Performing Arts. Visual Arts. Mandarin immersion. Sustainable architecture. Public charter K-8 school. Award winning. Any / all of these descriptors have been applied to Redding School of the Arts, one of many good schools in Shasta County in Northern California.

RSA’s founders viewed the arts not as something extra but rather as something vital – especially for those students who seem to have the arts hard wired in their DNA. Just as public schools were cutting back on performing and visual arts due to budget constraints, Redding School of the Arts opened its doors in 1999.

Now 15 years old, RSA has received a multitude of wonderful awards including prestigious international attention for its new sustainable facility, designed by Trilogy Architecture, at 955 Inspiration Place. The new school opened its doors in the fall of 2011.

Redding School of the Arts Academics

RSA’s academic approach, from the beginning, has focused on using an interdisciplinary approach to tie in visual and performing arts throughout the school day. A cornerstone of the school has always been its unique theater opening to the outside.

Besides visual and performing arts, there is a K-5 Mandarin immersion program offering the opportunity for students to become bilingual, bicultural and bi-literate at a young age. Why Mandarin? More people speak Mandarin on the planet than English.

Both the arts and Mandarin immersion have been mainstays of the educational curriculum offered since the early days.

Redding School of the Arts Sustainable Architecture

Whether intentional or not, RSA (the school itself) has become a wonderful tool for teaching green! Students and teachers are now surrounded daily by an extraordinarily-environmentally-friendly-structure.

The goal in the school design was build a campus that used equal to or less than the energy the school itself generated. This is referred to as ‘net zero.’ No rock went unturned in its design. While it may not have been the school’s initial intention, it has turned into a natural opportunity for teachers and students to learn first hand the difference “net zero” buildings can make to our environment. Schools of old didn’t give much thought in this direction.

Some of the school’s environmental features include: using as much natural light as possible; lights turn off when no one is in the room; solar and wind produce most of the electricity; majority of windows face north (cooler) while south facing (hotter) windows have large overhangs, operable windows for cross ventilation, and canvas duct for semi-conditioned space. Here is more about the RSA’s design, including a cost comparison of other architecture vs. a school built in this manner.

The McConnell Foundation deemed it a good investment in the community to fund the $25 million dollar school. The school, in turn, leases it back from the foundation.

RSA was the first school campus in the world to receive the LEED for Schools 2009 Platinum certification recognizing a balance in design between traditional elements and innovative concepts. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. If you’d like to learn more about the school’s awards and see photos, click here.

At this time, there is an exciting endeavor underway to fund a LEED certified 800 seat community children’s theater to be called The Raven and the Unicorn.

More about Redding School of the Arts

If you are interested in learning more about Redding School of the Arts, RSA’s website is a good place to start. A fair amount of parental involvement is one of the requirements.
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May 2014