Mission And History

Our Mission

Focus on the Arts is dedicated to sparking innovation, and creating new ways of thinking and viewing the world, for the students at Highland Park High School and our broader community. This multi-day Festival allows direct interaction and hands-on experience, working beside and learning from acclaimed professional artists from across multiple disciplines.

The benefits of exposure to the arts cannot be overstated. Students who have exposure to culture and arts education do better in school and in life. Study and after study also prove that people who attend live performance events are happier, more connected to others, and live longer than people who do not.

FOCUS on the ARTS is proud to have inspired thousands of students since its inception in 1967 and has helped create the next generation of both artists and creative thinkers who can help shape the future.

A FOCUS event is currently in the planning stages for our sister school, Deerfield High School.

Our History

In 1964, Highland Park High School through the visionary efforts of Dr. John W. Price, Shirley M. Hartz, and Ruth Esserman developed a program that would expose students and the community to quality visual and performing arts.

The goal was to build an appreciation and understanding of the arts and art professionals by the students and the community of Highland Park. Thanks to the twenty years of leadership by retired coordinator & HPHS visual art teacher, Ann Slavick, FOCUS has grown to include communication arts and more cutting edge artists. By showcasing the talents of our own high school students, FOCUS has created the opportunity for students to work side by side with professionals in their field of expertise.

FOCUS is clearly a collaboration of the city, school, students, staff, and community members. It is our hope that your discoveries at FOCUS will ignite a spark in you that will fuel your lifelong journey in the arts – whether it be as an artist or arts supporter!

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