Central Visual and Performing Arts High School

Central Visual and Performing Arts High School Logo

Basic Information

Address: 3125 S. Kingshighway St Louis, MO
County: Saint Louis
District: Saint Louis Public Schools
Phone Number: 314.771.2772
Fax Number: 314.771.0135
Principal: Dr. Amy Phillips

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Additional Information

School Type: Magnet
Accreditation: NCA Accreditation
Grade Level: 9-12
Founded: 1987
School Days in Calendar Year: 175
School Colors: Black, Gold and White
School Mascot: Eagles
School Size: 400
Classroom Size: 15
Classroom Teachers: 60
Student/Teacher Ratio: 6 to 1
Camp Programs: No
After School Programs: Yes
Summer School: Yes
PTA Organization: Yes
Computer Capabilities:

4 Computer Labs

School Championships:

No sports offered

School Clubs:

Student Government
Mock Trial
World Quest
Cultural Leadership
Go St. Louis Marathon
Orchestrating Diversity
Volunteer Club

Lunch Availability: Closed Campus
Parking Spaces/Availability:

Street Parking only

Uniform Guidelines:

No Uniforms

Mission Statement:

Central Visual and Performing Arts High School creates an environment where students receive an exemplary academic and artistic education that showcases their talents and prepares them to meet the challenges of our dynamic global society.

Philosophy/Belief Statement:

Central Visual and Performing Arts High School (CVPA) of the Saint Louis Public School District evolved in 1984 from a realization that gifted young artists need highly specialized and rigorous training in the arts to be prepared for the intense competition they will meet in colleges, conservatories, and the professional arts world. The creation of CVPA represented the district’s attempt to correlate an academic program with concentrated training in the arts.
CVPA is fully accredited and offers the same academic curriculum and graduation requirements as all SLPS high schools; the major difference in the academic program is that we offer the added ingredient of correlating the arts with academics, rather than treating either as isolated disciplines. All students spend three hours per day in their art areas, and the remainder of the time in academics or electives. The arts offered for in-depth study are: Dance, Instrumental and Vocal Music, Theatre Arts, and Visual Arts.
In addition, CVPA is committed to its role as a college preparatory school, making students aware of the variety of opportunities they have for future training at colleges or universities, advanced art institutes, and conservatories.
The school recognizes and values student individuality. It nurtures, without exception, the values of individual accomplishment and independence. Since individual creativity is integral to the production of art, our faculty and staff work with students on an individualized, human level that stimulates intellectual, artistic, and technical originality. We strive to graduate people who can work independently and creatively.
At the same time, CVPA places high value on group responsibility, loyalty, and sense of community. In a country that is sustained by a democratic process, a sense of individual worth, coupled with a sense of responsibility to a society, is invaluable. It is to these ends that CVPA devotes its energies.
Students will view each major through the lens of four components: aesthetic perspectives, creative expression, culture and history, and analysis and criticism. While students will select one major on which to focus, they will be encouraged to explore more than one area of the arts. All majors emphasize performance and exhibition.
The instrumental music program focuses on developing a student’s understanding of music concepts that serve as the foundation for future development of aesthetic judgment. Students apply knowledge and understanding of the elements of style, form, and cultural heritage to listen to, perform, create, and defend their musical choices.
In the vocal music program, the student’s understanding of musical concepts is developed. Students focus on their own special interests and compare and contrast social, ethnic, and cultural influences on music. As students learn about the individuals who contributed to the area and time period of music studied, they form personal choices of musical performances from all historic periods. In both musical strands, students explore career possibilities in music education, music composition, the music business, and music therapy.
The visual arts program provides consistent instructional opportunities for students to examine a wide range of forms that are natural and man-made and to create art work using the elements and principles of design. Students’ interests in individual artists and their art forms are encouraged, and they study careers in graphic design, commercial art, art history, preservation of art, and art education.
Students taking classes in the dance program develop an awareness of the body as an instrument of expression. They refine their skills in dance technique and choreography and increase their ability to move creatively and spontaneously. Exposure to great works of art allows students to analyze the special characteristics of noted performers, choreographers, critics, and impresarios, as well as understand how these individuals have shaped the history of dance.
In the theater program, students learn to create, perform, analyze, and critique dramatic performances. Class work becomes formalized with the students participating in theatre, television, and electronic media productions. As careers and performers are studied, students develop a broad worldview.

Enrollment Characteristics: The goals of the audition requirements are focused on creating an environment that fosters high achievement in the arts. Central Visual and Performing Arts High School seeks to make the following advancements: • Admit only students with a genuine interest in visual or performing arts. • Attract talented students who have a high potential for artistic development. • Attract a higher proportion of students whose level of preparation allows development to higher levels. • Draw students from a wider geographic area. • Increase overall enrollment – having explicit standards of admission gives the public greater assurance that the institution is committed to the artistic development of its students beyond what is possible in a standard environment. This will attract greater numbers of students and will attract students from a broader geographic area because CVPA will have taken steps toward establishing itself a unique, high-quality environment. Selectivity creates demand. To achieve these goals, specific requirements need to be established. • Student must submit a copy of previous year’s report card. Student must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5. • Student must submit a copy of previous year’s attendance. Based on 174 days of school, student must have an attendance rate of at least 90%. • Student must submit a copy of previous years discipline profile. Student must be in good citizenship standing (No out of school suspensions). • Student must submit at least two letters of recommendation. Two personal recommendation letters should come from (1) an administrator and (2) an arts teacher. • Once all required documents are received, audition dates and times will be scheduled. Students who are granted auditions must attend at the scheduled date and time prepared to audition and personally interview with the administrative staff. • Because our programs sequence through 4 years, Central accepts 9th and 10th grade applicants only. • All accepted students are expected to attend Central’s 9th grade transition program, parent orientation, preregister and be present on the first day.
School History:

