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The San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) is a San Diego Unified School District college-preparatory, arts-focused public magnet school for students in grades 6 through 12 who have a strong interest and talent in the arts. Successful SCPA students have the passion and determination to make the most of the school’s unique arts training, encouragement, and support while balancing the demands of an academic and arts program in a seven period day.

All prospective SCPA students must submit an School Choice Application available online at https://www.sandiegounified.org/school-choice-application.

All prospective high school students are required to audition. Audition information is available on the SCPA website under Enrollment. Students must call SCPA and arrange for an audition appointment.


The San Diego School of Creative & Performing Arts will set the standard for a rigorous dual curriculum in grades 6-12 in preparation for post-secondary experiences in the arts and academics. SD SCPA students engage in powerful exchanges of creativity, critical thinking, and civic responsibility inspired by an appreciation for diversity in a collaborative environment promoting lifelong learning in the arts and academics.

Our Mission

The San Diego School of Creative & Performing Arts commits to:

  • A rigorous scope and sequence in the arts and academics
  • Experiences with professional artists and scholars
  • An evolving and innovative framework of high standards in arts-integrated teaching and learning
  • Ample opportunities for innovation, creativity, and critical thinking
  • A diverse, safe, and supportive environment to unlock the potential of scholars as artists

Student Learning Objectives (SLOs)

Each SLO clarifies for the entire school community what students will know, understand and be abe to do when they graduate from high school (i.e., a citizen who learns, thinks and communicates with confidence). The SLOs guide policies, procedures, and standards-based curricula that align with these SLOs:

  • SCHOLAR: An SCPA scholar is a critical and creative thinker with a deep-rooted passion for learning and discovery. Our scholars strive to be critical thinkers with the tools for sophisticated literacy in their art and academic curriculum.
  • CITIZEN: An SCPA citizen is actively involved in developing an environment that is welcoming, engaging, and inclusive of a highly diverse community. Our citizens engage in meaningful action toward equity and equality for all people. They are upstanders against bullying, harassment, and harmful behaviors.
  • PROFESSIONAL: An SCPA professional strives toward excellence in preparation for success in college, career, and life. Our professionals show up for responsibility with a preparedness and active stance toward lifelong learning and success. Our students do not give up.
  • ARTIST: An SCPA artist is a courageous and self-disciplined individual with the perseverance and continuous desire to create authentic works of art. Our artists’ voices are nurtured through intensive arts training in order to develop a solid launching ground for success as they live their passion.



Established in 1978, under the leadership of founding principal Florence Johnson and project resource teacher Ole Kittleson, the School of Creative and Performing Arts opened as a school-within-a school on the Roosevelt Middle School campus. As a result of a court mandate, SCPA was one of San Diego Unified School District's first magnet schools created to facilitate voluntary integration. SCPA first opened with 1 administrator, 17 teachers, 1 counselor, 17 support staff and 180 students in grades 4, 5, and 6. 46 seventh grade students were added in the spring semester with 8th grade added the following year. These 8th grade students became the first graduating class of SCPA. In the Fall of 1982, SCPA relocated to the former Mabel E. O'Farrell site in Southeast San Diego and became known as the O'Farrell School of Creative and Performing Arts.

As the program grew in popularity, it became inevitable that SCPA would require a new facility to meet the demands of this unique and successful new school. In the Fall of 1990, SCPA moved to its new, permanent site and became known as the San Diego School of Creative & Performing Arts. SCPA today occupies a 12 million dollar facility in southeast San Diego(Paradise Hills) that maintains a fully equipped 500 seat theatre, a 100 seat black box, box office, 6 dance studios, TV studio/video recording booth, art and music rooms, library, computer labs as well as traditional academic classrooms and science labs. The school now boasts 1500 students, an administrative team of 4, 72 teachers, 4 counselors,and a support staff of 70. The school offers annually an artistic season consisting of dance, choral and instrumental concerts, an art exhibition, and musical theatre and dramatic productions presented in both the Florence Johnson Grand Theatre and the Ole Kittleson Theatre.

High School Arts Curriculum

Creative Writing
Creative Writing, Journalism, ROP Broadcast Journalism, ROP Multimedia Production, Intro to Arts, Media and Entertainment (AME) Production
Ballet, Modern Dance, Dances of Mexico and Spain, Dances of the Emerald Isle
Theatre (acting), Musical Theatre, Production and Performance, Technical Theatre, Media Practice and Media Communication, Theatrical Design, ROP Arts Management
Strings, Jazz, Brass, Wind, Percussion, Piano, Orchestra, Music Theory, Choir
Visual Arts
Art, Foundations in Visual Arts and Design, Painting, Drawing, Photography, ROP Fabrication and Design, ROP Digital Imaging, ROP Digital Art and Mixed Media, Senior Art Studio, AP Drawing, AP 3-D Design, AP 2D Art Studio, AP History, AP Art History ROP Broadcast Journalism, ROP Multimedia Production, Video, Intro to Arts, Media and Entertainment (AME Production)

High School Academic Curriculum

A-G College Admissions with High School Diploma

English 4 years, Mathematics 3 years, Social Studies 3 years, Science (Lab + 1yr: Other) 2 years, Fine Art 1 year, College Prep Elective 1 year, World Language 2 years, Other Electives 
Total Credits Needed: 44 
The average SCPA student graduates with 56 credits.

Advanced Placement Courses

AP Art History, AP Art Studio 2D, 3D, and Drawing, AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP Environmental Science, AP Government, AP Music Theory, AP Physics, AP US History, AP World History, AP World Language: Spanish

Middle School Curriculum

English, Math, Social Studies, Science, World Language, Physical Education, Foundational arts courses in Visual Arts, Drama, Dance, and Music

Academic Performance Index (API)

SCPA met its 2010 API criteria:
2012 Base API = 819
2013 Growth API = 816
2012-2013 Growth = -3
% of students Proficient or Advanced in English Language Arts: 2011 - 62%, 2012 - 68%, 2013 - 63%; Mathematics: 2011 - 45%, 2012 - 49%, 2013 - 51%
The Faculty at SCPA includes GATE Certified Teachers and AVID trained instructors.
We are very proud of the fact that SCPA graduates have been accepted to many prestigious colleges, universities and conservatories such as Juilliard, Carnegie Mellon, University of Pennsylvania, the New England Conservatory, Emerson College, Pepperdine University, University of the Arts Philadelphia, Boston University, the University of San Diego, San Diego State University and all UC and CSU schools.

Distinguished Alumni

Janine Montag (2012) First freshmen to be accepted into McKayle's Etude Ensemble
Andra Day (2003) Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter
Joshlyn Turner (2003) An experienced stage manager, producer, director, and screen/playwright.
Erin Blakemore (1998) Highly noted by the Washington Post for her debut book The Heroine's Bookshelf.
Sara Ramirez (1993) Callie Torres on TV's Grey's Anatomy, Tony Award winner for Spamalot.
Albert Thorne (1995) Graduate from the University of California Irvine and held the starring role in Red Tails
Ray Campbell (1985), Screen Actors Guild Award nominee for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama for Breaking Bad in 2012.
Christian Hoff (1986) Tony Award winner for Jersey Boys.
Many more successful SCPA graduates can be found under our Alumni section.

Ways for Parents to Be Involved