Skip to main content

The Fine Arts Department offers courses to students interested in visual art, music or drama. The variety of course offerings is intended to provide opportunities for students at all levels of experience in the arts.

Visual Arts

Beginning classes are designed to serve a broad range of abilities and interests. Intermediate and advanced classes are more specialized and demand higher performance levels.  

INTRO TO ART: Grade 9-12, Semester=1 CR, No Prerequisite

  • Offered as a beginning or exploratory art class for incoming 9th grade students or a first time art experience for all high school students.  This course will focus on a variety of two and three dimensional art projects that stress the art fundamentals including the elements of art and principles of design and composition.  Processes will include compositions with a variety of drawing and shading materials, painting with water-based painting media, limited ceramic design and related studies of historical art periods and styles.  #7000

DRAWING/PAINTING: Grade 9-12, Semester=1 CR, Prerequisite=Intro to Art
Note:  Each course builds upon proficiencies mastered in the previous course, earning a grade of “C” or better in Intro to Art is preferred in order to advance to the next level.

  • Designed as an extension of the exploratory course Intro to Art.  Emphasis will be on a more in-depth experience with two dimensional art materials and compositions that reflect understanding of the art elements and increased technical skills.  Projects will include opportunities to use a variety of drawing materials, water and acrylic based painting, and printmaking.  #7001

SCULPTURE/CERAMICS: Grade 9-12, Semester=1 CR, Prerequisite=Intro to Art
Note:  Each course builds upon proficiencies mastered in the previous course, earning a grade of “C” or better in Intro to Art is preferred in order to advance to the next level. 

  • Sculpture/Ceramics is a course for art students who desire a teacher directed extension of the technical skills explored in Intro to Art.  This class will be an extensive investigation of three-dimensional materials such as plaster, wire sculpture, ceramics and wood using additive and subtractive techniques.  #7010

ADVANCED ART 2-D:  Grade 11-12, Semester 1 = 1 CR, Prerequisite: Intro to Art, and Drawing/ Painting

  • An advanced level course in drawing and painting with an emphasis on developing a greater depth of understanding of art and application of the Elements of Art and Principles of Design to their work in a variety of media.  Studio experiences include drawing, painting, illustration, and printmaking projects.  Students are expected to become independent thinkers and to apply their prior knowledge to their work.  They will submit their projects within a portfolio that will include 8 to 10 pieces. #7004

ADVANCED ART 3-D:  Grade 11-12, Semester 2 = 1 CR, Prerequisite: Intro to Art,  Drawing / Painting, Sculpture/ Ceramics, and Advanced Art 2-D  

  • An Advanced level course focused on three dimensional projects.  3-D Design students are expected to become independent thinkers and to apply their knowledge of the elements and principles to their work in a variety of media (clay, wire, paper mache, found objects...) in order to demonstrate mastery of three- dimensional design skills and concepts.  They will submit a portfolio that includes 8 to 10 pieces throughout the semester. #7005

*AP ART HISTORY: Grade 10-12, Year =2 CR, Prerequisite: Intro to Art 
Note:  The Advanced Placement program provides willing and academically prepared high school students with the opportunity to study and learn at the college level.  AP courses are taught at the college level incorporating both college level reading and writing.  The College Board does not deny any student from taking an AP course; however, students should be academically prepared.  OHS strongly recommends that students who wish to enroll in an AP course have a cumulative GPA of 3.0.

  • The AP Art History course is equivalent to an introductory college-level course in art history.  It is designed to give students the opportunity to discover, appreciate, and acquire knowledge of art history through the ages, from the Paleolithic era to contemporary times.  The students will learn to examine and critically analyze major forms of artistic expression from diverse cultures and understand their contributions to the arts.  A variety of art media and styles will be studied as the students look at architecture, manuscripts, painting, drawing, printmaking, and sculpture, as a reflection of a given civilization and time period.  This class will give students the opportunity to use their prior knowledge of history, geography, politics, religion, languages, literature, and the visual arts.  #7008, 70082

*AP STUDIO ART: Grade 10-12, Year = 2 CR, Prerequisite: Intro to Art 

  • AP Studio Art students are asked to improve their skills as researchers, experimenters, and college-level artists. The AP Studio Art class is intended for highly motivated Junior and Senior students who are seriously interested in the study of art and design. The AP Studio Art Program consists of three different courses of studies. AP students will work towards submitting a portfolio exam for just one. The three courses of study are 2-D Design, Drawing, and 3-D Design. The submitted portfolio, if qualified, can earn the student college credit and/or advanced placement in college. #0000

Once enrolled in the class, students will pick one of the classes below to complete during the year.

