Orange County School of the Arts

For the mountain in Peru spelled Uqsha or Ocsha, see Uqsha.
Orange County School of the Arts

Educating the Next Generation of World-Class Artists and Scholars
1010 N. Main Street
Santa Ana, California 92701
United States
Coordinates 33°45′14″N 117°52′05″W / 33.753864°N 117.86798°W / 33.753864; -117.86798
Type Public charter school
Established 1987
School district Santa Ana Unified School District
Faculty 200
Grades 7–12
Enrollment 1,920
Campus Urban
Color(s)                      yellow, orange, red, purple, blue (new)
Newspaper Evolution
Yearbook Dreamscape

Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA), colloquially called "OH-sha", which is retained from a mispronunciation of the previous acronym for the previous name of the school (respectively "Orange County High School of the Arts" and "OCHSA"), is a 7th–12th grade public charter school located in downtown Santa Ana, Orange County, California, United States. The school caters to middle and high school students with talents in the performing, visual, literary arts, and culinary arts. The educational program prepares students for higher education institutions or employment in the professional arts industry. Both the academic and arts program have prompted recognition in the US News' "Best High Schools" program.[1] OCSA recently changed its school name from "Orange County High School of the Arts" (OCHSA) to "Orange County School of the Arts" to reflect the inclusion of middle school students.


The Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) was founded in 1987 and reorganized as a public charter school on April 20, 2000. During that time the school was relocated from its primary facility at Los Alamitos High School to the Santa Ana Unified School District. OCSA is a tuition-free, donation-dependent public charter school governed by a board of trustees representing parents, the community, educators and the Santa Ana Unified School District.

The school is supported by The Orange County School of the Arts Foundation which is a non-profit organization for the financial support of the school's tuition-free artistic programs as well as its ongoing expansion plans. The Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation governed by a volunteer board of directors of prominent business and cultural leaders. With the input and guidance of the development staff the Foundation Board of Directors establishes fund-raising goals, manages long-term strategic planning, implements the school's capital, public relations and marketing campaigns, and oversees funding criteria. Members pay annual dues, serve on fundraising committees, attend the school's activities and serve as ambassadors to the community.

In the summer of 2012, the name of the school was changed from OCHSA (Orange County High School of the Arts) to OCSA (Orange County School of the Arts).


The Orange County School of the Arts students attend standard academic courses under a block schedule system with three academic classes per day alternating each day for a total of six classes. Honors classes are offered as well as many Advanced Placement classes. OCSA also has a selection of electives including Acting, Ceramics, Improv, Graphic Design, Zoology, Vocal Ensemble, Journalism, and Photography.

OCSA's 2012 Academic Performance Index (API) score of 908 ranked the school as one of the top five ranked high schools in Orange County and in the top 10 percent in California.

OCSA was named a Blue Ribbon School in 2006 by the U.S. Department of Education. OCSA was one of 250 Blue Ribbon schools recognized nationwide in 2006 among 35 schools in the State of California and five public schools in Orange County. OCSA was also named a California Distinguished School.

In 2009, 99% of OCSA alumni continued on to college,[2] with 79% going on to a 4-year university, 18% going to a 2-year university with plans to transfer to a 4-year university and 2% studying abroad. Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to continue participating in their artistic studies.

Art Attack Live

Art Attack Live set 2004–2005

The "Art Attack Live" is OCSA's daily live television broadcast of the day's announcements. The show began broadcasting by a group of 4 students from the Film and Television conservatory in September 2003. Broadcast to every television in the school, the short broadcast keeps students up to date on school events, and promotes activities.

Crew members consist of students from the school's Film and Television conservatory, and various students from other conservatories. The show is broadcast from one of OCSA's two live television production studios in the technology building. Students at the school are given the opportunity to audition to become hosts of the show or gain a crew internship.


