Historical Timeline of da Vinci Arts Middle School

da Vinci Arts Middle School is an arts focus school in Portland, Oregon.

1993-01-01 00:00:00

Ideas Form

A group forms to develop a proposal for an arts focused middle school. It primarily consists of parents whose children attend Buckman Arts Magnet Elementary School. Connie Cheifetz is recognized as one of the founders of da Vinci Arts Middle School. Connie worked at da Vinci and retired in 2015 but is still greatly involved with the school.

1995-09-01 00:00:00

School Board Approval

The PPS School board approves plans for da Vinci Arts Middle School, a middle school program with an arts focus.

1996-09-01 00:00:00

da Vinci Opens

da Vinci Arts Middle School opens it’s doors to 140 students in 6th & 7th grade. Nearly all students that applied are accepted. da Vinci has a shared principal from Hosford MS, Frank Scotto, plus ‘lead teacher’, Jane Ferguson who half time teaches and works half time as an administrator. Teachers work without a planning period to keep class sizes down.

1997-09-14 11:12:42

School Moves Forward

PPS District Arts Administrator, Paula Kinney is da Vinci’s first on-site administrator. Private community fundraising generates enough money to create a dance class space (sprung floor, baffles, mirrors) in portable E.

1997-11-21 11:46:21

First Full-Scale Production!

da Vinci's first full-scale drama production - Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Jane Ferguson

1998-09-14 11:12:42

First Principal is appointed to da Vinci Arts Middle School

Tom Breuckman is appointed as da Vinci's first principal.

1998-09-14 11:12:42

Murals added to school grounds

Portland artist Tom Cramer works with students to create colorful murals throughout the school.

1999-09-01 00:00:00

Shannon Wasson

Shannon Wasson begins working at da Vinci during Fall of 1999.

1999-09-14 11:12:42

Excellence in Education award

Da Vinci staff member Dan Evans receives an Excellence in Education award from the PPS Foundation.

2000-04-03 00:00:00

Excellence in Education Awards

Two da vinci staff, Doug Ingamells and Connie Cheifetz, are awarded Excellence in Education awards from the PPS Foundation.

2000-04-28 00:00:00


Students reinterpret Newsies, for the stage - da Vinci's first musical, directed by Jane Ferguson. Students pictured on the poster: Jake Reckford, Sam Rogers, Devon Golaszewski, Blake Lowell, and Hayley Sales

2000-04-28 00:00:00

da Vinci wins Regional Arts and Culture Council Grant

da Vinci is a recipient of the 1999 - 2000 Regional Arts and Culture Council School Incentive grant.

2000-05-03 00:00:00

First Dance Recital

Under the direction of Kristen Brayson and Elena Carter, da Vinci Arts has it's first dance recital.

2000-06-01 11:12:42

First da Vinci Yearbook Printed

2001-04-01 15:05:16


The annual Ashland trip started in 2001 and continues today.

2001-05-03 00:00:00

Bye Bye Birdie

da Vinci Production of Bye Bye Birdie May 3rd - 5th

2001-09-01 00:00:00

Da Vinci breaks ground on the Water Garden

Da Vinci breaks ground on the Water Garden, thanks to Science teacher Dan Evans’ hard work.

2003-01-06 00:00:00

a Vinci moves from a program to a school

School board approves da Vinci status change from a program to a school. This includes agreeing to move from a student population of 325 to 400+ over 3 years.

2003-12-03 23:52:43

Every Kid

da Vinci production of Every Kid

2004-04-22 00:00:00

Romeo and Juliet

da Vinci production of Romeo and Juliet

2004-12-03 23:52:43

Immigrant Dreams

da Vinci production of Immigrant Dreams

2005-01-01 00:00:00

da Vinci Teacher Receives Award!

da Vinci staff Mary Morris is awarded Middle School Art Educator of the year by Oregon Art Education Association