AP 2-D Art and Design

  • Students create a portfolio of work to demonstrate inquiry through art and design and development of materials, processes, and ideas over the course of a year. Portfolios include works of art and design, process documentation, and written information about the work presented. Students create two-dimensional art in one or more of the following areas; traditional design studies, graphic arts, photography, computer imaging. Prerequisite: Introduction to Art, and Drawing and Painting

AP 3-D Art and Design

  • Students in this course will submit a two-part portfolio that requires demonstration of fundamental competence and range of understanding of three-dimensional visual methods, applications and concepts. Students will demonstrate their understanding of the art elements and design principles as they relate to sculptural forms. Work may include figurative or non figurative sculpture, architectural models, ceramics, fiber arts, and found object assemblage.  Prerequisite: Introduction to Art, Drawing and Painting, and Sculpture and Ceramics.

AP Drawing 

  • This course guides students to refine their drawing and painting skills, to fulfill specific drawing assignments, and to develop a body of artwork they find to be an interesting artistic pursuit.  The course will be designed to meet the requirements to complete a portfolio established by the College Board.  The student will create a two-part portfolio that shows an understanding and exploration of a broad range of drawing issues.  Students work from observation and imagination to master multiple drawing issues.  Prerequisite: Introduction to Art, and Drawing and Painting


The Ottumwa High School instrumental and choral music programs are designed to give each student the opportunity to participate in all phases of music:  solo, small ensemble, and large group.

Solo and small ensemble students participate in the Iowa High School Music Association contests.  Large group participation includes String Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Marching and Parade Band, Bulldog Belles, Preludes, Troubadours, and Meistersingers.

The various music organizations provide both enjoyment and the prere¬quisites for college and university music departments. Many of our graduates have received excellent financial aid due to their high degree of performance in high school. Iowa High School Music Association regulations state that a student must be enrolled in one of the large group music organizations to be eligible to participate in state contests or festivals.

PRELUDES EOD: Grade 9-12, Year EOD=1 CR, No Prerequisite

  • Students involved in Band or Orchestra may enroll in Preludes EOD opposite their instrument days.  Performance requirements for Preludes include a Fall, Holiday, Winter, and Spring concert.  Interested students may compete in State Solo and Ensemble contest.  #9815, 9816

TROUBADOURS: Grade 9-12, Year=2 CR, No Prerequisite

  • Troubadours is an everyday non-selective mixed chorus composed of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.  Performance requirements include a Fall Festival as well as Holiday, Winter and Spring school concerts.  Interested students may compete in the State Solo and Ensemble Contest.  #9802, 9803

BELLS: Grade 9-12, Year=2 CR, Prerequisite=Audition

  • Bells is offered to select treble voices in high school, freshmen through seniors. Rehearsals are held daily.  Performance requirements include a Fall Festival as well as Holiday, Winter and Spring concerts.  Interested students may compete in the State Solo and Ensemble Contest.  Students may audition for Bells in the Spring.  #9804, 9805

MEISTERSINGERS: Grade 10-12, Year=2 CR, Prerequisite=Audition

  • Meistersingers is a SELECTIVE mixed chorus with daily rehearsals.  Many required performances and activities are scheduled for Meistersingers.  These include school concerts, All-State auditions, community performances, and contests.  The choral literature to be rehearsed and performed consists of four to eight parts and ranges from medium difficult to very difficult.  Only the most dedicated and talented singers will be selected for Meistersingers.  Several before school rehearsals may be necessary throughout the year to prepare for all-state auditions, the Holiday and the Pop Concerts.  #9806

MUSIC THEORY & TECHNOLOGY: Grade 9-12, Year=2 CR, Prerequisite= Instructor Interview 

