As of the 2005-06 school year, the school had an enrollment of 668 students and 50.1 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student-teacher ratio of 13.3.
The school is designed to provide high quality education in an environment beneficial to a student's growing mind.
Mrs. Beverly Oliver came to SAA to serve as interim principal until the arrival of Mrs. Marcia Clanton from Hubert Middle School in February of 2000. Mrs. Clanton is described as the force behind the school's mission, curriculum, staffing and awards. In March 2006, Mrs. Clanton was promoted to executive director of all high schools in Savannah. Her replacement is long time SAA administrator Mrs. Odessa Richards.
Current assistant principals include Mrs. Lynette Angeloni, who comes from a similar school in Ohio, and Dr. Angie Lewis. SAA has only had three other assistant principals in its history, Mr. David Marshall, Mr. Travis Cowart, and Mrs. Odessa Richards, the current principal.
The Works Progress Administration, in the midst of the Great Depression, expressed interest in the site for use as the new Savannah High School. Permits were granted, construction began, and Savannah High School was dedicated on June 15, 1937.
After 61 years on Washington Avenue, Savannah High School classes were moved to a new building on Pennsylvania Avenue, leaving the structure available for the newly formed Savannah Arts Academy for the school year beginning August, 1998.
Incoming students are also required to audition for their chosen arts major, which can range from an on-the-spot demonstration (Music, Theatre and Dance) to creation of a portfolio (Visual and Communication Arts).
Beginning with the 2008.2009 school year, some spots at Savannah Arts Academy are being reserved for lower income students to help balance out the schools heavy caucasian population.
Additionally, students must perform ten hours of community service each year (twice the district mandate), maintain that 85% average, and have very good discipline. Each child's parents must also do a total of ten hours of service annually, but parent service can include attending performances or parent meetings.
The Communication Arts department offers intensive courses related to Information Technology and Broadcast/Video Production. As freshmen, students become proficient in basic computer applications and gain knowledge of the communication system through applying and transferring their academic knowledge and skills to a variety of interesting activities, problems, and settings. Next, students develop skills in information technology, software systems management, operating systems, data communications, and the Internet. Students explore their creativity when taking classes geared towards digital media production and web design. Broadcast and video production courses provide advanced training in video production techniques, including program production, editing, lighting, and graphics. Students in Communication Arts also have the opportunity to take Journalism I and II, which are the newspaper staff, and Journalism III and IV, which are yearbook staff.
Communication Arts majors are required to participate in Future Business Leaders of America. FBLA is an education association of students preparing for careers in business and business related fields. The mission of FBLA is to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs.
The Savannah Arts Academy dance department consists of approximately 60 students who are required to take technical training in ballet and modern, plus additional training in jazz, if interested. Students round out their total dance experience by engaging in two academic dance courses-- one year of dance history and one year of dance composition. The dance department traditionally performs in two large productions annually with dance works created by faculty, students and guest artists. Choreography is produced both in class and in afternoon rehearsals. There are also multiple opportunities for performing in venues from the fall Student Choreography Concerts to the large spring musical production, as well as touring local area schools and events. Each year interested dance students may attend the National High School Dance Festival and have the opportunity to work with local and national guest artists throughout the school year. Given the relatively small size of our department, students work closely with each other and faculty which allows for a great deal of personal interaction and growth.
The Music program at Savannah Arts Academy is a comprehensive program featuring instruction in winds, strings, percussion, piano and vocal music. Ensembles include String Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Concert Band, Jazz Band, Mixed Choruses, Men’s Choir, and Women’s Choir. There are a total of seven choruses at Savannah Arts Academy conducted by Diane Stallings. These include the SAA Chorale, Men's Choir, Skylarks, Women's Cantabile, Nova Singers, Women's Chamber/Honor Choir, and Mixed Chamber/Honor Choir. Our most achieved choirs are Skylarks and SAA Chorale. The faculty is a highly trained group of professional musicians still active as performers, clinicians and adjudicators. The program through the years has garnered every award available to it through the Georgia Music Educators Association.
Students who graduate from the program, electing to pursue music in higher education, have been awarded scholarships to the leading institutions in the country including Indiana University and Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Michael Hutchinson is the head of the instrumental groups, including the Silverwinds Ensemble, the Concert Ensemble, and the SkyeLite Jazz Band. The SkyeLite Jazz Band has performed in China, London, and Washington D.C. The Jazz Band was also invited to play at the National School Board Association's National Convention in San Francisco in April 2007. The Silverwinds Ensemble will also be combining with a band from California in order to travel to Australia in June 2008. The SkyeLite Jazz Band has also released two CD recordings.
The orchestral program is headed by professional trombonist Carl Polk. The program is one of few left in the city's public school system.
Students enrolling who are members of the Armstrong Atlantic Youth Orchestra or the Atlantic Chamber Orchestra and meet the academic requirements, the audition requirement for Savannah Arts is waived in recognition of the partnership for musical excellence in Chatham County GA. AAYO and ACO are member Orchestra's that are filled by recommendation including an intensive audition process and is sponsored by the music department at Armstrong Atlantic State University.
The Theatre Arts Department at the Savannah Arts Academy offers a comprehensive theatre education. Its mission is to foster talent and develop creativity through professional training and a wide variety of courses including: Drama Fundamentals, Acting I & II, Technical Theatre I & II, Acting III, Theatre History, Musical Theatre I & II, Technical Theatre III, a design course, and Advanced Drama, a performance group. Students have the opportunity to practice the skills learned in the classroom through after school productions, competitions and festivals. Besides Mrs. Verdis, the department faculty consists of Terresa Kizer (teaching Technical Theatre I, II, III, and Technical Theatre IV as well as Drama Fundamentals), and Mr. Lovett.
In 2007, Mr. Sebastian Verdis stepped down from his position as the Dean of Fine Arts, and teacher of Theatre History, at Savannah Arts Academy.
Savannah Arts Academy boasts three performance areas. The main theatre, The John Varnadoe Theatre at the front of the building was redone with the school-wide renovation, supplying a large stage, nice cloth theatre chairs, new carpeting, and wing space. The Black Box Theatre, which was once used to house "Works in Progress" as well as other school plays, has been retired from use due to a power line cut during the renovation, limiting the lighting grid of that room. It is now used as a theatre and communications classroom. The last space is mainly used for venues such as Beta Induction and lectures. It goes by the name, the Performance Hall.
The theatre shows that occur each year stick mainly to this schedule: The first show is always "Works in Progress", a reader's theatre production directed by Mrs. Verdis. The plays featured in the show are winners of a contest held in the Spring of the last school year. The big Fall show is usually a straight play (though this was diverted from in 2005's "Leader of the Pack" starring Aaren Keith and Jack Webber). Until the departure of Mr. Verdis in the 07-08 school year, "The 1940s Radio Show" was performed in the second quarter. In the second semester, the first show is always "A Night of One Acts". The way that the one-acts were staged changed drastically from the 2005-2006 school year to the 2006-2007 school year. Previously, students were allowed to pick their play, their cast, and their design, however, after a controversy over content in one of the plays arose, the productions became a class-based assignment, with teacher oversight. After the Night of One Acts, in the deep Spring, the musical is performed. A culmination of all of the academy's majors come together to perform the talents they have added onto during the year. Previous musicals include, "Once Upon a Mattress", "Leader of the Pack", "The Music Man", and "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown". The present musical is "Fiddler on the Roof".
AP Studio Art, AP European History, AP Art History, AP Music Theory, AP Biology, AP Physics, AP Calculus, AP Spanish, AP English (11th, 12th grade), AP Chemistry, AP U. S. History, and AP Environmental Science.