May 2, 2017
The Educational Theatre Association recognizes schools whose theatre programs exemplify and promote high standards in educational theatre. This year, four schools were honored: Rock Ridge High School, Ashburn, Virginia; Floyd Central High School, Floyds Knobs, Indiana; Spanish Fork (Utah) High School; and Chaparral High School, Parker, Colorado.
The Rock Ridge High School performing arts program, under the direction of EdTA 2016 Inspirational Educators Award winner Anthony Cimino-Johnson, was cited for its strong administrative support and curricular program, which includes the country’s first dual enrollment theatre course where students can earn college credits. Rock Ridge has been open for only three years and already Thespian Troupe 8104 has been involved in state, national, and community events, including TOTS Eat, the annual International Thespian Society food collection drive, and a K-8 theatre program that shapes the lives of the next generation through theatre education. Its theatre program actively involves 277 students, which accounts for nearly 15 percent of the student body.
Rock Ridge also saw parent volunteer Peggy Markle win Honorary Thespian of the Year. She was nominated by Anthony Cimino-Johnson, who said, “Peggy has made it part of her own personal goals to embrace, love, and accept every child who has entered the program. Understanding that two theatre teachers are not enough for our 275 students, Peggy mentors students, gives them rides, travels to Home Depot for their designs, and has been known on several occasions to sponsor students in need who cannot afford to attend various theatre-related activities. She does all of this and asks for nothing in return. She wants every child to have a loving place to call home.”
The Floyd Central High School theatre program, under the direction of Robbie Steiner, was cited for their commitment to training students in a professional manner by integrating industry professionals from sound, lighting, props, scenic arts, publicity, and carpentry into classes. Floyd Central is home to Thespian Troupe 1794. In addition to six to eight full-scale productions each year, students participate in school charitable initiatives and support non-theatre assemblies. In the community, students partner with middle and elementary schools to provide programing and support for their theatre programs.
The Spanish Fork High School theatre program, under the direction of Andrew Hunsaker, was cited for having one of its state’s leading Thespian troupes. When Troupe 943 presented the original play When, which dealt with Alzheimer’s disease, they not only had the chance to do service learning but also to raise awareness as well as funds for the Alzheimer’s Association Utah Chapter. When they worked on a production of The Boys Next Door, they involved the special needs community. The school also hosts their city arts council production, their annual state Thespian conference, an annual leadership summit, as well as other state events, and theatre students provide technical services for non-theatre school activities and for the community.
The Chaparral High School theatre program, under the direction of David Peterson, was cited for involving students in a wide variety of experiences. Chaparral is home to Thespian Troupe 5994, which produced a show to educate the public on teen dating violence and performed it at other high schools. Technical theatre students worked with physics students to develop a light lab, which fostered a growing trend of infusing arts into the school’s curriculum. In the community, the troupe has established several community partners to promote educational theatre.