  • Music theory and technology is a comprehensive course designed to prepare prospective college music majors or music minors.  It would be helpful for students to have at least one year of piano instruction prior to taking this class.  Course content will include basic music fundamentals, major and minor scales, chords, melodic lines, non-harmonic tones and modulation.  At the conclusion of the course, students should possess the ability to compose short original compositions. 
  • This seminar is for students interested in learning the fundamentals of musical technology.  The course will include the use of technology to create and record music and many other applications of specific computer programs.  Experience playing either keyboards or another instrument is helpful but not mandatory.  Students will consult with instructors prior to registration.   #9811

EARLY BIRD SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA EOD: Grade 9-12, Year EOD=1 CR, Prerequisite=Orchestra Experience

  • Early bird symphony orchestra meets at 7:20 on Monday and Wednesday starting after the marching band season is over (late October/early November).  All String Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra students MUST be enrolled in Early Bird Symphony Orchestra.  This orchestra is comprised of all string students as well as brass, woodwind, and percussion students.  During this rehearsal, full symphony orchestra music is rehearsed.  Performance requirements for Early Bird Symphony Orchestra include a fall, holiday, winter, and spring concert. #9801, 98012

CONCERT ORCHESTRA:  Grade 9-12, Year=2 CR, Prerequisite=Orchestra Experience

  • Concert Orchestra meets the first hour of every day. This is a 9-12 orchestra composed of just string instruments. Students enrolled in this class must also be enrolled in Early Bird Symphony Orchestra. Along with performing at school concerts, students will also have more opportunities to perform that are optional to them. These include, but not limited to: All-State Music Festival, SEISTA Honor Orchestra Festival, community performances and outreach, Solo and Ensemble, and Large Group competition. The group will give 5 required performances throughout the year. These are as follows: fall, holiday, winter, spring, and graduation. #0000

CONCERT ORCHESTRA EOD:  Grade 9-12, Year EOD=1 CR, Prerequisite=Orchestra Experience

  • Concert Orchestra EOD shares the same features as Concert Orchestra, with the exception that this group meets on days 2, 4, and 6. Students signing up for this option should ALSO be taking either Band EOD, or Preludes EOD. On days 1, 3, and 5 students will participate in that ensemble opposite of Concert Orchestra. #9800, 98002

CHAMBER ORCHESTRA/ENSEMBLE:  Grade 10-12, Year=2 CR, Prerequisite=Enrolled in either Concert Orchestra or Concert Orchestra EOD, audition requirement

  • Students who are wishing to participate in this group must also be registered in either Concert Orchestra, or Concert Orchestra EOD, as well as pass an audition in order to enter. This group is geared towards students who are more advanced and would like the challenge, and experience of chamber music. Students will have the opportunity to play literature in for smaller ensemble sizes, such as quartets, duets, etc., as well as larger group rehearsals without the assistance of a conductor. #0000

BEGINNING ORCHESTRA: Grade 9-12, Year = 2 CR, No Prerequisite 

  • This course is offered to all high school students who do not have any prior experience, or little experience playing a string instrument (violin, viola, cello, bass) and would like to learn. At the semester, students will have the opportunity to audition out of the beginning orchestra group in order to join the Concert Orchestra. Students who do not complete the audition, or wish not to audition, will remain in Beginning Orchestra for the second semester in order to hone technique and skill further. The following year, they will be able to join the group.   #9812

BAND: Grade 9-12, Year=2 CR, No Prerequisite 

  • The Band is comprised of students in grades 9 through 12, including those wishing to begin a band instrument.  Beginning band students will be enrolled in Band but will study privately until basic playing techniques are mastered and director permission is received.  Band members also comprise the Pride of Ottumwa Marching Band as well as the winter sport pep band.  Band meets every day and attendance is required at all rehearsals and performances.  (Varsity basketball players and cheerleaders are excused from the pep band.)  Students desiring to participate in a choir but who have no other free periods may enroll in Preludes with the permission of the directors of both Band and Preludes.  All Band members may audition for membership in the Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Bands, All-State Band, and State Solo and Ensemble Contest as well as various honor bands offered around the state.  #9807, 9808