2006-02-04 20:59:22

Dance Teacher Elena Carter Passes Away

Impeccable, elegant, passionate, generous, demanding, radiant, funny. These are some of the words that dance fans and fellow dancers here and elsewhere have been using to describe Elena Carter, who died on Saturday after a long battle against cancer. She was 57. "There was a grand ballerina (in) her fragile body," Elena Dominguez, Carter's friend and fellow dancer at Dance Theatre of Harlem, said in a recent interview. Portland first saw Carter dance in 1980, when Mary Folberg's Evergreen Presents brought the Dance Theatre of Harlem to town. Carter was memorable in "A Streetcar Named Desire," Valerie Bettis' modern dance version of Tennessee Williams' play, portraying Blanche's caught-in-the-middle little sister. That was no mean achievement, because her training in her native Mexico City was in classical ballet at a school associated with London's Royal Academy of Dance and with Cuban teachers who were Russian-trained. One had only to see Carter walk down the street, feet turned out, shoulders down, spine perpendicular to the sidewalk, to identify her as the classical ballerina personified. Nevertheless, as Iago's vicious wife in Jose Limon's "The Moor's Pavane," as Aurora in "The Sleeping Beauty," or as Sanguinic in George Balanchine's "Four Temperaments," Carter was the embodiment of a princess, a peasant girl and (with "Four Temperaments") a state of mind: consistently an eloquent, generous dancer in both narrative and abstract works. Carter, who was married 16 years to Willamette University law professor Dean M. Richardson, was an integral part of Portland's dance world for more than 20 years. In 1983 she and then-husband and dancing partner Joseph Wyatt moved here from New York to teach in the Jefferson High School dance program. Carter was expecting their daughter, Jessica, who now dances with Chicago's Luna Negra Dance Theater. Following Jessica's birth, the couple joined Pacific Ballet Theatre as principal dancers. Carter was at her peak then, bringing to Portland audiences and, more important, to her students the bone-deep memory of a classical tradition that in all its fine details can only be transmitted from dancer to dancer. Carter began her professional dancing career in Mexico with the national company. In a production of "Giselle," cast and coached by the great Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso, Carter --5 foot 3 inches tall and weighing in at 103 pounds --was plucked out of the corps to dance Myrtha, the Queen of the Wilis, in recognition of her technique and dramatic abilities. One of the most terrifying ghosts in ballet, Myrtha is usually danced by a ballerina much bigger physically than Carter. By the time she joined Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1974, Carter had performed in a broad range of choreography. With the New York company, Carter stood out as a traditional classical dancer, but she was not getting the opportunity to dance the great roles in full-length ballets. So, in 1977, she and Wyatt returned to Mexico, where, with the Compania Nacional de Danza, she danced principal roles in "Coppelia," "Swan Lake," "Sleeping Beauty," "Les Sylphides" and "Giselle." Carter and Wyatt returned to Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1980 as principal dancers. Dominguez, also from Mexico, had just joined the corps, and the two women became fast friends. "We had a cultural connection," Dominguez said, "and the same way of approaching ballet. Elena would argue with (choreographer and artistic director) Arthur Mitchell about his approach to classics like 'Giselle' and 'Swan Lake.' She thought it was too much pizazz." Carter knew exactly when to lay on the pizazz and when not to. She brought pure line and decorum to traditional roles in her performances with Pacific Ballet Theatre (one of the predecessors of Oregon Ballet Theatre), dancing in Portland's first home-grown "Nutcracker" in 1984 as the Snow Queen and the Sugarplum Fairy, and in many classical grand pas de deux. To "Coppelia," Portland Ballet Theatre's second evening-length production, in 1986, she brought extraordinary comic timing to Swanhilda, the bold girl who is jealous of a doll. Carter's partner in "Coppelia" was Wyatt, who says that at Dance Theatre of Harlem she was "everybody's favorite partner. She was little and the easiest to lift, and she was always on the music, both physically and emotionally." To her students --at Jefferson High School, Vancouver School of Performing Arts and the professional schools of Pacific Ballet Theatre, Oregon Ballet Theatre and recently the Pacific Artists Dance Center --Carter brought clear technique, respect for tradition, musicality and a passion for teaching that equaled her passion for dance. "Not every dancer takes pleasure in teaching," Dance Theatre of Harlem's Mitchell said in an interview shortly before Carter's death. "When she came back (to New York) to teach two summers ago, she was a real inspiration to me and to the students in the school, who had never seen a real ballerina with brown skin like her. She loved to teach." Her students reciprocated and used the things she said as touchstones in their lives. For OBT's Alison Roper, who has a young son, Carter "was far more than a dance teacher. She was a shining example not only as a dancer and teacher, but as a loving mother and a kind and nurturing person." "Use whatever words you want about Elena," Mitchell said, "and they will all be true." Grace, in all its meanings, is just one that comes to mind. Carter is survived by her husband, Dean M. Richardson, daughter Jessica A. Wyatt, mother Catalina Romero de Carter, brother Mario Carter and sisters Patricia Gonzalez and Martha Carter-Balske. A scholarship fund in her name is being established at Oregon Ballet Theatre.

