Orange County School of the Arts
1010 N. Main Street

Santa Ana

United States
Coordinates33°45′14″N 117°52′05″W / 33.753864°N 117.86798°W / 33.753864; -117.86798
TypePublic charter school
MottoWe Are OCSA
FounderDr. Ralph Opacic
School districtGoverned by the Orange County Board of Education
DeanBecca Freeland (Student Services)
Michael Ciecek (Principal)
Sally Lopez (Instruction)
Maria Lazarova (Arts)
Executive DirectorTeren Shaffer
Color(s)      yellow, orange, red, purple, blue

Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA, /ˈʃə/ OH-shə),[a] is a 7th–12th grade public charter school located in downtown Santa Ana, California. The school caters to middle and high school students with talents in the performing, visual, literary arts, culinary arts and more. 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] In 2012 the school changed its name from "Orange County High School of the Arts" (OCHSA) to "Orange County School of the Arts".


Originally, this arts program began in 1983 as Los Al Players, a summer musical theatre camp for ages 4 – 16 founded by Terry Bigelow, Jean Parks, and Ralph Opacic in Los Alamitos, CA. Los Al Players grew into the Orange County High School of the Arts (OCHSA) 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.

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). This was done to account for the grades 7-8 that are also in attendance at the school.


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 2017, 99% of OCSA alumni continued on to college,[2] with 72% going on to a 4-year university, 22% going to a 2-year university with plans to transfer to a 4-year university and 6% are going directly into the workforce. Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to continue participating in their artistic studies.

Art Attack Live

Art Attack Live set 2004–2005
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. This is also written by the attending students and peers can apply to be a part of these broadcasts by hosting them with designated themes.


After 2:15 p.m., Monday through Thursday, the school focuses on arts education which is divided into 15 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 Strings and Orchestra, Piano, Wind Studies, and Jazz), Popular Music, Musical Theater, Acting, Classical Voice (was Opera), Visual Arts, Culinary Arts and Hospitality, and Digital Media (new to the 2013–14 school year). As of the 2018–2019 school year, The Guitar Program (formerly one of the branches of the Instrumental Music Program) is shutting down and not accepting new students.

James P. Blaylock, a fantasy author, was Director of the Creative Writing Department at OCSA. The director is currently Josh Wood. The department's Writer in Residence is the 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 conservatory 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.
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 Visual Arts Center, The Margaret A. Webb Theater, 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
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 with a Behringer X32 digital sound console, and a balcony overlooking the auditorium for the Production and Design students. This balcony houses an ETC lighting booth using the ION console and 2 Source Four followspots. Communication throughout the theatre is done with a Clear-Com system. The former on-campus venue, the Black Box Theatre, was painted and floored entirely white, serving as a dance room until fall 2015, where the black box theatre returned to OCSA and has been renamed the Studio Theatre. It also is used as a classroom for Production & Design students to learn lighting. The lighting is controlled by an ETC Element console.

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 in the basement, and an event center above the theater. In the main theatre, all conservatories are allowed to use the space for performances. Production & Design students assist the performances. They run the lighting system, also using the ETC ION console. There are 3 followspots and a video control booth in addition to the lighting section. There is also a front of house audio booth with a Yamaha CL5 and a dedicated audio playback computer, which is an iMac running QLab. On stage there is a large stage lift that is used mostly for transporting large objects to and from the basement. Above the stage hangs 4 lighting electrics, and other battens for hanging drapery or scenery. Communication is also run with a Clear-Com system. In the event center, an ETC ColorSource console runs ColorSource pars for the stage area. There is also a Behringer X32 digital sound console for audio.

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. A large courtyard area with fake grass is a spot where students can relax during non instructional times. This space was used for the 2018 Acting Conservatory production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Notable students and alumni


  1. ^ Retained from a pronunciation of the previous acronym for the previous name of the school (respectively "Orange County High School of the Arts" and "OCHSA").
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