What’s Your Specialty?

One big reason students choose St. Paul Prep is the opportunity to earn an American high school diploma, which makes acceptance to an American university that much easier. At SPP, we take things one step further.

Our students have the opportunity to choose a specialized diploma, meaning students take classes in a specific area. At SPP, we offer STEM, Visual Arts, Global Leadership, and International Business specialized programs. Below is a breakdown of what students can expect from each field of study.




Want to master your critical thinking and problem solving skills? Already an expert in these areas? Then our STEM option is for you! This rigorous course of study will prepare students to succeed in a 21st century workforce, at college and beyond!

Featuring advanced classes in math, science, engineering, and technology, this diploma option is open to all students.

International Business


This diploma specialization introduces students to the complexities and relationships between different countries’ political, economic, and business practices and policies. Courses in this diploma path look at everything from the impact of international business to ethics to import/exports.

The curriculum prepares students for university-level business courses, and gives our students a leg-up on the highly competitive and constantly changing global economic environment.

Visual Arts


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Create products with a purpose with the Visual Arts diploma specialization. Featuring a studio, kiln, local and national art competitions, art lab, and an expansive art curriculum, our art program is a standout in the established art community in downtown St. Paul.

Open to students of all skill levels, this option assists students in preparing an art portfolio, help students discover new art mediums, and learn the history and techniques of different art forms.

Global Leadership


The newest specialized diploma, the Global Leadership option provides students with an advanced look at oral and written language, cultural understanding, and the commonalities and differences throughout various cultures of the world.

This option prepares students for further studies at the university level in majors such as International Relations, Diplomacy, Education, and more. The Global Leadership special diploma gives students a head start on success in a global society.

The Art of St. Paul Prep

One tradition that has lasted at St. Paul Preparatory School from back in the early days when we were still known as “Nacel International School” is an appreciate and talent for art. In fact, one of our special diplomas is in Visual Arts!

And this year was no different at SPP, as we had many great artists!

Since not everyone who knows, loves, and supports our students and school could be in St. Paul for the Spring Art Show/Performance Day, we wanted to share some of the wonderful and beautiful works of art made by the talented hands of St. Paul Prep students. Enjoy the photo gallery below! Yay art!

Connecting to Bangladesh Students Through Art

Last December I was one of five teachers selected from across the United States to participate in an exchange program through World Savvy and the U.S. State Department. I took 30 high school students to Bangladesh to study the environmental, social, economic, and political impacts of climate change. Teachers and students spent one month living with host families and participating in research and service projects with local Bangladeshi students. I lived in Rayer Bazar, a slum in Dhaka – the fastest growing city in the world, fulfilling my service project through the interviewing and documenting of local climate refugees. The mass influx of “climate refugees” is due to citizens in the outlying areas fleeing their flooded coastal lands that are left uninhabitable or too saline-contaminated to support crops.


During the days, I walked through the streets of Rayer Bazar interviewing climate refugees with the aid of a translator. The majority longed to go back to their farmlands which had been sadly transformed into flood plains. These transplants now lived in indescribable squalor; slums of a thousand people per square kilometer. Cooking for 100 people was shared over three open gas flames along with one squat toilet for a public bathroom. Children filled the shadows yet their access to education was nonexistent. In the evenings, I would sleep on the floor at the only school in the slum, Jaago. Nearly all of the 560 students who attend Jaago come from parents who are climate refugees.

Now that I am back home I want to keep spreading the information about Jaago and climate refugees so I have built it into my portrait unit in my drawing and painting classes here at SPP. We started by learning about Bangladesh, Climate Change and Climate Refugees. We then focused on drawing/ painting portraits. Our final project was drawing the portrait of the students who attend Jaago rather than drawing themselves. These students at Jaago do not have an art program due to funds and do not have a photo of themselves. It took us four months to get the photos from Imran, a volunteer who sent them to us from Jaago.


Our final paintings were sent back over to the children. On the backside of the artwork will be the original photo. Our amazing SPP students suggested we write them a letter describing themselves and our surroundings to educate them about our culture. It was a great idea and SPP students put so much time and effort into each part of our project! We have laminated each of the drawings and paintings to protect the artwork from any pollution or weather that could be damaging. Imran (the volunteer at Jaago) said the students were so excited for the day when their artwork arrives!! I am really proud of our art students as they have been equally excited to create their artwork and have become so passionate about climate change and climate refugees.


