Students at William Penn Senior High School can start enrolling immediately in the York City School District's back-by-popular-demand performing arts program, Superintendent Eric Holmes said.

This fall, Holmes said, the district will offer its students in grades 9-12 seven beginner-level courses: dance, voice, technical theater, stage management, creative writing and poetry, directing and acting.

In the spring, the high school will offer the introductory courses again. Second-level courses in those subjects will also be available for students who passed the introductory classes.

Eventually, the district could offer third- and fourth-level courses, Holmes said.

The district's school board voted last week to authorize Holmes to finalize an agreement with the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, which is partnering with the district to coordinate the program.

"The most important thing is that we would like this to be a premier component of our high school, as it used to be. We want to bring that back. We want to give students a reason to come to York High," Holmes told the board.

New life: In 2011, the school board cut the high school's Performing Arts Institute from the district's budget to save money.

The institute had been a part of the high school's elective curriculum for about 25 years, Holmes said.


Soon afterward, New Hope Academy Charter School partnered with the Strand to implement its own performing-arts program.

New Hope will close in June, however, because its charter was revoked by the district.

For a cost of about $300,000, district officials are planning to resurrect the institute in the fall.

Ken Wesler, the Strand's executive director, addressed the board at an earlier meeting.

Wesler said he envisions a curriculum designed to accommodate students who want to pursue the arts as a career and those students who simply have an interest in performance.

In the future: Plans are in the works for both a fall play and a spring musical planned and performed by students taking the arts classes, Wesler said.

There will also be special workshops and mentoring, he said.

Classes will be held at both the high school and the Strand.

Holmes said he is working now to finalize the district's partnership agreement with the Strand.

When that is done, the district will start hiring staff for the program, he said.

Margie Orr, the school board president, said she's looking forward to the program's return.

"Bringing this back is going to bring joy to a lot of our children," she said.

— Reach Erin James at