• R.E.A.L. Prep Charter Academy
The only Portland public high school dedicated to the arts is planning to open to 250 students next February—if it can get off the ground. The R.E.A.L. (Recording. Entertainment. Arts. Literacy.) Prep Charter Academy says it will teach its students the state academic requirements while at the same time prepping students to be entertainment industry stars.

“The big entertainment and industry companies are already very interested,” says Erica Jay, Co-founder and Executive Director. “This is a school that is designed to train kids in the creative industries that Portland is trying to brand itself with."

The idea for the school was inspired by Minnesota's High School for Recording Arts. They will offer two years of arts focus, in particular world music, dance, theater and hip hop, followed by two years of business.

That is—if they actually ever open their doors. Right now the charter school is relying solely on a $55,000 federal incentive grant that Oregon hands out to new charter schools. But the grant can't be spent on finding a physical site for the school, so Jay is working right now to try and find donated space large enough to house the school.

The high school plans to have twelve core, salaried teachers, but their curriculum will aim to include other types of teaching, such as internships. “Our goal is to build a community school,” Jay says. “In which we incorporate businesses, artists, technicians and salaried teachers... We’re going to have the best kick-ass curriculum our nation will see.”

Right now Portland has a public elementary school (Buckman) and a junior high (Da Vinci) that are focused on the arts, but not much for a high school. There is a high school that is somewhat art-focused called the Renaissance Arts Academy, but Portland Public Schools spokesman Matt Shelby says this is more of a "small, neighborhood high school, not a magnet school that kids all over the city would come to."

Arts funding is a big issue in Portland right now. There is a Town Hall meeting about it Tuesday the 27th if you're interested and want to attend.