This website describes the present courses, requirements, programs and services of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, which are subject to change at any time according to state requirements and the policies and procedures of the school.
(Reviewed and updated 10-2010)
The Alabama School of Fine Arts is a partially residential public school authorized and funded by the Alabama Legislature to provide tuition-free instruction to impassioned students, grades 7-12. The school provides focused specialty instruction in Creative Writing, Dance, Mathematics and Science, Music, Theatre Arts and Visual Arts, plus core academic courses necessary to earn an Alabama high school diploma. The school operates under its own enabling legislation, policies and procedures, guided by a state-appointed Board of Trustees, under whom serves a staff of more than 100 full- and part-time administrators, teachers and support workers.
History. The school began with a group of Birmingham arts community leaders, who acquired discretionary funding from Governor Lurleen Wallace in 1967 to support after-school instructional programs based in community arts agencies.
In 1971, the Legislature approved a resolution formally establishing the school. In 1974, after a year at Samford University, the school moved to Birmingham-Southern College, where it consolidated five arts programs and a core academic program, staffed in part by the Birmingham Public Schools. In 1977, the school moved to its own temporary campus in downtown Birmingham, with help of its own private, non-profit support foundation, which also raised private funding to build an all-new campus complex.
In 1992, the Legislature approved a new law providing more specific authorization for the school. The next year, the school moved into its new $10 million facility at the heart of Birmingham’s Cultural District. Campus improvements continued with the addition of a theater (1995), the Russell Mathematics and Science Center wing (1996), and creative writing wing (1999). The Russell Mathematics and Science Center houses the school’s sixth specialty program, established in 1990 with a major donation from the Russell Corporation.
Admission - Students enter the Alabama School of Fine Arts through audition in one of six specialty programs. Audition requirements vary by department, but in each case include review of the student’s school record and standardized test scores, at least one interview and some form of performance, presentation or test related to the student’s intended specialty.
Costs - Alabama students pay a small semester matriculation fee, but no tuition. Students from outside Alabama pay tuition, which the school sets annually. Residential students pay room and board costs, set annually.
Special Programs and Services - In addition to its regular instructional programs,
- the Dance department offers the ASFA Preparatory Ballet Academy and the ASFA Community Ballet Program for dancers ages 3-15 after school
- specialty departments offer summer arts camps for young students;
- the school’s specialty departments provide numerous performances and lecture demonstrations in schools and other public and private settings throughout the state, and
- the school lends classroom, performance and meeting space to an array of arts and civic organizations engaged in worthy community activities.
The Alabama School of Fine Arts nurtures student success with an array of services and cooperative efforts to promote student learning, foresight, discipline and physical and emotional health. Among these are the following:
IRC - Information Resource Center - The school provides access to books, periodicals and technology during the school day and early evening.
Counseling - Counselors meet regularly with individuals and groups on matters of academic and personal interest.
College advising - A College Advisor meets individually with upperclassmen to help plan higher education opportunities and strategies.
Discipline - The school emphasizes personal responsibility and improvement rather than punishment. However, a code of conduct administered by the school’s Student Life Advisor specifies penalties as necessary (See Student Handbook).
Health & Wellness - The school employs a comprehensive program to address the physical, emotional, and academic needs of the students. The Health & Wellness Coordinator is supported by a fulltime school nurse, faculty and counselors.
Departmental support groups - Volunteer parent support organizations work with faculty in each of the arts and math/science specialty programs.
The typical stuudent day at the Alabama School of Fine Arts is in fact two days in one. Each student benefits from at least three hours of instruction in a chosen specialty—Creative Writing, Dance, Mathematics and Science, Music, Theatre Arts or Visual Arts—while completing core academic courses as required to earn a state of Alabama high school diploma. To remain in good standing, students maintain an “80” average in specialty course work, and a “65” average in core academic studies, and a combined specialty/academic average of “77.5.” (see Student Handbook for details).
Ordinarily, students shall be enrolled in the school at least throughout the junior and senior years to satisfy minimum instructional requirements for graduation.
Among the many learning resources serving students are a caring faculty, a campus designed and expanding to meet specialty department needs, advanced information technology and the school’s location in downtown Birmingham with easy access to the Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham Art Museum, McWane Science Center and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.