2007-04-19 22:34:50


da Vinci production of Faust, a Rock Opera

2009-05-28 08:30:35

Shining a (Natural) Light on Green Schools

da Vinci Arts Middle School is recognized in the New York Times for the Evans-Harvard High Performance Classroom

2009-06-01 00:00:00

Capstone 2009

Click on the "Find out more" link to see photos of da Vinci Capstone projects from 2009.

2009-09-01 00:00:00

Completion of the Evans-Harvard Music Conservatory

September 2009, the Evans-Harvard High Performance Classroom at da Vinci Middle School construction is finished.

2009-11-13 00:00:00

Burnt Offerings

a da Vinci production based on Dungeons and Dragons, Burnt Offerings

2010-04-09 00:00:00


Fables, an original rock opera by da Vinci students. Directed by Tom Beckett, Dave Myers and Diana Rowey.

2010-06-01 00:00:00

Capstone 2010

Click on "Find out more" link to see photos da Vinci Capstone 2010 projects.

2010-11-12 19:32:26


da Vinci Production of Hamlet directed by Tom Beckett

2011-04-09 00:00:00

Once Upon a Mattress J-Pop Style

Once Upon a Mattress J-Pop Style, a Harajuku interpretation of Once Upon a Mattress

2011-05-27 00:00:00

A learning garden springs up where a vacant lot used to be

A learning garden springs up where a vacant lot used to be.

2012-08-01 15:05:16

Construction of Connie Cheifetz Art Gallery begins

Using auction funds, work on the da Vinci Art Gallery begins. Upon Connie's retirement, da Vinci Middle School renames the gallery in honor of Connie Cheifetz.

2012-08-01 15:05:16

New principal for da Vinci MS

Fred Locke's official appointment as principal at da Vinci

2013-02-27 00:00:00

Spaced Out Rock Opera

da Vinci students and staff publish a double CD and present a live rock opera.

2013-08-01 15:05:16

New Assistant Principal

Alicia McMillen joins us from New York City as assistant principal at da Vinci.

2014-05-27 15:05:16

National Gold Medal Winner

Two da Vinci national Scholastic Art Award winners honored at Carnegie Hall with their work displayed in the National Student Exhibition at the Parsons New school for Design in New York. Amelia Muldrew won gold for her sculpture Mad Bunny, anand Alisa Folen won silver for her photograph Captured."

2014-05-30 00:00:00

Two Sisters, One an Amputee, Use Dance to 'Speak' Without a Voice

Documentary follows sisters Kiera Brinkley and Uriah Boyd through dance, disability and search for identity

2014-06-01 05:26:06

Students Protest Changes to Curriculum

da Vinci Middle School students protest proposed changes affecting core curriculum.

2015-03-05 23:52:43


Click on the "Find out more" link to see photos from this production of Seussical, Jr.

2016-06-01 20:48:21

Capstone 2016

Click on the "Find out more" link to see photos of 8th grade Capstone projects.

Historical Timeline of da Vinci Arts Middle School

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