Thespian Troupe Handbook

International Thespian Society Troupe Handbook

Last updated: August 12, 2021

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ITS Troupe Handbook Cover

About the Educational Theatre Association

The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) is an international association with more than 100,000 active members. EdTA’s mission is shaping lives through theatre education; honoring student achievement in theatre; supporting teachers by providing professional development, resources, and recognition; and influencing public opinion that theatre education is essential and builds life skills. EdTA is the home of the International Thespian Society, an honorary organization established at nearly 5,000 schools, which has inducted more than 2.4 million theatre students since its founding in 1929. EdTA also produces the International Thespian Festival, Dramatics.org, and Theatre Educator Pro.

Starting a Thespian Troupe

By starting a Thespian troupe, you’ve established an affiliation (charter) with the International Thespian Society (ITS). The school or organization administration appoints the troupe director to be the official representative to EdTA. The full benefits of joining can be found here. The chartering school or organization is legally and financially responsible for troupe and troupe director activity. By chartering a troupe and renewing the troupe’s membership annually, the troupe director and administration agree to the terms in the code of regulations and membership policies.

Thespian Troupe vs. Theatre Program

The Thespian troupe is a subset of the school/organization’s theatre arts program. It is the student honor society, a separate student organization, and membership is earned. Only students who have been officially inducted and registered with the International Thespian Society are members.

Term of Troupe Membership

The troupe membership term is August 1 through July 31, which is known as the ITS “academic year.” Troupes chartered or reinstated August 1 through June 30 become active through the end of the current academic year (July 31). Fees are not prorated for partial years. Troupes chartered or reinstated July 1-31 have their memberships extended through July 31 of the following academic year.

Annual Troupe Renewal Dues

Every year, Thespian troupes much pay dues to cover the cost of basic services as well as the troupe director’s membership benefits. Annual troupe dues are $129. Each troupe must submit its annual troupe renewal dues by October 15 of each year to maintain active status. Renewal reminders are sent in early August, although troupes can renew at any point in the prior academic year or pay renewal dues for multiple years at the same time. For more information about pre-payment, contact members@schooltheatre.org.

Troupes that have not paid their troupe dues by October 15 become inactive (see Troupe Status), and their benefits are suspended. If an inactive troupe pays the outstanding dues within 30 days, its membership will return to active status with no additional fees required. Troupes that have not paid their dues by November 15 must pay an additional $100 fee to reinstate their memberships or they will be withdrawn from the International Thespian Society.

The easiest way to process payments is online. Simply click the “Click Here to Pay Now” button found on your invoice to be guided through the secure payment process. Alternately, Purchase Orders can be emailed to members@schooltheatre.org and payments by check via mail are also accepted. When submitting payments by mail, please remember to include the remittance form found at the bottom of your invoice or include the invoice number, troupe number, and name of the school for which the payment should be applied on the check itself. Send check payments to:

Educational Theatre Association
PO Box 7410260
Chicago, IL 60674-0260

Troupe Status

The troupe’s status reflects the organization’s active relationship with the International Thespian Society. Troupe status does not affect individual student Thespian benefits that come directly from ITS. Troupe status may affect benefits that require a troupe director’s authorization, including scholarship and grant eligibility, induction, and the purchase of graduation and honor items.

Number of Troupes per Organization

As of May 2021, a school/organization has one Thespian troupe that may contain Thespians (students in grades 9-12), Junior Thespians (students in grades 6-8), or both Thespians and Junior Thespians. This allows high school troupes to induct students from grades 6-8 who participate in their programs into the same troupe if the feeder middle school does not have a Thespian troupe or the school is designed as a K-12 or 6-12 structure. Similarly, middle schools may induct 9-12 grade students into their Thespian troupe if the high school does not have a Thespian troupe for them to join upon entering 9th grade. This policy is intended to strengthen the 6-12 pipeline for theatre programs. Please note that Junior Thespian membership in a troupe does not guarantee subsequent Thespian membership in that same troupe.

Who is a Member of the Thespian Troupe?

