Nevada City School of the Arts celebrates 20th anniversary |

Nevada City School of the Arts celebrates 20th anniversary

First graders at the Nevada City School of the Arts are excited to get back to school Sept. 2. The charter school will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year.
Submitted photo |

When 397 kids poured into Nevada City School of the Arts last week, it marked the 20th anniversary of the public charter school opening its doors for the first day of school back in 1994.

Founded by parents and teachers, Nevada City School of the Arts was a pioneer in what was then uncharted territory of public charter schools in California.

“Those original parents and teachers had a vision of a nontraditional education that would inspire the love of learning in students,” said school director Holly Pettitt. “In the past 20 years, we’ve attracted a diverse and talented staff who, together with parents, have made that vision a successful reality.”

NCSA’s guiding philosophy is that the arts — music, dance, theater and the visual arts — are a crucial component in a child’s education. In practice, it means that every main-lesson teacher works in coordination with a visual arts and music teacher to support the academic curriculum.

“I love the collaboration of students, teachers and parents. It’s an ideal school.”
Lizz Seifert
NCSA graduate

Because NCSA is a public charter school, the school is free and open to all. There is no cost to attend, and there is no criteria for admissions − new students are selected by lottery.

This year, 397 are attending NCSA from early kindergarten through eighth grade. There are wait lists for every class at every grade level.

“I get calls every day from parents who want their kids to have the NCSA experience,” said enrollment coordinator and parent Rebecca Mooers.

In 1994, the school opened with fewer than 100 students in grades four through eight, and was located in creative facilities throughout Nevada City, including parent garages and parks.

Today its campus is set within a 365-acre forest where Grass Valley Group was once located, and the staff includes 19 main-lesson teachers, four artists in residence, three music teachers and 10 elective teachers who provide comprehensive arts-integrated instruction.

Although NCSA does not intend for their students to become professional artists, many alumni have gone on to careers in music, dance and visual art.

And some of those alumni have come full circle. There are now five former NCSA students who are current NCSA parents, one of whom works at the school and one is an active board member.

“The sense of community is as strong now as it was when I was a student at NCSA. I love the collaboration of students, teachers and parents. It’s an ideal school,” said Lizz Seifert, NCSA graduate, mother of a kindergarten student and a classroom aide.

NCSA will celebrate its 20th anniversary throughout the school year, including an alumni reunion. For information visit

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