Hi Nathan,This is my 3rd year with ITS and I'm still figuring it out. I do charge the students the $35 Induction fee, but do not charge seniors for cords. I feel they are the reason we have a program and if we haven't made enough money throughout the year to spend a couple of hundreds in them, I'm doing something wrong:)I tried to institute the pins last year, but am not sure I will continue. Our small program is run by just me, and after the spring musical I am tired and Rampling up my real job (we don't have theatre classes and I come in after school). I struggle with the point system, as some students have earned 25 points with another production company and only build set for me. My stage manager joins the production for the last 2 weeks, and I don't believe she deserves the same points as a cast members who has been at rehearsals 3x a week and multiple Saturdays.
I relate to your struggle to honor the kids, finding the fairness and overburdening your budget. Find what works for you!Wishing you the best!
I have a similar dilemma with costs - this is our second year with ITS and, especially with our springs shoes canceled the week before performance, we have ZERO funds available for this year's honouring of students materially. I'm actually not sure we will be able to pay annual dues next year. We do not get a budget and I funded the first year out of pocket until we got some fundraising (mostly ticket sales and a one-off event) accomplished. This year, we had a very well attended winter show and had outstanding pre-sales for the spring set. We had to refund those but had already spent the rest of our funds on the props, costumes, etc that we cannot get back now because the school has been off limits beyond our return period.Although we include a $5 up charge (not much at all) to help pad senior items, the reality is that $35 is already a bit much for most of my student population. They want to be a part of the Society but feel the "perks" (given we can't get money to travel to a nearby festival or any festival, really; and the scholarship opportunities really don't compete with those offered by other societies, like the engineering ones - we are a STEM school) don't actually add up to what they're paying for and are currently in debate about whether we stay with ITS or pay a yearly membership fee for the club internally. Our seniors want to see the chapter progress and thrive but our underclassmen argue there isn't a point. I'm somewhere in between because the costs really are high for our troupe, which, this year, raised over $600 but lost $400 on shows we couldn't do (the additional $200 went to funding a field trip and purchasing scripts, for which we also have no budget or support).
All that said, cords are highly coveted at my school (it's the culture), so I was planning to purchase them out of pocket. However, they just announced graduations will not have any in-person component whatsoever in our district so I might be able to get away with stickers, although I have no way of getting them to the students.
I never taught at a school that wasn't "low wealth," but I chartered one troupe and brought two others out of inactive status because I believe in the value of the International Thespian Society membership. But there is only so much money to go around. Once you set expectations for your troupe, that is what the students will expect.ITS inductees paid their own induction fees, but a simple note from a parent saying they had an inability to pay part or all of the fee shifted that responsibility to the Theatre account.I gave out the certificate and whatever EdTA was currently sending to inductees, and that is all.The troupe (from the internal Theatre account) bought blue cords once the school where I taught for the last two decades started allowing them. A week or so before graduation, Thespians in good standing brought me a check or cash for the replacement cost of the cords. After the graduation ceremony, each Thespian either gave the cords back in exchange for the deposit or kept the cords. I met grads in the room where the actual diplomas were distributed. (Students received just the cover in the ceremony itself.) Some students wanted to keep the cords, but more than half just wanted to wear them for the ceremony.I never gave out trophies, because we simply couldn't afford them. Oh, I guess we could have afforded them, but that would have meant spending less on our shows and festival attendance, and that wasn't a bargain I was willing to make. I made certificates for senior recognition and the awards ceremony each spring, which also included students who weren't Thespians.Discussing finances with the troupe was something I feel very strongly about. If troupe members want all the bells and whistles, I think they need to be willing to find a way to pay for them. Having trophies, stoles or cords, etc., might mean giving up something else, but that is a decision worth discussing, life lesson worth learning.