"For nearly four decades, The Academy has been “home”to many hundreds of brilliant young people combining their capacity for imagination with a sense of purpose that has created a community that is the envy of schools across the country. Our students are not “at” The Academy, they “are” The Academy, and once they graduate, they have a responsibility to not look for communities, but to use their imagination and purpose to build them."

-Jason Patera
Head of School

The Academy Jazz Quartet

“Lingus” by Snarky Puppy

Transcribed by Adam Chlebek

Musicians featured: Declan Beyer (substitution: Jeremiah Collier), Adam Chlebek, Micah Collier, Anton Gratch

“Morning Ritual” from columbinus

Play by P.J. Paparelli and Stephen Karam

Actors featured: Mark Cristofanilli, Gabe Delli, Avery Ferguson, Jacob Flores, Natalee Hapaniewski, Ella Henning-Sepkoski, Ivan Jaramillo, Ali Kane, Piper Kilman, Olivia Leger, Grania McKirdie, Nora McKirdie, Caitlin Morley, Ceridwyn Quaintance

I continue to read opinions on feeds and timelines from folks who feel we may need to better shelter kids from the horrifying events that face our nation. But that’s not what we do here at The Chicago Academy for the Arts. Rather, we take the most challenging subjects facing our students and we confront them with art. This type of confrontation often infuses difficult topics with empathy—with movement toward openness. Approaching something with empathy, whether it is our stage combat class or our upcoming Spring Play, allows us to access even the most challenging issues. We know that sheltering students from the realities of the human experience will rarely prepare them for what lies beyond adolescence.”
— Ben Dicke, Theatre Department Chair

Visual Arts

I think nostalgia is tangible. At least it’s tangible for me - very fuzzy and warm. As time passes, memories become less about what was actually there, and more about what it felt like to be there. For this piece, I reconstructed my childhood memories by layering drawings of places my brother and I would visit. The drawings differ in size, paper, medium, and spacing, giving the piece an ever-changing visual landscape.”
— Annabelle Gross, Visual Arts '19
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Mayor Emanuel Proclaims February 15 

“Pat Rusk Day"

Why do I love this school? It’s the kids. I love musical directing, and coaching and accompanying them. I love it when my theory class gets so excited about a concept that they can’t contain themselves. I love it when one of my lunch hour class students realizes that he or she can sing.

People ask me why I don’t retire. When I walk in the door of The Academy and don’t have a smile on my face, I will know that it is time.”
— Pat Rusk
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Patricia Rusk, musical director, pianist, arranger, and coach for both musical theatre and cabaret, has been performing professionally since age thirteen and teaching since age sixteen. She has been an integral part of The Academy since 1997. In 2011, she became Musical Theatre Chair Emeritus at the Academy after fifteen years of heading the department.

She received a Bachelor of Arts with distinction from the Eastman School of Music and a Master of Arts from Northwestern University, with additional musical study at Villa Schifanoia, Florence, Italy. A musician who has worked in almost every area of entertainment, Rusk remains active in both classical and pop fields, moving easily from the recital hall to the theatre and cabaret. She has been seen or heard in almost every theatre in Chicago and is probably best remembered as the singing, pianist, musical director of the long running Forbidden Broadway in the 1980’s.

National tour credits include: A Chorus Line, Annie, Bob Fosse’s Dancin, Side by Side by Sondheim with Hermione Gingold, and Sugar Babies with Ann Miller and Mickey Rooney. She has played for Carol Channing, John Raitt, Patrice Munsel, and David Copperfield. She has performed twice at the Kennedy Center, in Washington, most recently with her students from The Academy. A member of the Musicians Club of Women, she currently serves on the board. A founding member of Chicago Cabaret Professionals, she also belongs to the Music Teachers National Association, and the National Guild of Piano Teachers. She continues to musical direct productions and team teach with Andy Robinson in the Musical Theatre studio classes. 

Media Arts: Exquisite Corpse

This dreadful sounding activity began innocently enough as a Victorian parlour game, during which players sequentially added details to a collective story. At the time, it was known primarily as “Consequences,” but the Surrealists pushed the game to its gorey-sounding current iteration by adding in the element of blind collaboration. Many of you may have played some version of this game using a simple sheet of paper and a pencil. In the most common version, the paper is folded into thirds, and players add one segment of the body (corpse) at a time without seeing the preceding details. In the end, the paper is unfolded, and a Frankenstein’s monster of juxtaposed styles and species is revealed to the players. Perhaps the head is that of a giraffe, the torso of a capuchin monkey, and wheels where feet should rightly sit.

Our version posed a singular question to our Media Artists, “What is Media Arts?” Writers, animators, and filmmakers each created a small segment in their respective disciplines, and then turned the rest over to fate. Remarkably, as you watch our “Exquisite Corpse” unfold, you will find that the disparate parts reveal their own patterns and synchronicities. The differences break apart and our similarities become clear. We are writers and filmmakers and animators, but together, “We are Media Arts.”
— Jessi Meliza, Media Arts Department Chair



Choreography by Randy Duncan
Music by Doug Brush

Dancers featured: Hope Adler, Sasha Bass-Ulmer, Jackson Bradford, Morgan Clune, Isaiah Day,
Jaylin Denwood, Amari Frazier, Avery Glunt, Colin Heino, Aden Hurst, Zachary Jeppsen, Jordyn Lando, 
Justine Oswiecimski, Gianna Rotkvich, Ariana Sugay, Lillian Yokom