Thespians/Junior Thespians – Only students who have completed all eligibility requirements and have had their induction fees and information submitted to EdTA by the troupe director are members of the Thespian troupe and the International Thespian Society. It is not possible to induct or maintain Thespian members locally without registering through EdTA. Participation in an induction ceremony alone does not constitute induction. The induction ceremony is the local celebration of induction into ITS. A student’s failure to maintain satisfactory standards of membership may result in removal of local troupe benefits but not national membership.

Troupe Directors – The troupe director administers the troupe on behalf of the school/organization. They are a professional member of the Educational Theatre Association, and the status of that membership automatically matches the status of the troupe.

Thespian Alumni – Induction into the International Thespian Society is a lifetime membership; however, the active benefits only last through high school graduation for Thespians and through the completion of 8th grade for Junior Thespians. Thespians who have graduated from high school become Thespian alums. They become inactive members of the troupe and ITS. Junior Thespians who advance to 9th grade become Junior Thespian alums and must qualify for – and then be inducted into – high school Thespian status.

Honorary Thespians – Adults may be names Honorary Thespians of an active ITS troupe for outstanding service and support of the mission and purpose of ITS. They can be parents or other volunteers from the community, school employees, or generous patrons. Honorary Thespians are affiliated with the troupe and ITS, but they are not active, voting members. For more information, see Recognizing Adults as Honorary Thespians.

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Maintaining a Thespian Troupe

Minimum Active Student Member Requirement

All troupes are expected to have a minimum active member base of at least 6 students within 12 months of the troupe’s activation. After that, the troupe will have an accumulated total of at least 6 active, officially inducted Thespian members at the end of each academic year (July 31). The count is verified before graduates are advanced to Thespian alum status. This provides a core group of students to conduct the activities of the troupe and fill other positions. Active members include all inductees still attending the school/organization. Troupes are not required to induct 6 new students each academic year. The year-end total of all active student members must be 6 or more.

Troupe Record Requests

Troupes should keep accurate records of all student inductions, including copies of all induction roster forms and online induction confirmations. To access lists of active and alumni troupe members from previous years, contact the Membership Services Center at (513) 421-3900 ext. 1 or at members@schooltheatre.org.

Transferring Thespians to a Different Troupe

When a Thespian transfers to a school that has an active Thespian troupe, the troupe director at the new school must submit a Thespian membership transfer. There is no fee for this transfer. The transferring Thespian should not be submitted as a new member, and they do not need to pay additional fees to EdTA. For a small fee, the troupe director may order a new membership certificate and/or membership card that includes the student’s new troupe information by completing a Thespian Replacement Card and Certificate Order Form.

Once the transfer form is processed, the Thespian will become a member of the school’s troupe. Troupes must accept transferring Thespians who have earned at least 10 points (see Thespian Points) with their previous troupe. The new troupe director and that troupe’s constitution determine whether or not points over the 10 required for induction will be recognized at the new troupe. The transferring Thespian may be required to fulfill certain additional expectations to receive local troupe benefits at their new school. We encourage all transferring Thespians to read their new troupe’s constitution and bylaws carefully.

If a Thespian transfers to a school without an active Thespian troupe, they will remain a member of their original troupe. The student may or may not be eligible to earn additional points and receive local troupe benefits through their original troupe at the discretion of its troupe director and constitution. We encourage all Thespians transferring to unaffiliated schools to ask about chartering a new troupe there. Many successful troupes were founded by transferring Thespians. Contact members@schooltheatre.org for support materials that can help establish a troupe a new school.

Revoking Thespian Member Benefits

Official Thespian induction confers a lifetime membership. Thespians cannot be withdrawn from the international membership rolls and continue to receive benefits that come directly from ITS. However, troupe directors may suspend or withdraw a Thespian’s status as a member in good standing of the local troupe for just cause, according to the guidelines set in the troupe constitution and in consultation with the school/organization’s administration. Losing local good standing may affect major benefits that require a troupe director’s authorization, including the awarding of points, honor ranks, graduation recognition, troupe and chapter event participation, etc.

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The Role of the Troupe Director

The troupe director is the official representative of the Thespian troupe. The troupe director is responsible for overseeing troupe activities and operations, subject to the authority of the organization’s administration and all EdTA policies. This troupe director is a professional member of EdTA as long as the troupe remains an active membership status. The troupe director can access all EdTA professional member benefits.

