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Philadelphia High School for
Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA)
901 South Broad Street

Coordinates39°56′22″N 75°09′57″W / 39.9395°N 75.1658°W / 39.9395; -75.1658
TypePublic secondary
School districtSchool District of Philadelphia
PrincipalJennifer Melendez (interim)
Teaching staff28.05 (FTE)[1]
Enrollment703 (2017–18)[1]
Student to teacher ratio25.06[1]

The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, commonly known as CAPA, is a magnet school in South Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the edge of the Christian Street Historic District.[2] It is a part of the School District of Philadelphia. Students major in one of seven areas: creative writing, instrumental music, visual arts, theater, dance, vocal music, and media, design, television & video (MDTV). Students may also minor after their freshman year as long as they meet the audition requirements. The school is located on South Broad Street, in the former Ridgway Library. Notable alumni include Boyz II Men, Questlove and Black Thought of The Roots and Leslie Odom Jr.


The center section of the Ridgeway Library building

CAPA was founded in 1978 by John R. Vannoni.[3] The school was originally located in the Atlantic Building at Broad and Spruce Streets where it shared space with the Philadelphia College of the Arts (formerly the University of the Arts).[4]

CAPA moved into the Palumbo Elementary School Building at 11th and Catherine Streets in 1984.[3] The school board had planned to close Palumbo School, but canceled the closure to accommodate CAPA.[3]

CAPA moved into the restored Ridgway Library building at Broad and Christian Streets in November 1997. In its new location, CAPA became an anchor on Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts.[5]

In November 2014, CAPA alumni Black Thought and Questlove of The Roots helped to launch the CAPA Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the mission of raising funds and providing financial support to the school.[6]

On Saturday, June 24, 2017, the stretch of Broad Street in front of the school was renamed Boyz II Men Boulevard.[7] The R&B group attended CAPA when it occupied space in Palumbo Elementary School. The Palumbo building appears in the group's Motownphilly music video.[8]

Students and faculty

CAPA served 707 students in grades 9-12 during the 2017-2018 school year. The school has a 96% graduation rate and a 95% college matriculation rate.[9][10] CAPA ranked #62 among high schools in Pennsylvania by the 2018 Best High Schools edition of the U.S. News & World Report.[9]

The current teacher is student ratio is 22:1.[9] CAPA's longest serving faculty member, dance teacher LaDeva Davis, had been with the school since its founding in 1978.[11] She died in September of 2022.


CAPA's academic curriculum includes English, history, mathematics, science, Spanish, physical education and health. Honors and AP classes are offered in English, history, mathematics and science.[12]

Creative writing

Creative writing (CW) is responsible for various school publications and events. Many writers are also a part of the yearbook staff.

Every year, under faculty supervision, the creative writing majors get together to put on their own show, the Writers' Cafe, an expose where many creative writing students perform original pieces they have authored, ranging from simple poetry reading to dramatic performance art.

Course syllabus


The CAPA Dance Department instructs their students in different levels of Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Tap, Hip-Hop, and Flamenco. Dance majors perform annually in the Thanksgiving Day Parade as well as the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.[14]

Instrumental music

The CAPA Instrumental Department encompasses a wide variety of performances and ensembles, including concert band, orchestra, and string ensembles, Jazz ensemble and a number of smaller groups. Students participate in these ensembles on a daily basis and are also instructed in such topics as music theory, composition and improvisation. CAPA students are integral members of the All-Philadelphia High School music ensembles and have participated in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association ensemble program at the district, regional and all-state levels.

Graduates of the CAPA instrumental program have attended some of America's finest colleges, universities, and conservatories, such as the Curtis Institute, the Peabody Conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, and as of 2024, the Juilliard School.

The instrumentalists have taken trips to play all over the tri-state area from Harrisburg to Atlantic City. The CAPA concert band has also recorded their own CD entitled Superlative. CAPA graduate, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Rhyuhn Green performed his original piano solo "Symbiosis" at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts All-City Music Festival. [15]



The Theater Department puts on an average of seven performances a year, plus three more by the MyVision Theater Ensemble, a selective theater group. The students actors also worked in partnership with the Philadelphia Theatre Company to see plays and write their own pieces with teaching artists from the company before PTC's education department was removed in 2018.

