Combined Shape Copy Arrow Button Path 2 Arrow Button Copy bg-arch UX / AV Descriptions icon-a11y UX / Arch UX / ASL UX / Calendar UX / Close UX / Location icon-pin icon-stl UX / Time UX / Wheelchair Facebook logo-instagram Logo / STLSF logo-twitter logo-youtube

We envision an innovative partnership between SLPS, local cultural/heritage institutions and community organizations in The Ville that offers Sumner students rigorous and engaging training in the Arts & Activism informed by a foundational understanding of St. Louis Black History centered around The Ville and Sumner High School.

This sharing of resources and expertise will allow Sumner High School to grow into a vibrant school, firmly embedded in – and serving – The Ville, while also attracting talented students from all over the region looking to study with professional practitioners. Sumner High School will foster the next generation of trailblazing cultural leaders and community activists.

This vision was informed by student essays and surveys collected in 2020 that called for expanded elective offerings aligned with their interests, particularly in singing, dancing, acting and visual art – as well as opportunities to volunteer and organize/advocate. It was developed in collaboration with Ville-based housing, faith, arts and government leaders.

Board of Education Vote 

The St. Louis Board of Education unanimously voted on March 9, 2021 to keep historic Sumner High School in The Ville open in direct response to the Recovery Plan prepared by 4thVilleSTL, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, Sumner Renaissance, Sumner PRFC and Market Analytics LLC  in partnership with Superintendent Adams. Full pres release.

Recovery Overview

Local arts organizations will partner with Sumner leadership to deliver intensive learning in Drama, Visual Art, Dance and Music during the school day starting in Fall 2021. Courses will align with state standards and earn elective credits. In the Spring semester, interested seniors will also be able to pursue internships at partnering professional arts organizations. In the formative years of the plan, these initial Arts pathways will be developed while partnerships and pathways in Activism will be added.

To assure community grounding, the partners will work with a community-based organization to hire one or more program directors tasked with integrating the elective studios into the school and curriculum. The program director(s) will report to their respective organization(s) and SLPS. Additionally, they will be supported by an Advisory Board made up of representatives from The Ville community, Sumner alumni, partner organizations and local leaders.

Full Plan

Questions? Contact us at

In the News:

December 8, 2021 – “Small but spirited, Sumner High choir finds hard-fought harmony” via St. Louis Public Radio

November 4, 2021 – “Arts are so important: Hollywood casting director visits Sumner High School” via KSDK

August 27, 2021 – “Historic Sumner High School Has Its First Choir In Decades” via St. Louis Public Radio

March 9, 2021 – “Closing Sumner High School Is ‘Erasing American History,’ Supporters Say” via St. Louis Public Radio

February 26, 2021 – ‘You cannot wipe the history out’ | The effort to revive a historic Black neighborhood in St. Louis” via KSDK

December 14, 2020 –  “Arts and culture leaders pen letter in support of sparing Sumner High School from closure” via STL Magazine

Community of Supporters

Charles Berry, Jr.
Alison & John Ferring
First Bank
Mont & Karen Levy
Missouri Arts Council
Penny Pennington
Regional Arts Commission
William E. Weiss Foundation