Alabama School of Fine Arts
The Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) is a public, partially residential high school located since 1993 on 8th Avenue North adjacent to Interstate 20/59 in the Cultural District of Birmingham. The school has an enrollment of approximately 350 students in grades 7 through 12. About 70 students live in on-campus dorms while the rest commute. Ann Florie is the interim executive director, serving since the retirement of Michael Meeks in 2019.
- The mission of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, a community of explorers, is to nurture impassioned students by guiding and inspiring them to discover and fulfill their individual creative abilities in an atmosphere distinguished by the fusion of fact and feeling, risk and reward, art and science, school and community.
ASFA is divided into one of six specialty programs: creative writing, music, dance, theater, visual arts, or mathematics and sciences. The five arts departments are among the most prestigious in the nation. The "Russell School of Mathematics and Sciences", added as an academic division in 1991, is also among the best of its kind. ASFA boasts one of the strongest academic core programs in Alabama, with 100% of ASFA students passing the Alabama graduation exam.
The Russell School of Mathematics and Science is the only specialty program that does not admit students below grade 8. Nevertheless, it is the largest program, with about 40-50% of the student body.
The school began in 1968 with grants by Governor Lurleen Wallace to Birmingham arts organizations for after-school instructional activities. After receiving legislative approval in 1971, the school grew quickly into a comprehensive arts institution. In 1976, the school created a private, non-profit support organization, the ASFA Foundation, to enlist private sector assistance to address school needs. The school’s Board of Trustees appoints members to the Foundation’s Board of Directors, which approves foundation policy and employs an Executive Director.
In 1985 the school was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to conduct a design competition for its new downtown campus.
Because ASFA is a public school funded by the legislature, students who are residents of Alabama pay no tuition. Out of state students are allowed to apply, and scholarships are available to help defray the cost of room and board for students who demonstrate financial need.
Admission into ASFA is highly competitive. Prospective students must first submit an application with test scores, transcripts, essays, and three letters of recommendation. Select students are then invited to audition for their chosen department. For the arts departments, audition is through performance, portfolios, and interview. For the math and science department, audition is through interview and two rounds of testing.
- Frank Adams, Jr (1990), health care consultant
- Hamilton Cleverdon (2007), composer
- Suzanne Collins (1980), television writer and novelist
- Hugo Fat, artist
- Drew Galloway, artist
- Jennifer Hale, voice actress
- Rachel Higgins, artist
- Ashley Jones (2008), poet
- Mark Kimbrell, guitarist
- Nyya Parson-Hudson, municipal court judge
- Maria Taylor, vocalist