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Thespian Festival 2013 honors achievement in educational theatre

July 18, 2013


On the final day of the Thespian Festival, the Educational Theatre Association recognized valuable volunteers, talented students, and dedicated educators and school administrators who have made significant contributions to theatre education. EdTA handed out more than $20,000 in grants and scholarships.

Kendra Matthews (Troupe 1182, Mesa High School, Arizona) and Marissa G. Ontiveros (Troupe 4871, Crescenta Valley High School, California) each took home the Jhon Marshall / ITO Outstanding Student Achievement Scholarship. This $1,000 scholarship is awarded to two graduating seniors who exemplify the ideals of the International Thespian Society.

The 2013-14 President’s Award went to Jim Flanagan, director of operations at the Educational Theatre Association. The award is presented to an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the association, president, board of directors, or volunteer leadership of EdTA.

Rick McDaniel (McKinney Boyd High School, Texas), Banks Bitterman (Buford High School, Georgia), and John H. Brewington (Virginia Beach Public Schools) all received the National Administrator’s Award, which recognizes outstanding school administrators who have demonstrated exemplary support for educational theatre.

The International Thespian Society Inspirational Theatre Educator Award annually recognizes up to three individuals who have inspired their students and dedicated themselves to providing high quality theatre education. Awards went to Billy Dragoo (Troupe 1747, Stephen F. Austin High School, Texas), Richard Hogle (Troupe 88005, Albuquerque Academy, New Mexico), and Chad Little (Troupe 4551, Parkway North High School, St. Louis).

The International Thespian Society Spirit of Thespis Award can recognize up to three schools that demonstrated grace under pressure when faced with a serious challenge. This year, one Spirit of Thespis Award went to Emily W. Macy (Troupe 6616, Edgewood Jr./Sr. High School, Merritt Island, Florida).

A new award, Volunteer of the Year, went to three former members of the national touring company of Wicked: Carla Stickler, P. Jason Yarcho, and Michael Mahany, who were recognized for their contributions to Making Magic, Defying Gravity. A musical revue involving high school students and professionals, Making Magic has been staged nationwide in the past year raising more than $35,000 for Thespian scholarships.

Also this year, Terry McGonigle (Alma High School, Arkansas) was recognized for his support of and contributions to the International Thespian Officers. McGonigle mentored the ITO from 2006 to 2013.


Allison Grady (Troupe 5483, Millard West High School, Omaha, Nebraska) received the Leadership Grant, created by Joe Burnsworth, a former president of the Educational Theatre Association board of directors. The grant provides registration and travel expenses for one student to attend the International Thespian Festival. Qualifying students have demonstrated leadership through Thespian activities by being a troupe or state/chapter officer by having previously participated in the leadership-training program at Festival.

Kimberly Linehan (Troupe 305, Westfield High School, Houston, Texas) received the Melba Day Henning Theatre Education Scholarship for $4,500. The scholarship is awarded to one graduating senior working toward a career in theatre education. The initial award of $1,000 a year is renewable for three additional years—up to a maximum of $4,000. A $500 cash stipend is awarded when the recipient secures a teaching position.

The Doug Finney Festival Grant is given annually to four high school juniors or seniors who are inducted members of ITS. The grant covers the basic Festival registration fee and reimburses travel expenses up to an amount set at the beginning of each school year. Recipients this year include Victor Mondragon (Troupe 6730, Liberty High, Henderson, Nevada); Hunter Fredrick (Troupe 3482, Branson High School, Missouri); Jason Joyce (Troupe 2326, Kellam High School,Virginia Beach), and Sarah Gaudet (Troupe 4820, Winnacunnet High School, Hampton, New Hampshire).

The Educational Theatre Association Presidents’ Leadership Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship created with donations from and in honor of past and current EdTA board presidents. This scholarship is intended for inducted Thespians who successfully demonstrate leadership abilities. Emphasis is placed on the student’s troupe involvement and demonstrated leadership abilities and experiences both in and out of school. Applicants do not have to major in theatre in college. Jonathan D. Jacobs (Troupe 5706, Whitefish High School, Montana) received the 2013 President’s Leadership Scholarship.

The Bob and Marti Fowler Future Theatre Educator Scholarship is a one-time award of $1,500 to a student pursuing a theatre education major and demonstrates leadership qualities, an excellent work ethic, the ability to work effectively as a member of a production team, strong character, academic ability, organizational skills, and experience in different aspects of theatre. Haley Barr (Troupe 6460, McKinney North High School, Texas) received this year’s scholarship.

Renata Delena, (Troupe 5497, Booker T. Washington High School, Dallas, Texas), took home the Austin Yeatman Technical Theatre Scholarship, a one-time $1,000 scholarship for a graduating senior studying technical theatre in college.

A number of Thespian scholarships were also awarded.

Marissa McCoy (Troupe 6756, Faith Lutheran High School, Las Vegas, Nevada) received a $2,500 theatre education scholarship. Samuel Curry (Troupe 6901, Willow Canyon High School, Surprise, Arizona) received a $2,500 technical theatre scholarship. Danielle Feinstein (Troupe 4554, Parkway North High School, St. Louis) was awarded a $2,000 performance scholarship. Bianca Alomar (Troupe 6575, Harris County High School, Hamilton, Georgia); Spencer Tolleson (Troupe 1966, Temple High School, Texas); Ariel Bake (Troupe 5654, Northwest School of the Arts, Charlotte, North Carolina), and Marissa Shuster (Troupe 69, Dubuque Senior High School, Iowa) each received $3,000 performance scholarships. Nick Falewitch (Troupe 68, Papillion LaVista High School, Nebraska) and John Rivenburgh (Troupe 7186, William B. Travis High School, Richmond, Texas) received $2,500 scholarships.

Technical theatre scholarships of $2,500 went to Brady Brock (Troupe 1158, Belton High School, Missouri) and Ellen Keyser (Troupe 4575, Indianola High School, Iowa). Haley Di Virgilo (Troupe 7654, Legacy High School, Broomfield, Colorado); Kayla Peters (Troupe 6517, Chaska High School, Minnesota), and Delancey Dessaints-Prince (Troupe 4969, The Meadows School, Las Vegas, Nevada) all received $2,000 scholarships.