Central High School opened in 1853 as a room in Benton School (located on 6th St., between Locust and St. Charles) becoming the first co-ed public high school in St. Louis. In 1856, the high school moved into a new building at 15th and Olive, where it remained until 1893 when it relocated to a new, larger building at Grand and Finney. During this time, the high school offered college preparatory and general education curricula, surprisingly similar to the current required course work.

The High School grew and prospered, becoming known as Central High School when additional high schools were built in the city.


In September 1927, after a terrible tornado struck St. Louis and severely damaged Central's building, the school moved into the Yeatman High School building on Garrison Avenue. There, Central continued, despite the hardships of the Great Depression and World War II.

To celebrate Central's one hundredth year and the gains made in education in St. Louis, a massive outdoor pageant was presented at the old Public School Stadium in 1953. The 1950s witnessed another significant milestone with the integration of the District as well as Central High School.

In response to population shifts from the city of St. Louis to St. Louis County, the school district developed the magnet school concept that led to the creation, in 1976, of the Visual & Performing Arts High School on one floor of the O'Fallon Tech building. The Visual & Performing Arts High School was later housed in the Humboldt School building where students from all parts of the city and county were drawn together by their interests in the arts and the wide variety of cultural experiences offered to them.

In 1984, Central High School merged with Visual and Performing Arts High School and became Central Visual and Performing Arts High School.

Except for a one-year relocation to the McKinley High School building during renovations, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School remained at its Garrison Avenue location until the summer of 2004 when it relocated once again; this time to the corner of Kingshighway and Arsenal where it brings new life to the old Southwest High School building.


Throughout her proud history, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School has served a continuous stream of St. Louis youth, helping to prepare them for their various loves and careers.

Notable Graduates:

Al Caldwell-1978- Clinician, Perfomer,Engineer, Producer. Credits include playing with Vanessa Williams, Luther Vandrose, Brian McKnight, etc.
Kem Williams–1981- St. Louis Violinist. Graduate of Julliard School of Music, Founder & Former Director of the Cameron Youth Orchestra.
Tamara Tungate-1983- Actress, Miss Missouri 1986
Richard Fortus-1984 –Professional Guitarist. Credits include: Rihanna, Guns N' Roses, Ozzy Osborne, Britany Spears, N Sync, Puff Daddy, Guitar Hero, etc.
Antonio Douthit-1999- Professional Dancer with the Alvin Alley Dance Co. in New York
Dr. Jerry Hodges - Former Musical Director and presently Pastor of the Historical Truelight Bapt. Church, Jazz Musician
Levi Too King-1994- Musical arranger and Recording Producer
Cedrick Shannon Rives–1996- Professional Gospel Singer and Recording Artist
Oscar Williams–1998- Former Music Director for Bishop T.D. Jakes, Music Director of a worldwide touring company, Composer & National Recording Artist, Composer, Producer and Clinician. Released debut album Titled “Unstoppable”. Album spent time on the Top 40 Gospel Billboard Charts.
Hettie Barnhill-2002- Professional Choreographer and Dancer on Broadway. Starred in Broadway production of “Fela!”. Grammy nominated, 2011 NAACP honoree, 2011 President Obama honoree. Performed on NBC, MTV, VH1, BET, etc.
Chaz Ali Williams–2007- Opera Singer, American Idol Contestant
Trevon Griffith–2011- Recording Artist

Notes/School Information:

Central Visual and Performing Arts High School is dedicated to improving the academic and artistic achievement levels of all of its students. Therefore, we have created an environment where students will receive a quality academic and artistic education that will prepare them to compete successfully at the college level or perform competitively in the job market after graduation.
Many of the students are involved in Instructional Support Programs and community activities that enhance his/her area of major study, such as:

  • St. Louis Art Museum

  • Black Repertory Theater

  • Opera Theater of Saint Louis

  • Sheldon Theater

  • The Repertory Theater

  • Fox Theater

  • American Red Cross

  • St. Louis Symphony

  • Webster University

  • Washington University

  • University of Missouri - St. Louis

  • Southeast Missouri State University

We not only enhance the talents of gifted students in the artistic subjects; we help students find themselves and develop into well-rounded individuals. We believe all students have a gift and we need to help each individual student discover and develop that hidden talent.
Professionals in the artistic fields visit and conduct seminars and performances regularly. Most guests involve Central Visual and Performing Arts High School students in their seminars and workshops. Parents are encouraged to participate in school activities and help their child succeed. our students are constantly requested to perform for community groups, St. Louis Public Schools and other school districts throughout the country.

In addition to the artistic programs, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School has a strong academic program to complete the artistic offerings preparing students for the college of their choice. Foreign languages, dual enrollment and advance placement courses strengthen the academic offerings.