The artwork has recently arrived and their students love it! I got tears in my eyes when I saw these photos and our SPP students are so proud to see their work in Bangladesh!!

– Ms. Kate Woolever-Martinez

This story was featured in an article in the Pioneer Press!

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A Month in Congress

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Yasameen from Afgahnistan, a junior at St. Paul Preparatory School was awarded 2nd place for her outstanding artwork last year at the Betty McCollum Congressional Art Competition. She continues to create artwork focusing on the politics of her home country, Afghanistan. In early January 2014, Yasameen and SPP art teacher Ms. Kate Woolever wrote a letter to Congresswoman Betty McCollum explaining Yasameen’s passion for politics and her long-term goal to bring peace and education to her country. Ms. Kate Woolever asked if Yasameen could intern with the congresswomen to learn the ins and outs of her professional life. Days later, a letter returned accepting her request. The letter explained that this type of internship was not the norm, as they usually do not accept high school interns; however, Yasameen stood out to them and seemed to be full of great potential.

Excitedly, Yasameen began her first day interning at the congresswoman’s office in early January. She went two days a week, her tasks varied from working with their IQ system, monitoring emails from community members, researching information about congress, having discussions with staff members about their responsibilities, assisting and shadowing each member in the office and much more. “I learned how much hard work, patience, respect, and teamwork goes into working in politics” Yasameen explained. “It was so fun to be a part of this environment and even though there was a lot to do, the staff seemed to be good friends who truly enjoyed their jobs.”

Yasameen reflects on the end of her time there “My last day was a very bittersweet time; everyone in the office came together and threw me a party! Accompanying some tasty treats, Congresswoman McCollum personally gave her a leather portfolio case with all their contact information inside, a gold congressional token, and a letter Betty McCollum personally wrote. “I couldn’t believe how welcoming and accepting each employee was towards me!” Yasameen explained. “They didn’t treat me as a student but as another respected staff member. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I know it will be my foundation as I continue to work towards my goals in bringing peace to my country.”

– Kate Woolever-Martinez, Art Teacher

Learn more about our Internship program, arts, and other college and life preparatory opportunities at St. Paul Prep on our website.

Students Engage in the Art Community

Ms. Woolever-Martinez shares a story of her students fully engaging in the art community and their recognition of the value of art and education


We are so fortunate to live in a community that values the arts! After all, Minneapolis is ranked the #2 city in the United States for the arts – next to NYC. This year we have had students visit the Weisman, attend National Portfolio Day at the Walker, get tours at the MIA and attend evening and weekend classes at MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design).

Another great way for our students to take art classes is through the Community Education classes offered in the metro area during the evenings. Instructors are more than excited to have high school students sign up and the price is always reasonable! Most recently, we had a group of students attend a Community Ed class at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. I was also interested so I decided to tag along. It was a drawing class about the art style of Zentangles. Upon walking in, I believe the other students (who were mostly middle-aged women) were shocked to see such a herd of high school students interested in taking an extra evening class. It was a great social opportunity for our students as well as the other community members involved. The adult students were very interested in our students and had great conversations about their unique backgrounds and our distinctive school.


I could not be more proud of our students here at SPP. They gave such great efforts and continue to push themselves as great artists. The adults in this class were equally as impressed with our students’ manners and art skills and their understanding of the value of education. After the class, I received an email from our instructor saying what a joy our students were and she hopes we come back for more art classes soon. Our students are working hard and are learning to take great opportunities and make them into wonderful learning experiences as well as fun memories!

-Kate Woolever-Martinez, Art Teacher

Visit our website www.stpaulprep.org to learn more about St.Paul Prep’s strong Art program!


SPP at the MN Center for the Book Arts

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Art teacher, Ms. Woolever-Martinez took a group of students from her Book Arts class to the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts again this year. Students travelled to Minneapolis to participate in a workshop to make a Flag Book. While there, students also toured the building and galleries.

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Betty McCollum Congressional Art Competition

Last night, several SPP students and staff attended the 2013 Betty McCollum Congressional Art Competition Awards Ceremony, held at the St. Paul Union Depot. Several St. Paul Prep students submitted their work to the competition including Amiga N, Homin S, Irene H, Karen H, Li X, Yasameen M, and Yiguang K. All students did a wonderful job.

