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The Oxbow School is a private single semester arts school for high school juniors and seniors located in Napa, California,[2] sitting near an oxbow of the Napa River. High school juniors and seniors can choose to attend in either the fall or spring semester with visual arts and academic focus.

The school trains students in painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography and digital media while still satisfying high school graduation requirements and preparing them for college admittance.

The school was founded in 1997 and opened in 1999.

The school's philosophy encourages students to explore the materials, their selves, and their processes of thinking and creating. Many kids enter with high levels of art experience, many with none, and a range in between, however each group is encouraged to work together, challenge each other in any way possible, and for each individual to challenge themselves.[3]

Student Body and Life

About 60 percent of students at Oxbow have come from public schools, 40 percent from private schools. They have been divided about equally between students from California and students from all over the rest of the country. Some have had plenty of experience living away from home; for others, this is their first time. Some are already accomplished artists; some have never before made a painting or sculpture. Some want to pursue art, design, architecture, film, photography, and the computer as a career. Others are still open and searching. Some are athletes, musicians, writers; others are artists, thinkers, tinkerers and creators. Some love to hang out with friends; others prefer a more solitary life.

The Oxbow School is many students' first and only chance to live independently before college. Therefore, the person who first enters the school is often not the person faculty and other students will recognize by the conclusion of the program.


Oxbow's academic curriculum is nothing short of unique in its execution.[4] Students are required to take one Science and Humanities class each as part of the morning routine. Some students also hire Foreign Language and Math teachers, to prevent their skills from slipping during the semester away. The school is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and AdvancEd.[1]

Physical Education is also a required course. In PE, students' choices include Extreme Hiking, Biking, Gardening, Walking,Running, and Soccer.

Field Trips and Artist Residency

Occasionally, the students may be taken on field trips to nearby popular cities, such as San Francisco and Berkeley. Past groups have gone to the De Young Museum, and the San Francisco Center for the Book (SFCB).

Established artists often visit Oxbow as featured lecturers, such as The Art Guys, Mary Austin, Kathleen Burch of SFCB, and David Best.

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