Message from the President & Head of School


I recently made a presentation to a funder that I titled, “An Unusual Year or a New Normal?” In spite of extreme weather and man-made catastrophes, the class of 2019 reminded us of the great work we do year after year and the successes that our students experience as a result of the dedicated teachers who challenge and nurture them.

Highlights of the class of 2019 include acceptance to one hundred and eighteen colleges, universities, and conservatories; $7.1 million in college scholarships; and attendance at schools in the U.S., England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and New Zealand. Those students who have opted for a gap year have such diverse plans as studying eco-friendly textiles, pursuing work in the music and film industries, doing freelance writing, and living on an elephant reservation.

Traditionally, the senior class bestows a parting gift to the school. The class of 2019 gifted a Sustainability Manifesto that embraces the school’s powerful vision and is sure to propel the Idyllwild Arts community through mid-century and beyond.

“This sustainability manifesto is a call to action for our community to be a leader in sustainability in today’s tumultuous environment. Our students are more motivated than ever to make a difference. There is a desire to set things right, and to sustain life on earth and in our community. A life that is abundant, creative, and diverse.”

Two cornerstones of an Idyllwild Arts education are a standard of excellence and a willingness to engage deeply as a citizen and an artist. The students of Idyllwild Arts Academy have the intelligence and talent to study at numerous public and private high schools throughout the world. Students chose Idyllwild Arts because the education goes beyond art-making. This class joins artist and activist Shepard Fairey ‘88, collaborative artist Claire Chase ‘96, inventor Clayton Alexander ’94, and countless others who are using their Idyllwild Arts foundation to change perspectives and challenge the world around them.

Jason Jackson ’89, who served as this year’s Commencement speaker, said that after leaving Idyllwild Arts and attending Oberlin Conservatory, he found himself studying with modern jazz trombone pioneer J. J. Johnson. “I couldn’t believe I was sitting next to my idol,” Jackson commented. “He was such a humble man and it made me realize that we‘re all human.”

The class of 2019 is pursuing their wants and dreams and will surely find themselves face to face with the idols, giants, and leaders who have inspired them throughout their careers. When this inevitably occurs, our graduates will be confident, they will be humble, and they will rise to the call and make a difference in this world.


Pamela Jordan
President and Head of School