Course syllabus

Visual arts

CAPA's Visual Arts department covers a variety of disciplines, including: drawing and painting, graphic design, commercial arts, and ceramics and 3-dimensional sculpture.

Freshmen and sophomores focus on drawing and quick sketching. Students also study the human body and perspective. The freshman students are introduced to hand-built pottery and 3-D clay design, and learn basic graphic design. The juniors and seniors learn advanced graphic design, commercial art, continue painting, advanced 3-D sculpture and work on college portfolios.

Throughout all four years at CAPA, art major students are required to enter a variety of contests, and complete various projects.[16]

Vocal music

There are two separate choruses : Concert Choir and Mixed Choir. There is also a Combined Choir period where the entire major (all classes) sing and perform repertoire together. Concert Choir is the elite, select group of singers (sophomores to seniors), to get in students must keep up their grades, be competent and respectful in class, and sing out. The Mixed Choir is where freshman students begin and upperclassmen who do not make it into Concert Choir sing in this ensemble as well. All vocal majors have to take at least one year of Solfeggio (two if you begin in freshman year). Solfeggio (or Solfege) is a sight reading and ear training course, you will also learn piano skills in these courses. Juniors take Music History. In addition, an Advanced Placement Theory class is required for seniors to teach them how to master the art of harmony. You must pass all of these courses to graduate.

The CAPA choirs have achieved a position of excellence among choral groups in the Delaware Valley.

A few of the choir's notable singing engagements:

Communication technology (MDTV)

Communication technology or MDTV (stands for media, design & television)[18] is the most recent addition to the majors available at CAPA. Students learn filming, video editing, storyboarding, photography, and graphic design. MDTV students also submit their work into a variety of external film festivals and contests. The major hosts multiple events throughout the year such as Fright Fest and CAPA's annual film festival.


Besides academic and art courses, CAPA offers many extracurricular activities, organizations, and sports teams to students.

Extracurricular activities

Councils and committees

Clubs and organizations

Sports teams

Notable alumni

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Creative and Performing Arts". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  2. ^ Snyder, Susan. "It's good to be king - of your high school Guys get their own pageant." Philadelphia Inquirer. March 13, 2005. Retrieved on September 21, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "ARTS HIGH TO SHARE PALUMBO SCHOOL SPACE." Philadelphia Daily News. May 24, 1984. Retrieved on September 21, 2012.
  4. ^ Cook, Bonnie L. (October 31, 2017). "John R. Vannoni, 91, founding principal of Philly's High School for Creative and Performing Arts".
  5. ^ Conroy, Theresa (November 5, 1997). "AVENUE OF THE ARTS GEM". Philadelphia Daily News.
  6. ^ Scott, Katherine (November 4, 2014). "The Roots help launch new CAPA Foundation". 6 ABC. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  7. ^ "Another honor for Boyz II Men: Philly street with their name". Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  8. ^ "Boyz II Men - Motownphilly". Youtube. 1990. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c "Creative and Performing Arts". U.S. News & World Report: Best High Schools.
  10. ^ Staff Writer (March 15, 2016). "CAPA students enjoy immersing in artistic domain". Philadelphia Tribune. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  11. ^ Graham, Kristen A. (December 26, 2015). "An 'old school' treasure celebrates 50 years in Philly classrooms". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  12. ^ "Academics". website. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  13. ^ "Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts". Archived from the original on September 21, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
  14. ^ "Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts". Archived from the original on September 20, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
  15. ^ Andersen, Eva (April 25, 2024). "Musical prodigy from Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts to study at Juilliard this fall - CBS Philadelphia". Retrieved June 12, 2024.
  16. ^ "Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts". Archived from the original on September 20, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
  17. ^ "Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts". Archived from the original on September 21, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
  18. ^ "MDTV Promo". October 17, 2014. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved May 27, 2019 – via YouTube.
  19. ^ "UWA - we've got issues". Archived from the original on September 21, 2008. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
  20. ^ "Student Council". Archived from the original on September 21, 2008. Retrieved September 5, 2008.