Ms. Woolever, SPP students, and Dr. Briscoe at the ceremony.
Ms. Woolever, SPP students, and Dr. Briscoe at the ceremony.

Yasameen was awarded second place. Her artwork is heading to Washington D.C. to be displayed for one year in the Capitol.

Yasameen and Betty McCollum
Yasameen and Betty McCollum

Congratulations to all students who participated in the competition!


SPP Student Recognized in NYC

After countless hours of hard work and dedication to creating art, SPP student, Hee Soo was recognized as a National Scholastic Gold Key Artist on June 1st in New York City. Just a junior at St. Paul Preparatory school, Hee Soo’s artwork gained state recognition at the state competition winning three gold keys, one silver key and one honorable mention. From there, her gold key artwork advanced onto nationals where one of her pieces was selected to win the national gold key award. The national awards dates back to 1923 with noteworthy roster of past winners including Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Richard Avedon, and Robert Redford. On May 31st Hee Soo and Ms. Woolever flew out to New York City to attend a weekend of events and ceremonies.

We were warmly greeted by the gold glow of the empire state building as it was lit in gold to honor the National Gold Key Artists for the weekend.  Truly the city that never sleeps, we found ourselves falling into the same pattern: racing from artist talks, workshops, and art galleries then squeezing any extra time in for sightseeing. We were exhausted by the end of the day.  We also took part in college visits at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons New School of Design, though part of Parsons was closed to film the show Project Runway, which was also exciting!

The awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall was a big highlight! Walking into such a historical building was amazing and to top it off I looked up at the stage and there was Hee Soo’s colored pencil drawing blown up on a big screen for all to see. I have never been more proud! As if our energy wasn’t bursting enough, the guest speaker for the night was actress Meryl Streep. The night was filled with cheers, new friendships and reflection.

To end our extraordinary time in New York City, we attended the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. The play was outstanding and to make it even better, we ran into musician Aretha Franklyn as we were exiting.

Both Hee Soo and I wanted to say thank you to everyone who made this trip possible for us! We both agree it was the trip of a lifetime and we are so thankful for all we have learned, friends we made and experiences we will never forget. Thank you so much St. Paul Preparatory!

-Ms. Woolever

Schools On Stage at the Guthrie Theater

This spring, a group of St. Paul Preparatory students had the opportunity to participate in the Guthrie Theater’s Schools On Stage program. This artist-in-residence program allows school groups to work directly with Guthrie teaching artists, giving students the opportunity to explore themes of the Guthrie productions and then work with Guthrie teaching artists to create original, ten-minute theater pieces.

Students will present an encore performance at
St. Paul Prep’s Spring Arts Showcase
Wednesday May 23, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

The Guthrie Theater, founded in 1963, is an American center for theater performance, production, education and professional training.

St. Paul Prep teacher Jessica Hovey applied to the Guthrie Theater’s Schools on Stage six week program. Twenty one SPP students joined five other high school groups from across the metro area. They worked with Guthrie teaching artists to create original theater pieces which they performed on the beautiful Guthrie stage in April.

The Schools On Stage experience has had a lasting impact on SPP students. St. Paul Prep parents shared their students’ excitement and confidence after the weeks of work at the Guthrie. They’ve noticed their students who had been struggling with their English abilities are now more relaxed when speaking, communicating more often and with greater ease.

Hours of intensive theater games and acting exercises culminated with each school’s final performance.

“I learned a lot from Schools on Stage.  It was just an amazing experience that I will never forget. I loved working with Adam and Laura.  They were absolutely amazing. Performing at the Guthrie made me more confident – now I will always have that with me when I perform.” ~Jennah (U.S.)

“It was really fun, having this.” ~Tusmo  (Kenya/US)

Everyone improved their acting skills and grew more confident on stage.

“School on stage was an amazing experience, I am glad that I had a chance to be part of it. With the program I was able to develop my acting skills and also show my potential and creativity, which I could hardly do otherwise. I hope that more students have the chance to be part of this great Guthrie’s initiative.”  ~Lucas  (Brazil)

St. Paul Prep students felt validated by the warm reception given to their theater piece. They were glad their story was accepted, even though the themes and outcome weren’t necessarily happy.

