The International Thespian Society (ITS) annually recognizes up to three individuals who have gone above and beyond in their role as a volunteer. The Honorary Thespian of the Year Award honors those adults who have selflessly given their time and ability to help a Thespian or Junior Thespian troupe with set construction, chaperoning, fundraising, advocacy, and more. This year’s Honorary Thespians are Brent Kelderman, Math teacher and theatre volunteer for Millard West High School’s Thespian Troupe 5483; and Andy Turner, Junior High Project Lead the Way Teacher and theatre volunteer with Smith-Cotton High Schools’ Thespian Troupe 4261.
Brent Kelderman of Omaha, Nebraska, volunteers his time with the Millard West High School Thespians theatre department, home to Thespian Troupe 5483, running sound at music rehearsals, assisting with plays, and participating in the staff and student improv shows. He also assists the troupe in securing and transporting props and set pieces among many other tasks. Kelderman and his wife donated more than $1,500 to the troupe to assist with cost of attending the International Thespian Festival, and continues to support the troupe serving as a chaperone at both chapter events and ITF. Thespian Troupe Director Brooke Phillip said, “I don’t think my students have met another teacher or person who is more selfless or service-oriented. He shows the students you don’t have to be an expert to be a valuable member of the team. And that it isn’t scary to dive right in and figure things out as you go. He is a great role model for the students and he leads by example more than he knows.”
Andy Turner of Sedalia, Missouri, assists the Smith-Cotton theatre department, home to Thespian Troupe 4261, building sets, transporting props and set pieces, and other behind-the-scenes roles. Turner also provides support and mentorship to the students, teaching them to use power tools and encouraging them every step of the way. Thespian Troupe Director Teri Turner said, “He became part of the program by establishing relationships with students, their parents, and our community simply by volunteering his time to our program because he believed in it. He sees incredible potential in these students and his action is the most encouraging way to show his belief in the program.”