The concept of CCSA was developed by a group of Red Clay School District parents interested in providing their children with an excellent academic education infused with the arts. The group presented the idea to the Red Clay Consolidated School District, and they supported the idea from the beginning.
The community also embraced this endeavor, and several Delaware teachers took part in the creation of the school, including Rich Hanel and Linda Emerick, who still teach at CCSA. Local arts and education activists were recruited to begin a Board of Directors for the school, and soon after, Cabella Calloway Langsam, Cab Calloway’s daughter, became the first board president.
The school opened in September, 1992, as the Creative and Performing Arts Middle School. The high school program was added in 1997, and the first senior class graduated in June 2000.
In 2007, CCSA celebrated its 15th year in existence.
Cab Calloway School of the Arts
Cab Calloway School of the Arts (CCSA) is the premiere public school with an arts-based curriculum in the state of Delaware. Founded in 1992 by a group of parents seeking quality education in a motivating environment, the school is part of the Red Clay Consolidated School District (RCCSD). Named after the American jazz icon, Cab Calloway, CCSA provides both academic and arts education for students in grades 6-12.
The mission of CCSA is twofold. For middle school students—to provide a quality education, both academically and artistically, for those who have a desire to explore the creative and performing arts. For high school students—to provide young people from diverse backgrounds with intensive training in the arts in the context of an exemplary, comprehensive, academic high school curriculum that will prepare them for success in higher education and employment. Each student must apply to the school and skills asses in two areas of the arts. CCSA offers six different major areas of study: Dance, Drama, Visual Arts, Communication Arts, Instrumental Music and Vocal Music.
How CCSA was named
Cab Calloway and his wife, Nuffie, moved to Delaware around the same time Cabella became involved with Delaware’s premiere arts school. He took an active interest in the mission of the school and was there to cut the ribbon at the grand opening in November, 1992. One year later, the school was officially renamed to honor Cab Calloway. Cab Calloway supported the school in multiple ways, and took a particular interest in the “Grand Finale,” the event celebrating the conclusion of students’ middle school years.
After Cab Calloway’s death in 1994, Nuffie and Cabella continued the family’s strong involvement with the school community.
The Cab Calloway Medal has been awarded yearly at the Eighth Grade Graduation, and his since grown to embrace two high school graduates each year, as well. Our school is one of three beneficiaries of the Cab Calloway Foundation, and the beneficiary of an endowed scholarship fund set up by MBNA to honor Cab Calloway.
Our ties to Wilmington High School
In 1871, the first public high school in New Castle County opened its doors. Four years later, Wilmington High School graduated its first class of eleven boys and seven girls. Wilmington High resided in a building on Delaware Avenue for 59 years before moving to its current campus location at the intersection of DuPont Road and Lancaster Pike.
When the new building opened its doors in 1960, it was the largest high school in the state. To preserve some of its rich history, remnants of the former Wilmington High campus were brought to the new building. The original granite cornerstone dated 1899 and some wrought ironwork were prominently displayed in the courtyard. The marble plaque honoring alumni who died in World War II found its permanent home in the theatre lobby.
Class sizes continued to drop at Wilmington High, however, and the school began to lose students as the surrounding suburbs expanded. To re-energize the educational standing of the campus, the Red Clay Consolidated School District allowed two new schools, Cab Calloway School of the Arts and the Charter School of Wilmington, to call the Wilmington campus home.
After 38 years on DuPont Road, Wilmington High graduated its last class in 1999.
Wilmington High’s reincarnation as two vibrant schools will preserve the WHS tradition of excellence and history of achievement. The sterling academic achievements already obtained by the new schools follow directly in the footsteps of their predecessor. As the News Journal said in 1996, “Wilmington High’s future will be on [the]cutting edge of 21st century education…Now it is home to vibrant new educational programs and its promise is boundless.”