Coronado School of Arts

For more than two decades the Coronado School of the Arts has served as an arts catalyst helping some of Coronado’s and San Diego’s most creative and talented young people to channel their passions and talents into disciplined skills for stage and studio. With advanced instruction in instrumental music, dance, musical theatre and drama, technical theatre, and digital and visual arts, the school helps some 200 scholar artists each year to bring their acts to professional levels.


CoSA Advanced Jazz Ensemble

The CoSA Advanced Jazz Ensemble of Kameron Sanders, drums; Evan Agarwal, bass; Stephen Leonard, tenor saxophone; and Melanie Johnson, alto saxophone; shows mastery of a demanding jazz standard at the school’s Spring Recital.


Embedded within Coronado High School, the conservatory provides intensive instruction, led by artists and industry professionals. Admission is competitive. Students audition or submit portfolios as part of their application. The program is clearly for committed, dedicated students. The CoSA portion of a student’s day often begins when other CHS students are heading home.

Classical guitar player

Classical guitar player Michael Storm performs Un Dia de Noviembre.

“Through intensive arts study — three hours each day after other classes — students not only learn their own art form but they master valuable life skills, like time management, collaboration, portfolio preparation and critical thinking,” says Shane Schmeichel, CoSA’s Director and an Assistant Principal at Coronado High School. “They learn how to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.”

The work is not just clinical. Student artists perform and exhibit regularly on the stages of Coronado High School and at events and galleries throughout the community and beyond.


CHS String Ensemble

The CHS String Ensemble of Aurora Czajkowski, violin; Rebecca Smith, Julianna Volta and Ruby Marrujo, cellos; and Sebastian Sanchez, bass; perform Vivaldi’s Cello Concerto in C minor.


“I’ve definitely learned how to be more professional,” says pianist Grace Weisbrod, a senior from Coronado who has been a CoSA music student for all four years of high school. “Before CoSA, I had no idea how to act in front of an audience or how to present myself to a client. Now I am much more confident.”

Bass guitar player Evan Agarwal credits CoSA with helping him to grow as a musician. “The coaches they bring in would be hard for me to get on my own,” says Agarwal a high school senior and Mission Hills resident who is completing four years’ study at CoSA this year. “One of the most valuable parts of the program was being able to work with different types of musicians, not just jazz musicians but classical musicians and singers.”

Melanie Johnson, a junior from La Mesa, also serves high praise for CoSA’s ability to train across genres. Johnson came to the program as an aspiring songwriter but soon developed into a multifaceted talent. “I auditioned on piano,” she recalls. But when she arrived at CoSA, she found that her ability to play alto saxophone was beneficial to the CoSA jazz ensemble. “I’m a piano player and songwriter and I’ve been able to develop that but I also got to learn jazz. It’s like songwriting. You get to improvise and make it your own and make it completely different every time.”

Look for Johnson and Agarwal when the CoSA Advanced Jazz ensemble takes the Spreckels Park stage in our opening concert this year. They will be part of the CoSA Musical Review, a show that will include members of the instrumental music, musical theatre and drama, and dance programs as well as ensembles from other Coronado Schools programs.

The instrumental music program offers tracks in jazz and classical music. In addition to preparing for recitals and other performances, CoSA music students study theory, improvisation, composition and other disciplines.

Each year the school hosts the annual Coronado Jazz Fest, one of the premier regional competitions of high school and college jazz musicians. CoSA musicians have a history of earning high honors in the festival.

The musical theatre and drama program provides students with in-depth instruction in acting, singing and dancing. Performance opportunities come with the company’s spring and fall musical productions, which have included such productions as Catch Me If You Can, Legally Blonde, Chicago, Big Fish, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), Singin’ in the Rain, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Laramie Project, 42nd Street, The Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Grapes of Wrath and The Wedding Singer.


Coronado's Seventh Street

Coronado School of the Arts musicians Melanie Johnson and Evan Agarwal warm up on Coronado’s Seventh Street before the Spring Recital.


Photos: Mitch Mitchell