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 former CCSA teachers, Rich Hanel and Linda Emerick. 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 Cab Calloway Fund 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 2017, CCSA celebrated its 25th 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.
Calloway’s Mission Statement: Cab Calloway School of the Arts invites students who demonstrate artistic interest and potential to engage in a rigorous curriculum where arts and academics combine to cultivate the development of independent investigation, critical and creative thinking, and the innovative application of acquired skills. Our graduates will demonstrate a mastery of defined skills that will enable them to be productive, self-directed, life-long learners who appreciate and respect diversity. Each student must apply to the school and skills assess in one or two areas of the arts. CCSA offers nine different major areas of study: Dance, Theatre Arts, Visual Arts, Digital Communication Arts, Instrumental Music, Vocal Music, Piano, Strings and Technical Theatre (HS Only).
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.
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.”