"For over 100 years Blackwell Academy has been an academic oasis for art and science, with diverse students from around the world seeking to change the world and their communities." — Blackwell Academy's brochure
Blackwell Academy is a senior high school located in Arcadia Bay, Oregon. The school specializes in Science and Arts and is currently overseen by Principal Raymond Wells. It appears in Life is Strange and Life is Strange: Before the Storm and is mentioned in The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit.
"I GOT ACCEPTED INTO BLACKWELL ACADEMY.
If words could dance this would be a rave. Even though I've never been to one. But who cares because I GOT INTO BLACKWELL ACADEMY[, a unique and famous private school for seniors! NO KIDS ALLOWED]! I didn't think I would be so excited since it's not like I didn't used to live in the same town. But when I saw the text from the Blackwell scholarship office, I could literally feel my pulse speed up.
But Seattle wasn't like a fable. Au contraire. Now Blackwell Academy seems more exotic to me than any other place in the world. To study photography under Mark Jefferson... SIGH. Insert hearts and flowers. Plus there will be cool diverse students from everywhere. It won't be like my high school now..."
The text in brackets was removed after the release of Episode 5 (before 126.96.36.1991598).
BackgroundAccording to Michelle Grant, the school is built on old Native American land, shared between the natives and the early colonial settlers.
In 1910, Jeremiah Blackwell founded the academy, striving for excellence among the student body. Jeremiah's statue resides at the front of the building, bearing the motto "The future needs excellence". In the Two Whales Diner, there is also a black and white flyer of Blackwell, boasting "Global Excellence in Arts and Science for over a hundred years and counting."
Blackwell is partially owned by, and financially funded by the Prescott family. In 1998, they donated the dormitory building to Blackwell.
Between the events of Before the Storm and Life is Strange: Season 1 (2010 - 2013), Blackwell Academy changes its curriculum and student body make-up. The narrative reasons for this that are explored via secondary plot-lines over the events of Before the Storm. Blackwell's change results in the hiring of famous art teachers like Mark Jefferson and the eventual shift to a specialized two-year extended senior program. Prior to this evolution, Blackwell Academy is a fairly standard private high school with four grades. For certain prestigious private schools, this fifth year can amount to college credit or can be seen as giving students a leg-up to get into a really prestigious arts education.
Within the Academy building there are several explorable rooms:
- The Hallways
- Girls' Bathroom
- Michelle Grant's Science Classroom (Room 104)
- Mark Jefferson's Art Classroom (Room 102)
- Principal Wells' Office (and the adjoining secretary's office)
- Blackwell Swimming Pool (and changing rooms)
- Travis Keaton's Drama Lab (Before the Storm)
- Boys' Bathroom
- Cafeteria and Kitchen
- Computer Lab
- Media Lab
- Math Lab
- Music Lab
- Storage Rooms
- Jefferson's Office
- Business Office
Outside the building, there are several main areas:
The layout of the campus can be seen on a map in the Madsen garage in David's surveillance cupboard.
- Raymond Wells - Principal
- Michelle Grant - Science Teacher
- Mark Jefferson - Art/Photography Teacher
- Bernadette Hoida - English and Literature Teacher (currently on sick leave)
- David Madsen - Head of Security
- Samuel Taylor - Janitor
- An-Marie Barenchi - School Nurse
- Michelle Barenchi - Coach of The Otters
- Travis Keaton - Drama Teacher (Before the Storm)
- J. Edwards - Physical Education Teacher
- C. Cole - Art Teacher
- E. Terry - Practical Math and Life Skills Teacher
- P. Jackson - Social Sciences Teacher
- I. Ferdinand - Personal Health Teacher
Clubs and Other Groups
Most Prestigious Groups
- Geek Grrls Book Club (led by Brooke Scott)
- Drama Club
- Vegan Club
- Science Gamer's Group
- Anti-Mobbing Support/Discussion Group (led by S. Sorber)
- Gamer Guyz (led by J. Romero)
- Meals on Wheels (led by Kate Marsh)
- School Newspaper "Blackwell Totem" (Reporter Juliet Watson)
- Bible Study Group (led by Kate Marsh)
- Sci-Fi Movie Club (led by Warren Graham and Brooke Scott) (Before the Storm)
7 optional graffitis can be drawn around and inside Blackwell Academy locations.
A well is something used to obtain water in large amounts. As water is important to human survival, it is associated with good things, hence the reason people throw coins down wells in exchange for luck.
The color black holds many negative connotations. It is the color of night and darkness (when people can not see and are therefore vulnerable), the color of bruises and body parts afflicted by frostbite, the color of ashes (which are the leavings of a fire, which can cause great harm), and the color of rotting things.
Hence we have "Black Well", or "Danger disguised as fortune". It is a fitting name considering that, despite being a school intended to give students opportunity and knowledge, Blackwell is a place where a lot of sinister and generally shady things are going on.
- Max describes Blackwell Academy as being "like a high school college" (in one of her inner comments when she was in the campus for the first time).
- On her character note, Max writes that she returned to Arcadia Bay to "study photography at Blackwell Academy, a private school for 12th grade seniors."
- There is a poster present in the hallway of Blackwell in Episode 2, which describes Blackwell as "Not Just A Hybrid College."
- Frank Bowers refers to Max and Chloe as a "couple of high-school girls" after having been hurt by the latter. Having a lot of customers among Blackwell Academy's students, it is safe to assume that Frank is somehow familiar with the school.
