Through successful development of oral fluency and literacy in Chinese, 90% of our students pass the AP Chinese Exam before graduation.

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Improved Academia via Traditional Arts

Research has proven that training in traditional arts not only facilitates character building in young adults, but also improves their capabilities in academic learning. Through mastering the arts, our students become more focused and self-disciplined, and naturally develop good study habits that enhance their academic efficiency.

“The school was the perfect fit for my two children as I strongly believe in the values of building good character.” 

— Parent

High School Academics

Our high school curriculum is approved by the University of California’s A-G program. In addition, we provide students with access to intellectually challenging coursework via 12 recognized Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

All courses offered in the major disciplines meet or exceed California’s state standards and prepare students for studies at highly selective colleges. We also offer AP and Honors courses in English, Social Studies, Math, the Sciences and Chinese.

College Acceptance

100% of High School of the Arts graduates have consistently been accepted into each of their top-choice colleges and universities. Their applications for fine arts colleges, in the US and abroad, have never been turned down. Our alumni have been accepted into many renowned colleges and universities such as:

Parsons School of Design • Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) • Pratt Institute • School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) • ArtCenter College of Design • Maryland Institute College of Arts (MICA) • UC Berkeley • UCLA • University of Michigan in Ann Arbor • UC Santa Barbara • UC Irvine • UC Davis • New York University • UC San Diego • University of British Columbia • Purdue University • Rutgers University • American University • George Washington University

AP Exam Scores

Our students have consistently scored above the state and international mean on AP exams:

High School Graduation Requirements

As an arts institution of high caliber, San Francisco High School of the Arts offers rigorous pre-professional training programs in the arts alongside strong academic classes. Our graduation requirements meet and exceed admission guidelines for UC / CSU, and are aligned with California Department of Education’s state standards. By expanding upon the University of California’s A-G requirements, we prepare students for study at highly selective colleges.

Standardized Tests

  • Students are encouraged to take the ACT and the SAT for college admission.
  • Aside from minimum academic requirements, students have the option of taking Advanced Placement (AP) and/or honors-level courses, depending on their postsecondary aspirations.
  • Students participate in annual standardized testing in grades 6 through 10.

Community Engagement

Aside from standard academics, we also require students to contribute to the local community by completing a minimum of 20 volunteer hours per year.

Credit Requirements

To earn a diploma at High School of the Arts, a student must complete a minimum of 21 credits, distributed across the curriculum. Below is an outline of the minimum recommended credit requirements, where each credit denotes a year-long course:

Subject Minimum Credits Recommended Credits
English
4
4
Mathematics
3
4
Social Studies
3
4
Lab Sciences
2
3
Chinese
2
3
Arts
4
6
Electives
1
1
Physical Education
2
2

Total Credits

21
27

(For details, consult your academic advisor.)

Meet our College Counselor

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Dr. Kris Kim

College Counselor
Dr. Kim, has studied at some of the world’s leading institutions. With a Masters in Education from Stanford University, and Ph.D in School Finance from UCLA, Dr. Kim is an active member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), as well as the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). She has extensive experience counseling thousands of high school students over ten years. Her passion for guiding students and her academic emphasis on improving school performances have given Dr. Kim a unique vantage point to approach the path to college and beyond. As a former OVAL member at Stanford Admission representing Stanford for prospective students, Kris has an unprecedented knowledge of what it takes for students to be successful in their college journey.

College Counseling for High School

The College Counseling Program is designed to help each student gain deeper self-awareness of their individual strengths and weaknesses, and identify the career path and college choice that is right for them. From freshman through senior year, school counselors will closely guide each student in preparation for college and the application process. In addition to accruing expert advice on building résumés and artistic portfolios, students will gain valuable experiences participating in performances and extracurricular activities, giving them a unique edge in competitive interviews and auditions.

Upon entering 9th grade, each student customizes his or her individual four-year graduation plan with the school’s college counselor. The plan typically incorporates the four-year course and credit completion schedule, an outline of extracurricular activities, advice on participation in summer programs based on individual interest, standardized test selection, as well as college application guidance. The plan is revisited on a regular basis throughout the student’s high school career, in order to ensure the student is on track to successfully accomplishing his or her highest academic goals.

Every year, High School of the Arts organizes field trips for high school students that include visits to well-known universities in the region such as U.C. Berkeley and Stanford University. Students will get a firsthand look of the college environment and learn how to create successful college applications through the mentorship of university admissions personnel.

“SF High School of the Arts is AMAZING. The teacher and staff dedication is beyond par. They really do care about the children as a whole and take action when needed. Most schools our children have been to “talk about” their values a lot. SF High School of the Arts does. And it makes a world of difference. Highly recommend.” 

–8th grade parent

  • Meet Our Academic Faculty
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Ms. Cornelia Ritter

Math Teacher
Ms. Ritter obtained a Masters degree in Physics from the University of Bern, with a minor in mathematics. In 1997, she received her teaching credentials for secondary schools in mathematics and physics. She has more than 20 years of teaching experience.
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Mr. Lee Randazzo, M.A.

English & History Teacher
Mr. Randazzo has an M.A. in ESL teaching for all ages and is certified in general education elementary school teaching (for all subjects, K-6). He is a licensed teacher with over 20 years of teaching experience in public and private schools.
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Ms. Christina Simpson

English Teacher
Ms. Simpson earned a B.A. in History from UC Berkeley. Her classroom experience includes teaching English, History, and Music at the School of the Madeleine in Berkeley and the Educational Enrichment Center in Pleasanton as well as coaching chamber music at the College of Marin.

Ms. Jennifer Zhang

Science Teacher
Ms. Zhang graduated with a B.A. in Education and B.Sc. in Biology. Her specialist teaching areas include Biology and Computing. She has more than ten years of experience teaching math, computing, and the sciences.
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Mr. Qining Cai

Chinese Teacher
Mr. Cai was a professor of Chinese in China before coming to High School of the Arts. He has taught Chinese language for thirty five years. He also taught media production and also has extensive knowledge in Chinese literature and culture.
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Ms. Emily Csikszentmihalyi

English Teacher
Ms. Csikszentmihalyi received her B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University. In addition to teaching English, she brings her writing and editing skills to the school’s publications division and tutors the elementary school students in the afterschool program.
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Ms. Min Zang

Chinese Teacher
Ms. Min Zang graduated from the Department of Chinese Teachers College and has many years of teaching experience. She currently teaches Chinese at the San Francisco High School of the Arts.
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Mr. Ray Chen

Science Teacher
Mr. Ray Chen received his Master of Science degree from Purdue University. He brings decades of work experience from global enterprises like Apple and Oracle, as well as years of experience from teaching previously at High School of the Arts and at other private schools.

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