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The Advocacy Update is where you can find state and national news about theatre and other arts education EdTA NEWS EdTA responds to Senate ESEA reauthorization bill : EdTA is partnering with other national organizations to speak out on a new Senate reauthorization bill for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) put forth by Senate education committee chairman Lamar Alexander. The bill features some alarming changes that could ultimately have a profound impact on arts education access and equity at the state, district, and school level. EdTA launches the JumpStart Theatre Pilot Program in Cincinnati...
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2015 has brought a new Congress to Washington , with a Republican majority in both the House and Senate. Along with the new faces (and plenty of veterans), are fresh bills—including a reauthorization proposal for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) put forth by Senate education committee chairman Lamar Alexander. The bill, which is the fourth such effort to reauthorize ESEA (known more recently as No Child Left Behind) since it expired in 2007, is currently under discussion by the Senate. The House is expected to issue its own reauthorization bill, most likely a variation of a failed bill offered in 2013. The Alexander bill features some...
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This past weekend I had the honor of traveling down to Louisiana for their annual Thespian Conference held at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana and I am now convinced that I’m a true Cajun now. The conference began with one act showcases from different schools that were amazing and really showed that in theatre, less is more. After those we got right into our first workshop sessions and it was exhilarating. The workshops were all instructed by staff of Northwestern State University and a few other universities. They were all so very willing to help us and answer all our questions. Especially “Acting In Love” taught by Dr. Corey...
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One of the main goals for our Theatre Education Community is to help theatre students and professionals from all over connect and identify with each other in order to build resources and support the theatre education field. We shine a spotlight on a different member every other week by conducting a simple interview. Our latest Spotlight Member is Michael Johnson, troupe director of Troupe 4305 at Trinity High School in Trinity, North Carolina. Michael has 20 years of theatre education experience and serves on the board for North Carolina Thespians. He regularly shares advice in the Community, particularly regarding the many elements of technical theatre....
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This past weekend I "Stepped out of the Chorus" in Indianapolis at the Indiana State Thespian Conference! From the moment I arrived on Friday morning to the moment I left on Sunday afternoon, I felt at home. Mrs. Ann Hileman and her 13 other adult board members worked diligently throughout the weekend, and with less than five hours of sleep they put on a fantastic event. A highlight for Indiana this year is that they sold out their conference space! Over 900 thespians were at Indiana University, and 10% of them participated in tech challenge while the majority competed in Individual Events. After receiving an adorable basket of my favorite things from...
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One of the International Thespian Officer's main goals for the year is to expand the use of Community. We highlight the different state chapter events each month by asking a few questions. We hope this sparks creativity when you're planning your next event! Our latest tour stops included: Indiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Maryland, New Mexico and Louisiana! General Information How many people attend? ● “On average we have about 750 attendees, but we are hoping to grow this year!” - Elizabeth Flynn, Indiana STO ● “ Last year we had 600, but we’re expecting 800 attendees this year!”...
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Virginia ThesCon

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When I landed in Virginia I was not only greeted by snow, but by a group of caring people. Although it was freezing cold and the time difference was creeping in to take it's toll, I was captivated by the hard work and dedication given by Virginia thespians. I was introduced to a lot of things. One of them being their Broadway Cares Fundraiser, The Womanless Beauty Pageant, where they raised over 800 dollars just by putting on a stunning drag show. They presented a spectacular "All-City" show which was Shakespeare's Midsummer Nights Dream, and it was beautifully set up and flawlessly performed. Great job Virginia! You'll always be in my heart.
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New Mexico ThesCon

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I flew in to view one of the most beautiful places I've ever come across. This place was none other than New Mexico. There was nothing but blue skies, and gorgeous mountain ranges. Not to mention, a group of passionate thespians coming together to celebrate theatre as a state. There was never a dull moment at this conference. I got the amazing opportunity to work with their State Thespian Officers to raise money for The Lincoln Experience and Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS, which were both extremely successful. I taught a wonderful group of extremely eager students about leadership and advocating for the arts. I think I learned more from them than they...
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Ms. Zena Takes Mongolia

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8 months...I have been in Mongolia for 8 months. And it is fabulous...challenging, beautiful, eye-opening. You should all come visit me! I am working as a University Teacher Trainer - which means that I am working with University & High School teachers & students, training the teachers in current methodology & teaching the students Theatre & English Language. I am also teaching ethics & methodology to University Ed students as well as supervising their student teaching. As of last month, I added another job to my roster - I am now working with the Mongolian Ministry of Education's Department of Curriculum Development....
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Well, if you are not from the South, perhaps I should explain cat head biscuits. Think about a homemade biscuit so big that it takes two hands to eat it. Now think about smiling the entire time you are enjoying that biscuit. (If we were at my grandmother's house, she would stuff it full of cheddar cheese, right out of the oven. My, that takes me back!) Now that we are all hungry, let me tell you that my weekend spent with Alabama Thespians at their Festival was even better than a cat head biscuit! From the moment I arrived until the moment that I left, their warmth, dedication, and enthusiasm was palpable. I had a wonderful time seeing the talented...
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Places Everyone!

