Theatre in Our Schools (TIOS) Month is a campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of theatre education and draw attention to the need for more access to quality programs for all students. While activities may take place any time, March is designated the official month for TIOS.
The TIOS campaign is jointly sponsored nationally by the American Alliance for Theatre & Education, the Educational Theatre Association, the International Thespian Society. Thousands of students and theatre educators from hundreds of schools across the nation spread the word online, in their communities, school boards, and elected officials, demonstrating how their school theatre experience provides 21st-century skills.
Participation in TIOS is open to all, with Thespian troupes taking a leading role. Thespian troupes at three schools have earned an award for the awareness they raised during March. All the winning schools employed announcements and displays in their schools to raise awareness. What distinguishes outstanding impact is demonstrated effort with school board members, elected officials, and communities. These troupes also demonstrated outstanding impact by continuing their advocacy work despite school closures and stay at home orders due to COVID-19.
The 2020 Theatre in Our Schools Outstanding Impact Award winners are:
First place: Leavenworth Senior High School, Thespian Troupe 287, Leavenworth, Kansas
Second place: Pennsbury High School, Thespian Troupe 830, Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania
Third place: Gulfport High School, Thespian Troupe 4779, Gulfport, Mississippi
Leavenworth Senior High School, home to Thespian Troupe 287, under the direction of Jennifer Morgan-Beuchat, had student advocacy leaders reach out to the Leavenworth City Commission and mayor about the importance of theatre in our schools and how theatre could help the community during COVID-19. The group planned a series of videos that Leavenworth students would create throughout Kansas’ Stay-At-Home order to encourage the community. Additionally, troupe members met with Representative Jeff Pittman; Joyce Huser of the Kansas Department of Education; Ken Adams, executive director for the Kansas Alliance for the Arts in Education; and Governor Kelly at the Kansas Thespians Theatre in Our School Advocacy Day, where Governor Kelly signed a proclamation declaring March 11 Theatre in Our Schools Day.
Pennsbury High School, home to Thespian Troupe 830, under the direction of Matthew South, contacted state representatives to raise awareness about the impact of theatre education and advocated for an official declaration of Theatre In Our Schools Month in Pennsylvania. Throughout the school year, troupe members promoted the importance of theatre in schools by attending monthly school board meetings to inform about the troupe’s recent achievements and upcoming productions. The troupe kicked off TIOS month with their spring production Hello Dolly.
Gulfport High School, home to Thespian Troupe 4779, under the direction of Tonya Hays, begin TIOS month by presenting to Gulfport’s school board and superintendent about the importance of theatre and the work their theatre program has done in the last year. Troupe members gave a presentation on the impact of theatre education for a new initiative called Devised Theatre for Change at the Southeastern Theatre Conference. Additionally, the troupe contacted legislators and elected officials to attend the Mississippi Humanities Council where various troupe members performed.
Honorable mentions include Francis Parker School, Thespian Troupe 8171, San Diego, CA and Hickory High School, Thespian Troupe 5688, Chesapeake, VA for raising public awareness to the impact of theatre education in schools.