Academy of the Arts

  • The Fullerton Union High School Academy of the Arts

    Mission Statement of the Academy of the ArtsAcademy of the Arts Logo

    The Mission of the Academy of the Arts is to provide an elevated and accelerated program to students in north Orange County who have an exceptional need, interest, or talent in the arts.

    History of the Academy of the Arts

    In 1990, Principal Ed Shaw had a vision to make Fullerton Union High School the center for arts education not only in Fullerton but in the greater north Orange County area.  He believed that because the Fullerton Community had such strong arts as part of its history and current structure, and because FUHS was the flagship school of the district, that we needed to create something special.

    Over the next five years we focused on growing our arts offerings, strengthening each of the arts disciplines, and beginning the talks about creating a “school within a school” at FUHS.  In 1996, under the leadership of Principal Cindi Ranii, the FJUSHD Board of Trustees along with Superintendent Jones, green-lighted the proposal to establish the Academy of the Arts at Fullerton Union High School.  Announcements were made, publicity went out, and we welcomed or first group of “Academy” freshmen in the fall of the 1997…the Class of 2001.  

    The programs continued to grow and it became apparent that a support organization was also necessary.  In the fall of 2000, the Fullerton Academy of the Arts Foundation was formed as a non-profit 501 c.3 tax exempt organization for the purpose of supporting the mission of the Academy of the Arts. Over the years the FAAF has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Visual and Performing Arts programs at FUHS, as they still do today.

    In 2013 the program was expanded to respond to the needs of our students.  For the first time, students could earn a double academy cord for completing two areas, and the new “Triple Threat Performer” pathway saw the group of graduates earn the coveted triple cord.

    Graduates of the Fullerton Academy of the Arts have gone on to some of the most prestigious schools of higher learning in the country, as well as followed pathways through community colleges, local universities, conservatories, and apprentice programs.  They are working professionals in both the Performing Arts and Visual Arts, and many have pursued pathways they never anticipated to follow until their experience in the Academy of the Arts changed their lives.

    Dr. Adrienne Brundage, a graduate of the FUHS Academy of the Arts, and now Professor of Entomology and Forensics at Texas A&M University, says this about her high school education and the skills she learned in the Academy of the Arts:  

    “I have found that a traditional science education leaves the graduated scientist without a grasp of effective communication. Effective science communication is, at its core, a grasp and expression of the emotions. None of my biology, chemistry, calculus, or entomology courses trained me how to effectively express this emotion and connect with other humans. My music, theater, and art classes, however, did just that. This emotional communication pairs perfectly with scientific knowledge, especially when attempting to convince a federal board or private company to part with millions of dollars for further scientific research. I am able to think beyond the immediate and obvious use of any one piece of scientific knowledge, and apply science in new and different ways that one day may change the world. My creative thinking and ability to effectively communicate that thinking has netted the university grant money from sources long thought to be a dead end.

    Allow me to be more specific about how I use my arts education in my day-to-day job. I work as an expert witness. I routinely need to take high-level scientific concepts and explain them to members of a jury, a judge, and counsel. I have watched as other scientists have struggled through this process, becoming mired in jargon and complex concepts difficult for even trained professionals to understand. I am able to draw on my theater background, however, and explain these same concepts using visual touch stones and common language. I can also “think on the spot,” so to speak, and I don’t become flustered when presenting in front of a large group of people (an audience, if you will). Questions thrown at me on the witness stand are nothing compared to my improv courses, or having to work around a dropped line or forgotten blocking on stage. This same performance ability has earned me the top rated professor spot at Texas A&M University, where I routinely teach complex science to hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students each semester. I would never have developed this creativity without my high school arts training, and would not have a place at this university without it”.

    The Fullerton Academy of the Arts … where all students are welcome in a place where we provide an elevated and accelerated arts program to students in the north Orange County area that have an exceptional need, interest, or talent in the arts.

Visual Arts Contacts

  • Maggie Crail

    Visual Arts Department Chair
    Foundation - AP Photography, Visual Arts IB

    Scott Hudson

    3D Design, AP Studio Art, Communication Design, Drawing & Painting

    Gabby Kudron

    Foundation - AP Photography, Visual Arts IB

    Jason Hess



Performing Arts Contacts

  • Michael Despars, M.A.

    Performing Arts Department Chair




    Stacey Kikkawa

    Vocal Music/Piano


    Andrea Oberlander



    Troy Trimble, M.A.

    Instrumental Music/AP Music Theory


    Adjunct Faculty

    Amelia Thompson- Collaborative Artist/Accompanist 


    Genni Klein - Director and Dialect Coach

    Instrumental Music

    Rachel Yoo and Melissa Perez - Color Guard Instructors

    Tony T. Nguyen - Percussion Instructor, Field Show Design

    Ryan Choe and Abby Griffin - Front Ensemble Technicians

    Michael Russell and Michael Nguyen - Band Visual Instructors