Shelby County Schools



Arts in Education

Overton High’s Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) program is widely recognized throughout the city, state and nation as an outstanding training ground for talented and dedicated high school students. Students in the pro­gram have won many awards in music, dance, drama and the visual arts, reflecting the skills of the students and the ability of teachers at Overton to lead students to a high degree of excellence.

The CAPA program features specialized courses in art, choral music, broadcasting, creative writing, instrumental music, piano, music theory, dance and theater. 

 In addition to developing their skills in the arts, Overton students participate in challenging academic classes. Overton offers enriched courses in English, his­tory, science, mathematics, and three foreign languages. Advanced Placement courses are offered in biology, cal­culus, computer science, junior and senior English, U.S. history, music theory, and Studio Art I and II, giving students the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school. Regular academic courses and/or techno­logical courses may be combined with a program of study in the arts. Many Overton students choose to par­ticipate in Broadcasting Orientation classes that give them practical as well as theoretical experiences in tele­vision broadcasting.


Curriculum Options

Dance is an art that emphasizes technical and performance skills. Overton’s CAPA dance program provides a variety of dance styles including jazz, ballet, lyrical, modern, and tap. Overton dancers frequently win top honors in local and regional competitions, as well as receive college scholarships. The dancers are active in productions throughout the city.

Vocal Music
If singing is your passion, Overton is the school for you! Overton’s choirs include concert, men, women, gospel and jazz. The Chamber Singers and CAPA Swingers Show Choir, which promote and highlight Overton’s top vocalists, tour and perform extensively. Overton students have won superior festival ratings, first place trophies and gold medals in every festival and contest entered since 1976. The choirs have been
honored as the highest scoring of the 167 mixed choruses that competed in the North American Music
Festivals in Canada and the United States.

The piano program offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for students to develop their skills as young artists.
At Overton, piano students are able to cultivate and refine their skills in an outstanding facility that features
14 full-size, touch-sensitive Technics electronic pianos, each MIDI-equipped to interface with a Macintosh
computer. The piano lab also houses one nine-foot Baldwin concert grand piano.


The Overton Drama Department offers an out­standing opportunity for students to learn all aspects of theater. During the school year, students have the opportunity to act, direct, and work as technicians for main stage productions as well as various live theater and community productions. The challenging curricu­lum goes beyond the classroom to include local, state, and international travel to participate in studies of Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and Moliere. Discipline, dedication, and excellence are the foundation of this intense program.

Instrumental Music


Overton’s bands (marching, concert and jazz) con­sistently win top honors in competitions and are recognized on a national level, with invited perform­ances at conferences throughout the country. Overton band members have been selected as members of All-West Bands, All-West Jazz Bands, All-State Bands, All-State Jazz Bands, All-State Orchestra, Memphis Youth Symphony and Grammy All Star Jazz Band.

Band members are awarded college scholarships to some of the most prestigious schools in the country. Last year 100 percent of the senior band students who applied were successful in earning scholarships to fur­ther their studies and training.


String students in the CAPA Orchestra Program at Overton have the opportunity to study and perform some of the best known and most revered music of the professional string orchestra repertoire. In addition, students study chamber music, solo playing tech­niques, and music from other genres such as jazz and ragtime.

Throughout the year orchestra students have oppor­tunities to combine with wind, brass, and percussion students (from Overton and elsewhere) to work as members of full symphony orchestras. Each year Overton orchestra students are selected to participate in the Tennessee All-State Honors Orchestra as well as other prestigious ensembles such as the Memphis Youth Symphony Orchestra.


The broadcasting program provides technological­ly advanced opportunities for students who demon­strate a serious interest in learning about the field of electronic media. Participating students are able to gain hands-on experience using state-of-the-art elec­tronic communications technology at the Memphis City Schools’ Telecommunications Center. Students learn through conceptualizing, researching, writing, directing and producing various network-type shows and special projects.

Creative Writing

Imaginative students have a wonderful opportuni­ty to express themselves through the Creative Writing program. Through this outstanding program, students can gain a broad overview of all writing styles or concentrate on a specific genre.

The writing department regularly enters writing contests resulting in student work appearing in regional and national publications. Students create and publish a professional quality book yearly accompanied by a book-signing event at a local bookstore.

Visual Arts

The visual arts program prepares students for advanced art study through a series of classes that build visual awareness and technical skills.

In-depth studies in drawing and painting are taught along with photography, pottery, sculpture, printmaking and fibers.

Digital Art Design

DAD (Digital Art Design), a design lab equipped with student computer stations and networked sup­port equipment, offers art students knowledge and skills in graphic design, architectural design and multimedia.


Students applying for the Overton School of Creative and Performing Arts must complete an Application for
Optional Schools form, which can be obtained from the school or the Division of Optional Schools, 2597 Avery Avenue, Room 106.

Students must also submit a copy of the most recent comprehensive report card. The report card must reflect:
• 2.0 overall grade point average for each semester
• No grade lower than a D as a semester or final grade
• Students entering grades 9-12 must score at or above the 50th percentile on the Reading/Language Arts
AND on the Mathematics subtests of the TCAP Achievement Test or nationally-normed achievement test.
• Students must score advanced on the appropriate Gateway exams
• Satisfactory conduct
• Satisfactory attendance (including promptness to school and each class). A total of more than 15 absences and/or tardies to school and to class is considered unsatisfactory.
• Final approval is contingent upon review of the student’s final report card.
• Transportation is the responsibility of the student’s parents/legal guardians.

In addition to the academic, conduct and attendance requirements, students must successfully complete an interview or audition, be willing to stay an extra hour each day in a specialized CAPA class, and agree to meet all the requirements of the student’s major department. After submitting an Application for Optional Schools, the student or parent will be contacted by Overton’s staff to arrange for an audition or interview.

To remain in the optional program, students must submit a Renewal Application for Optional Schools form each year and maintain the admission requirements for grades, attendance and conduct, as well as program requirements. Failure to maintain all of these requirements will result in the student’s removal from the program.

All transfers to the program from outside the assigned geographical boundaries of Overton High School must be officially approved by the Division of Optional Schools annually.

Community Support

Overton has been enriched by the support of a strong group of Adopt-A-School partners. SunTrust Bank has provided generous support to CAPA activi­ties. Ticketmaster supports musical productions and offers student ticket incentives. Faculty and staff from The University of Memphis College of Communication and Fine Arts frequently visit class­rooms, and the department sponsors the annual Creative and Performing Arts Day on the university’s campus. Also, adopter John Michael Bailey, an Overton alumnus, is a strong supporter of the arts program.

WHBQ-TV is a valued partner working with the broadcasting program. The Orpheum and Stax Music Academy are also valued partners who make possible unique learning opportunities for Overton students.

Local experts and artists visiting the city frequent­ly bring their talents into the classroom at Overton and inspire students through a demonstration of their art. Funds from the Tennessee Arts Commission and others have helped bring into the school experts in sculpture, papermaking, fibers, stage makeup, set design, vocal techniques and sight reading, play writ­ing, jazz, tap, ballet, ethnic dance, music theory and composition.



Shelby County Schools does not discriminate in its programs or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, handicap/disability, sex, or age.  For more information, please contact the Office of Equity Compliance at (901) 416-6670.
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