In an announcement on October 2, 2007, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings named Ascension School of Oak Park a Blue Ribbon School, one of the most prestigious education awards in the country. In addition to the outstanding test scores of its students, Ascension was able to draw on the strength of its fine arts program in its application.
The Art program gives all students experience in working with materials, expressing themselves though projects and learning about artists. Older students improve their work, study the masters and enjoy creating art in a studio dedicated to art. 8th graders are guided by Mrs. Pesce and docents when they visit the Art Institute of Chicago.
The Music program provides opportunities for students to discover the elements of music through playing classroom instruments, singing, creating music by notating, composing and arranging, learning about music history and composers, listening and experiencing live music. Mrs. Creed organizes field trips to live performances by the Concordia Wind Symphony (grade 4) and Lyric Opera of Chicago (grade 7).
Dancing is included at all levels in Music class. Mrs. Creed provides instruction in American play-party games and folk dances, using extensive materials to give students a grounding in Dance terms and styles, rhythm and movement. Students perform in class and at an annual Dance presentation by grades 1 - 8. Students create dances in class and attend a live dance performance in 5th grade.
Students are introduced to acting through literature in the primary grades, including Reader's Theater and short plays in classrooms. Many teachers take their students on field trips to live theater. Mrs. Creed incorporates acting using stories that are performed with musical accompaniment. In 6th grade, Language Arts students attend plays at area theaters and perform Greek plays on stage, in costume. Mrs. Creed ensures that 6th graders and 8th graders study musical theater and attend a live theater performance; 7th graders study Opera: drama in music, and attend an live opera. Drama Club is an extracurricular opportunity for student actors, moderated by Mrs. Lippi, who produces an directs two plays a year.