The Arts

Our Creative Experience

The Arts Portrait

“Education in the arts is more important than ever. In the global economy, creativity is essential…Creative experiences are part of the daily work life of engineers, business managers, and hundreds of other professionals. To succeed today and in the future, America’s children will need to be inventive, resourceful, and imaginative. The best way to foster that creativity is through arts education.”

Arne Duncan
former U.S. Secretary of Education (2011)

At E.L. Haynes, we invest in a robust arts curriculum throughout our Pre-K – 12 program. Whether it is vocal performance, dance, musical instruments, drama, or visual arts, we believe that every student should have access to a high-quality arts education.

Research tells us the positive impacts of arts-rich environments on students of all ages – from increased attendance and engagement, positive academic outcomes in math and literacy, and to higher graduation rates, as well as to future civic participation. But, access to arts-rich environments is not consistent across the country, nor across schools in Washington, DC. 

During a week-long intensive intersession course, students learn to use various techniques to paint self portraits on wood.  Artist: E’layjah, 2nd Grade.

Since 2012, we have increased our investment in the arts to span our entire Pre-K – 12 curriculum. Our youngest learners participate in play and arts-based learning where art and art history play a critical component in their literacy instruction. In Pre-K, a student becomes an expert in Vincent Van Gough or Jackson Pollack, and throughout our elementary school, every single student receives music, visual art, and dance instruction twice per week. These classes lead to quarterly performances – a winter concert or spring play, Hispanic Heritage or Black History Month. 

E.L. Haynes' Performance of The Lion King
For their annual spring play, elementary school students performed The Lion King, Jr. in May 2017.

“The arts are a tremendous equalizer among our students,” Brittany Wagner-Friel, our elementary school principal, often says. For our students with learning differences or behavior challenges – especially our significant population of special education students and English learners – they can access opportunities to thrive in settings outside of a traditional classroom. 

Through Intersession and after-school programming at our elementary and middle school, we provide deeper engagement in the arts – whether it is video and digital art, choir, or contemporary dance – these in-depth experiences give our students important outlets to find passions and skills they might not otherwise explore.

E.L. Haynes' Middle School Student Plays Guitar
As part of the middle school music curriculum, students can learn to play various musical instruments, including guitar, marimba, xylophone, drums, as well as create and produce digital music.

At our middle school, students continue to flex their creative muscles – through visual arts, drama, and instrumental music instruction. Our visual arts program trains students in painting, drawing, and more recently graphic design and digital arts. Students explore artists like Kandinsky, learning from their methods and creating their own inspired works. Each spring, students in our drama elective and drama club put on a high-quality production. From Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, to Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, to this spring’s High School Musical, these performances showcase our students’ talents and abilities. They also provide critical opportunities for students often struggling in traditional classroom settings to find meaningful creative outlets.  

Student Art
At the high school, the visual arts courses culminate in Advanced Placement Studio Art. Students present a portfolio of work and depending on their score are able to earn college credit.

Our high school arts curriculum centers on vocal performance, visual arts, and creative writing. Students perform in choirs or in musicals. They participate in cross-campus performances, and serve as mentors to our younger artists. In addition to regular arts electives, our students participate in extra-curricular partnerships with arts education organizations like Critical Exposure or participate in Advanced Placement Studio Art, showcasing professional portfolios. Our students recite poetry for the annual Poetry Out Loud competition sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, and in spring 2019, we published our first literary journal – The Pride. 

Through Intersession and after-school programming, we provide deeper engagement in the arts – whether it is video and digital art, choir, painting and drawing, graphic design, or dance – these in-depth experiences give our students important outlets to find passions and skills they might not otherwise explore.As former President Barack Obama said, “the arts are what makes life worth living. You’ve got food, you’ve got shelter, yeah. But, the things that make you laugh, make you cry, make you connect – make you love – are communicated through the arts. They aren’t extras.” At E.L. Haynes, the arts are woven into the fabric of our student’s academic experience, helping our students thrive in a 21st century world.

Story Index


Jennifer C. Niles

Our Founder

Read the story of Jennifer C. Niles

Dr. Euphemia Lofton Haynes

Our Namesake

Read the story of Dr. Euphemia Lofton Haynes

The Arts

Our Creative Experience

Read the story of The Arts


Our Wrap-Around Services

Read the story of Wellness

Brittany Wagner-Friel

Our Elementary School Principal

Read the story of Brittany Wagner-Friel

Civil Rights Tour of the South

Our Commitment to Social Justice

Read the story of Civil Rights Tour of the South

Robotics and Extracurricular Activities

Our Signature Experiences

Read the story of Robotics and Extracurricular Activities

The College Office

Our College-Bound Culture

Read the story of The College Office

Marisol Castillo

Our Commitment to Academic Rigor

Read the story of Marisol Castillo

Marcus Peterson

Our Commitment to Excellence

Read the story of Marcus Peterson

Ty’ease SetepenRa

Our Commitment to Starting Strong

Read the story of Ty’ease SetepenRa

Rick Kenner

Our Commitment to Leadership Development

Read the story of Rick Kenner

Reynaldo Paniagua (Mr. P)

Our Founding Families

Read the story of Reynaldo Paniagua (Mr. P)

E.L. Haynes Graduates

Our Alumni Thrive in College, Career, and Life

Read the story of E.L. Haynes Graduates

E.L. Haynes’ Future

Our Next Chapter: 2020-2025

Read the story of E.L. Haynes’ Future

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