With the 2013-‘14 school year winding down, I’ve been getting a number of questions about which Orange County high schools have reputable arts programs. To help answer this question, I’ve compiled a list of some of the top performing arts programs in Orange County high schools. If you don’t see your high school on here, please rest assured that this list is in no way meant to be exhaustive, nor are the listed schools ranked from best to worst or worst to best.
I’m dividing this topic into two entries, so only the first half of the schools will be featured in this post.
1. Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA)
The prestigious Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana has become a hub for aspiring performers. Boasting an impressive list of alumni, including Matthew Morrison, from ABC’s Glee and Susan Egan, the original Belle in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast, OCSA has a wide variety of departments you can audition for, ranging from classical voice, to film and television, to ballroom dance. Once only a high school, OCSA now takes 7th and 8th graders as well. Admission to OCSA is by audition only and gets more competitive with each passing year. Check out our OCSA audition prep page here.
2. Huntington Beach Academy For the Performing Arts (APA)
APA is unusual in that it’s an arts program that spans the whole Huntington Beach Unified High School district. If you attend any high school in the district, you may audition for APA. The departments include Dance, Commercial Recording, Orchestral Music, Musical Theatre, Theatre, Technical Theatre, and Media Arts.
3. Dana Hills High School
Dana Hills High is the home of South Orange County School of Arts (SOCSA). SOCSA has departments in Dance, Instrumental Music, Theater Arts, Visual Arts, and Vocal Music. Like OCSA and APA, SOCSA accepts students by audition only.
4. Corona Del Mar High (CdM)
CdM houses PAMA, the Performing Arts and Multi-Media Academy. PAMA is a small rigorous learning community within CdM that offers a specific curriculum geared toward the arts. Toward the end of the school year, CdM holds the Pammys (a takeoff on Grammys)—an arts showcase and awards night. Admission to PAMA is by audition only.
5. Fullerton Union High School (FUHS)
Fullerton High is the home of the Academy of the Arts. Like PAMA, it’s an accelerated arts curriculum, but unlike PAMA, it’s open to all Fullerton high school students (although entrance into individual performances is by audition only). Fullerton’s students have been frequent recipients of the MACY Award—the award dedicated to recognizing achievements in high school musical theater.