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Jim Marvin, Performing Arts Department Chair

We’re not training you to be art majors but to be people that are always participating in the arts in your life. 
Discover the joy of acting, singing, and making music, or performing magic behind the scenes.

Performing Arts

It’s “finals” time in drama and music, and for once, you can—and should—get help from your classmates. Whether in an Evensong performance at National Cathedral, a chamber orchestra concert, or a Shakespeare play, showing what you’ve learned has never been so fun.

Creativity, collaboration, technique, and self-expression all take the spotlight in the performing arts curriculum, providing for the development of individual talents and teamwork. All groups perform in a variety of settings, on and off campus, and students who participate in more than one ensemble earn an honors designation.

Beyond our courses, there are lots of opportunities to play an instrument or hone your acting skills. Join the cast or crew of the fall play or spring musical, or write or direct an original one-act play for our student-run festival. (Participating in productions carries fine arts credit.) You can share your musical talents in chapel, take part in extracurricular groups from improv to gospel, or help organize the semiannual coffeehouses that celebrate all things art.

Not interested in performing? We offer classes—on topics from digital audio composition to pop music—with no stage fright required. But there’s really no reason to be nervous at SSSAS, where every performance is among friends.

An Enthusiastic Foundation

The performing arts program at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes is part of a well-balanced JK-12 curriculum. In the Lower School students take part in the Orff-Schulwerk Music Program. The program consists of singing, movement, rhythm, poetry, drama, finger plays, sound awareness, musical notation and fundamentals, improvisation, instrument identification, and learning to play the recorder and other melodic/rhythmic percussion instruments. There is a fifth grade Saints Choir that participates in our winter and spring choral concerts.

A Place for Everyone

The Upper School performing arts program provides more challenging performing opportunities and the development of individual talents. In addition to pursuing band, orchestra, and singing, students can join the jazz ensemble. Whether a student is taking a performing arts class or not, there are opportunities to perform in front of the audience or discover a new passion behind the scenes. Students who have never acted before take to the stage, man the spotlights, join the set building team, or become experts at the sound board. There are many different opportunities to get involved! Learn more about the Stage One Players.

Opportunities to Perform

List of 3 items.

  • Lower School Performers

    The fifth grade chorus performs in our winter and spring concerts with chorus students in grades 6-12.
    The entire Lower School performs in our Christmas concert in December and Grandparents and Special Friends’ Day concert in May.
    The fifth grade works on a production of “The Magic Pot,” including designing the costumes and set, writing the script, and even choreographing the dancing. They perform it for their kindergarten buddies, other Lower School classes, and their parents.
    Our After School Enrichment Program often includes performing arts options, such as Musical Theater, Much Ado About Shakespeare, Puppet Power, Designing Dance, and Hip Hop.
  • Middle School Performers

    Middle School students taking orchestra, band, or chorus classes perform in our winter and spring concerts, where they often have the opportunity to play with our Upper School musicians.

    Middle School orchestra, band, and chorus students perform in the District X Festivals in Virginia.
    Sixth, seventh, and eighth grade drama students perform short plays for their families and friends in our Chapel/Performing Arts Center (CPAC) in the fall and the spring.
    All Middle School students (and faculty) are invited to perform at the incredible Middle School Saints Got Talent show in the CPAC. This event is an annual favorite that always includes some surprises, like a faculty member who could balance a ladder on his forehead!
    Middle School students may also perform at the Middle School Multicultural Night. Performances have included Irish dancing, instrumental and vocal performances, ballet and modern dance, poetry readings, magic, and more.
  • Upper School Performers

    Upper School musicians perform at our orchestra, band, chorus, and jazz ensemble concerts given in the winter and spring.

    Upper School orchestra, band, chorus, and jazz students perform in the District X Festivals in Virginia.

    In October and January Upper School musicians can participate in the Coffeehouse evenings in the Wills Library. Sponsored by the school's literary arts magazine, Fire & Stones, Coffeehouse Nights are intimate evenings in which students can share music, poetry, and art with the community. All Upper School students are invited to perform. The evening begins with a programmed set and concludes with an "open mic" session. 

    All Upper School students are invited to audition for the fall play in November and spring musical in March, with no past experience necessary. Students who are not inclined to be under the spotlights, can choose to be behind one! There are many, many interesting jobs behind the scenes.
    Upper musicians may also play in the spring musical pit orchestra.
    Students step up each year to perform at the Upper School Multicultural Night in February, including performance poetry; modern, hip hop, and jazz dance groups; blues, rock and jazz bands; instrumental and vocal performances; stand-up comedy; magic; soliloquies, and more.

    In April there is another opportunity for Upper School students to perform at our Evening of the Arts, an event that showcases both our visual and performing arts.

    At the end of April Upper School students produce the One-Act Play Festival performed in our Black Box Theater, including writing the scripts, directing, acting, publicizing, and managing all the behind the scenes jobs.
    Musical students also contribute their talents to our weekly chapel services and special Lessons & Carols Christmas service, singing and playing songs in groups, duets, and solos.

    Performing Arts student clubs include the Drama Club, Improv Club, Boys & Girls Dance, 
    Gospel Club, and the Mantet and Sextet singers.

Building Skills and Confidence

In the Middle School the performing arts courses are more specialized and strengthen the disciplines introduced in the Lower School. Students can begin to focus on one discipline, with the option to choose chorus, drama, orchestra, or band. We encourage students to perform as frequently as possible to help them build their technique, confidence, critical-thinking skills, musicianship, and a sense of self-discipline and cooperation within a group. 

Lower School Performing Arts Faculty

List of 2 members.

  • Photo of Matthew Gehlhoff

    Mr. Matthew Gehlhoff 

    Performing Arts Teacher
  • Photo of Rebecca Gehlhoff

    Mrs. Rebecca Gehlhoff 

    Performing Arts Teacher

Middle & Upper School Music Faculty

List of 4 members.

  • Photo of Vaughn Ambrose

    Mr. Vaughn Ambrose 

    Performing Arts Teacher
  • Photo of Dallis Byrne

    Mrs. Dallis Byrne 

    Performing Arts Teacher
    (703) 212-2902
  • Photo of James Criswell

    Dr. James Criswell 

    Performing Arts Teacher
  • Photo of Christopher Gillespie

    Mr. Christopher Gillespie 

Middle & Upper School Drama Faculty

List of 2 members.

  • Photo of Lindsay Jagodowski

    Ms. Lindsay Jagodowski 

    Performing Arts Teacher
  • Photo of James Marvin

    Mr. James Marvin 

Age 3-Grade 12 coed Episcopal day school in Alexandria, Virginia


List of 3 items.

  • Lower School

    Age 3-Grade 5
    400 Fontaine Street
    Alexandria, Virginia 22302
  • Middle School

    Grades: 6-8
    4401 West Braddock Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304
  • Upper School

    Grades: 9-12
    1000 St. Stephen's Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304