“What I will always remember from this amazing experience is how everybody changed during our work days.  It was so fun to watch the others and myself coming more and more out of ourselves. Some days we just didn’t care anymore how stupid our games and exercises would look for those who don’t know what we were doing… because we knew… and we had so much fun!!!” ~JoJo (Germany)

“I feel extremely lucky that I had the opportunity to get to know Laura and Adam, because they are amazing. I loved their games we played, the special approach they used to vivify our script, and their skill to make us enthusiastic about anything. I will never forget these classes.” ~Sará  (Hungary)

Teacher Jessica Hovey’s thoughts about the Schools On Stage experience:

Schools on Stage: How the Guthrie’s Educational Program Illuminated the Hope, Fears, and Camaraderie of Students from Around the World

When I applied for the opportunity to have the Schools on Stage program at St. Paul Prep, I had the greatest hope and smallest expectations of actually being chosen for the program.  I had an even smaller idea of how it would take shape and visibly form the group of participating students.

You see, St. Paul Prep is an international school with about 180 students from 24 different countries.  The 21 students in the program represented Kenya, Haiti, China, Hungary, South Korea, Germany, France, Spain, Vietnam, Brazil, Romania, and the U.S..  Of course, if you account for the diversity of our U.S. students, there was an even broader range of diversity represented through culture, ethnicity, and religion.

A few students asked to join because they wanted the experience to try acting, an impossible dream within their home country.  Other students just wanted to have fun and to try something new while meeting students from different countries.  And many students were hoping to improve their confidence or their English speaking abilities.  The Guthrie’s program did all of these, and so much more.

Over a 6 week period, we met for eight three-hour workshops lead by two incredible Guthrie Theater teaching artists, Laura Esping and  H. Adam Harris.  In these workshops, the students played games to help with focus and concentration; they learned to project their voices, to carry themselves with confidence and purpose; they wrote creative, hilarious, and heartbreaking scenes and monologues; they learned to work together to create something bigger than themselves.  And, using themes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as a jumping point, they created a short play—from their own ideas, and images, and writing—a play that spoke to them, a play that involved them all, a play to make you laugh, a play to make you weep.

I won’t say it was polished, it wasn’t.  It was powerful. Over spring break, five students came in to school to spend a full day writing the script.  Looking through what they had written, the students gathered lines and developed a story.

The short play they wrote followed the life and decisions of a man made old by his own missteps and lost dreams.  There is love, dreams, coercion, denial, rejection, a mob, a long-lost child, and a too-late regained memory.  As the old man wanders through the fluid human set—a sea of languages and cultures—watching scenes replay from his life, we see his story unfold.  His story seems to unfold the hopes and dreams and fears we have all had, but also those of the students.  In an exceptionally visceral moment, we see them—on the brink of their own un-knowable futures—reach out and gasp as the old man falls back from the edge of the train.

His fall marks something profound.  I say “something” because it is different for each person, but it is there, and the goose bumps are tangible.  For some, it was a release, a willingness to let go, a freedom; for others, it was an escape, a death, a tragic suicide; and for still others, it was a hope, a dream of returning, or—perhaps more poignantly—a tender, heartrending display of love.

After his fall, the “old man’s” body is gathered and carried; his dreams, his memory, his hopes eulogized, and we are left with a brief glimpse of his “daughter” rising.  Hope, dream, and future all before her.  What an exhilarating, terrifying place for this girl and all the students to be.

Of the six schools participating in the Schools on Stage program, St. Paul Prep was 5th to perform.  This spot did nothing to mollify the frazzled nerves of the students.  During the break between performances, the students kept approaching me, worried that their performance was nothing like the bold, outgoing, sometimes humorous performances of the other schools.  They were worried no one would understand them, that they weren’t actors, that their story wouldn’t be understood.

Their performance was met with an outpouring of love and admiration. Audience members mentioned how they got goose bumps, how they cried, how they loved all the languages used. The students were more in shock than they were delighted as they left the stage. But they came back with something more forceful than their play: they came back with confidence, they came back with belief in their own self-worth, and they came back with a real sense of solidarity. And they came back knowing that their place on the edge of independent life in the greater world is individual, but secure; that there will be people from all over this globe to lift them up, to grasp their hands when they fall.

Jessica Hovey , English, ESL, Social Studies Teacher

“I gained a lot more of confidence when I act. Like I am able to put my self into the character. I think that it was just such a great opportunity. It was a once in a life time experience.” ~Wilhelmina (U.S.)