After 2:15 p.m., Monday through Thursday, the school focuses on arts education which is divided into 14 conservatories: Production and Design, International Dance (was Ballet Folklórico), Classical and Contemporary Dance, Commercial Dance, Creative Writing, Film and Television, Integrated Arts, Instrumental Music (divided into Classical Instrumental, Piano, and Jazz/CMP), Commercial Music, Musical Theater, Classical Voice (was Opera), Visual Arts, Culinary Arts and Hospitality, and Digital Media (new to the 2013-14 school year).

James P. Blaylock, a fantasy author, was Director of the Creative Writing Department at OCSA. The co-directors are now Joshua Wood and Abbe Levine. The department's Writer in Residence is the award-winning fantasy author Tim Powers. The Instrumental Music Department holds many concerts throughout the year and performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City in spring of 2006. The school's Symphony Orchestra, directed by Chris Russell, performed in the Sydney Opera House in the summer of 2008. The Production and Design Conservatory at OCSA designs the costumes, lighting, audio, makeup and sets for over 125 school performances each year. They refer to their conseratory director as "Captain" because his name is Kevin Cook.

OCSA's largest event is the annual Season Finale, which takes place in early June at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The Finale recognizes notable graduating seniors, presents information about each conservatory, and includes theatrical presentations and instrumental performances, often showcasing pieces from the top performances of that year. OCSA's Gala fundraiser is the other large event and is held in coastal Orange County towards the end of March. The Gala is a themed fundraising event in which OCSA students from various conservatories perform. The event takes place at a hotel ballroom converted into a fully functioning theater by students of the Production and Design program.

Art Attack Live set redecorated to fit the campus' western-themed spirit week.


OCSA's campus consists of a seven-story office tower, which was formerly a bank and four surrounding buildings, the Annex, the Tech Building, Symphony Hall, the Bole building, and the new Dance Music Science center. The main tower's bank vault is still in use as a teacher work area and occasionally as an octagonal theater.

Symphony Hall's main stage set up for Awards Night 2005

OCSA has two on-campus venues. Symphony Hall is a theater, which holds most of the school's medium to larger performances and was originally a historic Church of Christian Science, (built in 1922) before being converted to a theater. The hall contains a theater, a side rehearsal room, separate practice rooms for instrumental musicians, a basement and library for the creative writers, a front of house audio booth, and a balcony overlooking the auditorium for the Production and Design students. This balcony houses an ETC lighting booth, multiple Source Four followspots, and a Lycian M2 Followspot nicknamed "The Spartan Laser". There is a plan to expand the Symphony Hall into an adjacent parking lot. The former on-campus venue, the Black Box Theatre, is now painted and floored entirely white, which serves as a dance room. As of fall 2015, the black box theatre returned to OCSA and has been renamed the Studio Theatre.

In addition to Symphony Hall, OCSA has another performance venue, The Margaret A. Webb Center for the Arts, located at 801 N. Main St. Formally known as The O.C. Pavilion, OCSA purchased the venue in 2010. The building contains a 500 seat theater, a cabaret/ jazz lounge with a small stage, and an event center.

The single-story "technology building" houses the bulk of the Film and Television department, the computer graphics portion of the Visual Arts department and a few administrative offices. There are two fully equipped studios one primarily for live television production and the other for film work. There is also a computer lab and a number of individual video editing rooms. The campus' daily student-run news television program Art Attack Live is broadcast from the television studio and adjacent control room.

Situated between the main campus and the technology building is a five-story ceramic tower covered in tiles called the "totem pole". It serves as a gathering place for students during break times, as well as a loading and unloading zone.

The "Annex" is a combination of two white windowless buildings. The Annex is home to many dance and vocal rooms and contains the Production and Design workshop where OCSA's production sets are constructed and painted. Since the 2010- 2011 school year, it has been the home to the majority of the 7th and 8th graders' academic classes.

In August 2015, OCSA opened The Marybelle Musco Dance Center, The Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Music Center, and The Argyros Science Center (DMS) building. The 60,000 square-foot building includes 8 science labs, 14 dance studios, 3 instrumental music and choir rehearsal rooms, 16 music practice rooms, and dressing rooms.

Notable students and alumni


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