A guide to ETHS Fine Arts classes


Illustration by Kupu Sumi

The arts give people a place to express themselves, use their creativity and form connections. With about fifty fine arts classes, ETHS offers an array of options for students to get involved, ranging from the performing arts to music as well as the visual arts. However, with the large number of options presented, it can be overwhelming when trying to decide how to become involved. We’ve outlined some fantastic arts classes to join and what to expect from them by asking students about their experiences.


Whether you’re a composer, a seasoned musician looking to refine your craft or are simply interested in music, you may want to consider picking an elective like Music Technology: Recording & Composition I. This one-semester elective explores music production, composition, music notation, editing and basic music theory. The best part? No prerequisite classes required.

“It was a project-based class, so we learned a lot about music form in the beginning. Then, we took that knowledge, and we put it into projects; we had six total projects,” junior Jada Pascasio recalls, “There was a melody project, where you had to come up with a melody that followed a certain form. There was a project where you can make an ad with music in the back, but I think my favorite was at the end where you got to just freestyle and do whatever you wanted because you could … be as creative as you wanted.”

In addition to the melody, ad and freestyle projects, there was a loop project, an ‘Inspired by’ project and a musician research project. All six projects allowed students to learn how to use a digital audio workspace (DAW), which is software used by producers for editing and recording music. The projects allowed students to express themselves while also having them learn how to navigate a DAW through hands-on learning. 

“It’s cool because you look at music in a different way when you come out of the class,” Pascasio says.

If you already know how to play an instrument, and you’re looking for a way to practice and improve with others, then you may want to check out Marching Band. 

“If you’re interested in Marching Band, definitely do it,” sophomore wind symphony and marching band member Grace Rich says. “I joined marching band because I heard the community was really cool.” 

Rich says if you already know how to play an instrument but want to be able to practice with others, then joining Marching Band is a great idea. “You learn how to practice with other people, because playing by yourself can be kind of lonely sometimes. It’s so much more fun to play with other people.” 

Other than the community that the marching band offers, you get to perform at the football games. 

“The football games are so fun; you could join just for the football games,” Rich says.

Wind Symphony is something to work towards. And while there’s a lot of pressure involved, Rich says it’s one way that she pushes herself to be better.

Other than a fun experience, Rich mentions that being able to play your instrument well is a great opportunity for college scholarships. 

“You can get really nice scholarships for college from band. You have to be good, but you [can] get scholarships.” 

Whether you want to be working with music digitally in a studio or physically at the football games, music is for everyone to try and experience. 

Rich adds, “I think music is part of being human, and I think learning to play music—it’s fun, but also it feels good.”


Using your imagination to develop characters, communicating effectively using body language and having self-confidence capture the essence of theater. If you’re an aspiring actor, a theater nerd or someone looking to overcome their fear of public speaking, you should consider a theater class. 

Sophomore Eliana Sklar decided to take Theater I her Freshman year to build on her acting skills. Sklar found she enjoyed the variety in the content covered, especially the sillier projects, but she also grew from the serious ones.

For the final project, students in Theater I were asked to do a scene study, which was a more serious assignment. 

“The last thing that we did, which was the most challenging, was a scene study. We had a partner, and we got a script from a show and performed five to ten minutes of it,” she recalls. “I’m definitely not a dramatic or serious actor, so that was very fun to play. I learned a lot from it.”

In addition to Theater I, ETHS has three theater electives that cover a variety of different acting styles. Sophomore Sasha Van Den Berg has taken both Theater I and Theater II. 

“In Theater II, you cover everything from different playwrights to different acting styles. We covered realism, absurdism, comedy and Shakespeare,” Van Den Berg says.

Van Den Berg emphasizes the value of each theater class and why she urges people who may be new to theater or have no experience to take it:

“In Theater II, I got a better understanding of the different art forms in acting alone. I got to use those techniques to improve myself, and I definitely think I improved,” says Van Den Berg. “I think it’s important to get involved in theater because it builds confidence. It allows you to get out of your comfort zone with really fun people around you.”


Whether you have been drawing for ages or have never picked up a paintbrush, there is a  visual arts elective for you. 

Grace Olsen, a sophomore who has taken Graphic Design I, has been drawing since she was three but mentions that the class doesn’t require experience in any capacity other than your creativity. 

“Everybody can draw; everybody can do art or can be taught,” she says. “Everyone can do anything in the art field.”

Olsen mentioned her favorite parts about Graphic Design I were doing sketchbook assignments. Every Monday, students were assigned different prompts such as designing a logo, album cover design, or soda can design. 

“I decided to make a Japanese soda bottle [one] week, and it was very, very fun making my own label and design,” Olsen says.

Graphic Design I goes over basic design skills such as spacing, color, hierarchy and being able to use programs such as Adobe Illustrator. 

While taking fine arts classes, Olsen learned that everything can be art, and it’s simply about how you approach it. 

“It can be the silverware in your kitchen or a sticker you see.”

Olsen has also taken Photography I and recalls feeling welcomed into the art wing and community. 

“The teachers were super nice and super friendly,” she says. “They welcomed me into the art wing of the school even though we weren’t in class.” 

Photography I gets students outside and looking at the world through the lens of a camera. The class focuses on composition, photo arrangement, camera skills and photo editing.

 During photography, Olsen said she used the class as an opportunity to get outside in nature and look at everyday objects from a new perspective. Olsen emphasized the difference between technical skills and creativity, pointing out that experience isn’t necessary. Even if you don’t have the same toolkit as someone who has been drawing, painting and practicing photography for years, everyone still has equal amounts of creativity. ETHS doesn’t discriminate based on skill level; all you need to bring to any fine arts class is an interest in that art, creativity and passion to improve.

“I think that everyone should at least try fine arts one year because you might have a certain talent that you don’t know about,” Olsen states. “This can be something that you would enjoy in the future.”

While it can be daunting to try something you haven’t done before, as long as you’re willing to bring creativity, you have everything you need to join any fine arts class. Most of the electives offered have an intro class, so even if you’re new or have no experience with the arts, curiosity and the willingness to learn are all that is needed. Fine arts is an excellent opportunity to form friendships by joining a community of people passionate about creating. Immerse yourself in any fine arts clubs that pique your interest, for it will turn out to be a rewarding experience.