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I traveled down south and "Took my Place" this weekend at the Alabama Thespian Festival in Birmingham, and it was full of warm welcomes, comfort food, and tons of theatre! The 11 State Thespian Officers greeted me with open arms and registration badges late Thursday night, afterwards I reunited with one of the ITO Adult Advisory Board Members from Buford, GA Mrs. Kimberly Staples. It was great spending the weekend with her as she taught me all the vocabulary in the South! 800 Alabama Thespians began Friday morning in the beautiful Reid Chapel on the Samford University campus for opening ceremonies. Afterwards I met a ton of thespians in the STO...
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Maryland's Conference last week was SUPER AMAZING! From one acts to trash costume contests I would say that this conference was far from trashy. (Hahaha puns.) Nevertheless I should say that as soon as Ben ochsner and I stepped into Tuscarora High School, we were both welcomed with opened arms by the STO and the adult board members. Just look at these lovely STOs from my leadership workshop! Throughout the festival, there was one act after one act after one act! Shows ranging from 'dentity Crisis to Women and War, all of the schools got a chance to show each other the amazing talents they had to offer. Not only were the schools performing...
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This weekend I had the HONOR of being a part of Tennessee's Thespian Conference! With the very teen involved theme of Hunger Games, all the costumes and Katniss/Peeta jokes, it was an amazing success! When I arrived to the site, Middle Tennessee State University, I met up with the Chapter Director, Mark Salty and the fabulous Ben! Once, I was finished saying my hellos, I jumped into my first leadership workshop! I had five eager Thespians! With such a close-knit group we could really talk about how support and being yourself as a leader helped us all along in our troupes and in our daily lives! Though I was the instructor, I couldn't help but think...
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A THEATRICAL TREATMENT ON MENTAL ILLNESS A recent report was published in the New York times, detailing Adam Lanza's psychological disorder. This excerpt stood out: "It's not that his mental illness was a predisposing factor in this tragedy," Dr. Harold Schwartz, chief psychiatrist at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living, said at a news conference held on Friday to discuss the report, of which he was an author. "It was his untreated mental illness that was a predisposing factor." I just finished a two year long project, writing and directing a play addressing teens and mental illness, for the high school students...
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Leave You Wanting "MO"!

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#MOThesCon15 knows how to have the MOst fun! Right off the bat we were working hard. On Thursday morning all hands were on deck to set up the registration center, the impressive silent auction table, and the ever-so-important snack table. The conference, held in Kansas City, was a well-oiled machine with a board of four STOs and an elect board of the four future STOs (shown below). The festival began with keynote speaker J. Jason Daunter who inspired Missouri Thespians to "Dare to Dream". It was a privilege to see Mr. Daunter again after hearing him speak at other festivals...
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One of the main goals for our Theatre Education Community is to help theatre students and professionals from all over connect and identify with each other in order to build resources and support the theatre education field. We shine a spotlight on a different member every other week by conducting a simple interview. Our latest Spotlight Member is Tiffany Joy May, a Thespian at Spanish Springs High School in Sparks, Nevada. She’s a born leader, serving as president of Troupe 6737 and on the Nevada State Thespian Board. I asked Tiffany to answer a few questions so we could learn more about one of our student members. ​ Photograph via...
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One of the International Thespian Officers’ main goals for the year is to expand the use of Community. We highlight the different state chapter events each month by asking a few questions. We hope this sparks creativity when you're planning your next event! Our latest tour stops included: Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska’s State Thespian Conferences! General Information - “The Nebraska Thespian Festival is a three day event held at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. With under 1,000 Thespians seated in Kimball Hall, this small chapter provides a close-knit atmosphere.” - “The Missouri Thespian Conference...
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Nebraska Is Home

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This past weekend I traveled around the world in two days with 850 of my closest friends. The trip began on Thursday afternoon when my fellow Drama Officers and I went down to UNL for leadership day. Once we arrived I taught my Teamwork at the CORE leadership workshop to the other troupe officers in Nebraska. The team of leaders in that room was incredible, and I was fortunate enough to help them further their skills. Friday was the first day of #nebthesfest15 and it began with a humorous opening ceremonies about Thespis traveling the world. Afterwards was the traditional Scholarship Auction. Some of the hot items this year were foam surfboards,...
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What an extraordinary weekend! I will say, on Thursday morning when I stepped off the airplane in Wichita, Kansas I didn't know what to expect. Boy, was I in for a treat! I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 Drama Conference for the Kansas Thespians hosted in Wichita and I was blown away! As soon as I stepped out of the airport I was greeted by a van full of Thespians who had hearts as big as a jay hawk. Once arriving at the convention center, I was introduced to some of my new best friends, the Kansas STO's! When I was first told there were only 4 STO's that put together a conference of 1,400's, I was a little skeptical. But these four individuals...
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Last week I discussed the advantages of including diverse learners in a Theatre program. Once I have students who are interested in Theatre, the real challenge is keeping them engaged. This is especially true for Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners. Most students enter with preconceived notions about what Theatre is, and what the experience is going to be. They may have been attracted to the bright lights and grand ovation of the final product, but they are usually completely unaware of the process. They just think it looks like fun, and it should be. What they don't realize is how much time and work is involved. Their idea of "Drama Club"...
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