- Samuel Taylor, the school janitor, wears a lanyard which reads "Blackwell Academy High School".
- Blackwell Academy was originally, in an early stage of conceptualization back in January 2013, meant to be called "Avendell Highschool", as evident from a concept art by Gary Jamroz-Palma.
- The academy's architecture is based on schools in Oregon around 1910, the year Blackwell Academy was founded, aiming for a design true to reality. Main concept artist Edouard Caplain conducted research on what schools looked like at that time, their architecture, the materials that were used to build them as well as what kinds of trees populated their campus.
- Game Designer Alejandro Arque stated in a Blackwell Podcast interview that the creative team at DONTNOD looked into a lot of Oregon high schools to provide references for the creation of Blackwell Academy. They also looked into private schools and colleges for references of a more closed educational environment that does not contain many people.
- Blackwell students are provided with a student email extension of @BlackwellAcademy.ed.
- Blackwell Campus appears briefly in the alternative Chloe's timeline, when Max first arrives to the timeline and discovers she is a member of the Vortex Club.
- A flyer that can be found in the Two Whales Diner states that Blackwell offers free campus tours every third Saturday.
- The Eye of Providence appears around the school.
- In the main campus, near the corner of the pool building, there are a lot of joint and cigarette butts. On the wall nearby, there is a graffiti of a shark devouring an otter. This may have been drawn by Chloe to express her anger at the fact that Max was in Blackwell for over a month and made no attempt to contact her. Chloe later refers to Max as an otter in the pool while mimicking the "Jaws" theme song.
- In the Parking Lot, there are references to several different television shows on the license plates: "PRKSNRC" for Parks and Recreation; "THWR" for The Wire; "TPFTHLK" for Top of The Lake on Jefferson's car; "CRNVL" for Carnivàle; "BFFVMPRSLR" for Buffy the Vampire Slayer; "THXFLS" for The X-Files on Warren's car; "TWLGHTZN" for The Twilight Zone; "THSPRNS" for The Sopranos; "BRKBD" for Breaking Bad on Frank's car; "BRDCHRCH" for Broadchurch; "TWNPKS" for Twin Peaks on Chloe's truck; "QNTMLP" for Quantum Leap; "THPRCTC" for The Practice; and "SXFTNDR" for Six Feet Under on Nathan's car.
- Without Blackwell's eventual shift to a specialized two-year extended senior program between the events of Before the Storm and Life is Strange: Season 1, certain familiar characters such as Victoria Chase and Rachel Amber would not have been students in the academic years of 2012/2013 and 2013/2014.
- If Max fails to save Kate in Episode 2, the school flags outside Blackwell Academy remain at full-staff. There is no law that requires a school to seek a local major or Governor of State's permission to half-staff school flags upon the death of a student. It is up to the discretion of the school with regards to whether they want to do this as a mark of respect.
- Principal Wells is aware that the students call the academy "BlackHell".
- Max's student ID is B1OT21F2015. The 2015 could be an expiry year. If this is the case, then Blackwell Academy's switch to a specialized two-year extended senior program by 2013 makes a 2015 expiry date on Max's student card make sense. If the academy operated like a normal high school, then her student number would have ended with 2014.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Public post made by Square Enix's Life is Strange Community Manager in the 'Life is Strange (GAME)' group on Facebook (7th July 2017); Statement screenshot
- ↑ This is one of many references to Amaury Balandier, the lead environment artist on Life is Strange.
- ↑ J. Romero advertises a gaming group called "Gamer Guyz" in the Boys' Dormitory.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 These names are visible on a poster near the girls' bathroom.
- ↑ He placed an ad for lost swimming goggles on the Blackwell Pool noticeboard.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Both Rory W. and River S. have signed a postcard sent to Kate after her suicide attempt on behalf of Blackwell Academy.
- ↑ In the Boys Dormitory, there is an advertisement for an anti-mobbing support and discussion group at Blackwell organized by S. Sorber.
- ↑ He has posted an advertisement for a band in the Blackwell Hallway.
- ↑ Someone called Tyron tries to sell his bike at Blackwell. It's possible that he's also attending Blackwell.
- ↑ Edouard Caplain on the Art Behind Life Is Strange (February 9, 2016)
- ↑ For more information see this website.
- ↑ A drunk Principal Wells makes the following comment near the beginning of Episode 3 "Chaos Theory" when Max is trying to sneak past him from the dorms: "Look at me feeling sorry for myself when Kate Marsh's family is in mourning... They'll probably sue the academy right out of Oregon... Now I understand why the students call this place "BlackHell"..."
Life is Strange Locations
|Arcadia Bay · ACFC Drive-Thru · American Rust Junkyard (Hideout) · Cemetery · Chloe's Truck · Police Department · Beach · Blackwell Academy · Frank's RV · Gas Station · Hospital · Lighthouse · Madsen Household (Bedroom · Chloe's Room · Garage · Bathroom · 2008) · Pan Estates · Prescott Barn (Dark Room) · McFlinn · Prescott Estate · Water Tower · Train Tracks · Rue Altimore · Harbor Inn · Two Whales Diner · Up All Nite Donuts|
|Hallway · Main Campus · Parking Lot · Photography Lab · Prescott Dormitory · Principal Wells' Office · Science Lab · Swimming Pool|
|Max's Room · Dana's Room · Kate's Room · Victoria's Room · Nathan's Room · Custodial Room|
|Alternative Beach · Alternative Price Household (Garage) · Bean Hip Cafe · Kroft Gallery · Plane · Zeitgeist Gallery|