Troupe Director Eligibility

Any adult appointed by the organization’s administration may serve as the official troupe director (e.g., the theatre director/teacher, another teacher, a parent, or a Thespian alum).

Associate Troupe Directors

The troupe may have more than one person who helps fulfil troupe director duties. ITS identifies this person as an associate troupe director. The primary troupe director and the associate troupe director, if appointed, have the designation to do troupe business. This gives them the ability to sign forms and applications, award Thespian points, induct students in ITS, order Thespian honor items, and access troupe account information. However, only one person may be designated the official troupe director and have troupe leadership authority. Associate troupe directors must be active members of EdTA to be appointed.

Using the Management Portal

The Management Portal is where the troupe director conducts official troupe business, including creating and updating student records, inducting students, and making troupe payments. A Management Portal user guide and instructional videos are available via EdTA.

Key Troupe Director Tasks

Keep the troupe’s membership active. Troupes must pay their annual dues by October 31 each school year to remain active. Troupes must also pay outstanding balances promptly and adhere to EdTA/ITS guidelines to remain active and in good standing. If a troupe’s membership lapses, the troupe may reactivate.

Verify/update troupe contact information with EdTA. Troupe directors must maintain accurate troupe and personal contact information through the Membership Portal. Review/update reminders are sent to all active troupes at the beginning of each school year.

Review the troupe’s constitution. Every troupe should adopt a constitution that includes troupe operation and organization information specific to that troupe. The constitution should be reviewed each year and updated, if necessary. The troupe constitution should be accessible to all members of the troupe.

Induct Thespians. Troupe directors recognize student achievement by assessing student work and inducting eligible students into the International Thespian Society. Students must earn 10 Thespian points to be inducted into ITS. Active troupes may induct new members at any time of the year.

Advance Thespians through honor ranks. Following induction, troupe directors encourage and reward achievement by continuing to award Thespian points, advancing students through Thespian honor ranks. Troupe directors must update the ranks on their Thespians’ online member profiles.

Award Thespian scholar distinctions. Troupe directors recognize their Thespians’ success in overall academic coursework by awarding Thespian scholar distinctions.

Conduct troupe officer elections. Each year, troupes may conduct officer elections. This establishes a team of student leaders who support the troupe director and troupe activities throughout the year.

Manage information. The troupe director is the primary conduit of information among the school/organization, ITS, and students. Correspondence from EdTA is sent to the troupe director’s attention. It is the troupe director’s responsibility to maintain and check an active email address and to share appropriate information with students and forward all invoices and statements for processing as required by the school/organization’s payment policies. The troupe director authorizes transactions, orders, inductions, and membership queries on behalf of the troupe. EdTA does not release sensitive troupe information to students or parents. Whenever possible, troupe directors – not students – should contact EdTA/ITS.

Replace lost, damaged, or incorrect Thespian credentials. Troupe directors and Thespian alumni can order replacement credentials from EdTA for a fee by filling out and submitting the Thespian replacement card and certificate order form. Clearly identify any errors or changes in names.

Control troupe funds. Control of troupe funds is vested exclusively with the troupe director and school officials. The troupe director submits official records, transactions, and payment of fees to EdTA. All payments must be made in United States funds. We highly recommend the troupes outside the U.S. pay by credit card. Doing so automatically converts payment to U.S. funds and locks in the correct conversion rate.

For more information and resources about key troupe director duties, please visit the Troupe Directors’ Resources page.

Additional Benefits

Administrator Awareness Letter – Each fall, EdTA sends a congratulatory letter to the principals of ITS-affiliated schools that highlights the hard work of their theatre honor students and troupe director. Along with the letter, each principal receives a list of all Thespians that were active at the end of the previous academic year and their Thespian honor ranks and scholar distinctions. To provide the best possible list, troupe directors must update the rank and distinction fields on each Thespian’s online profile before July 31. Directions for updating a student profile can be found in the Membership Portal User Guide

Application Assistance for Production Royalty Discounts The ITS royalty reduction program helps troupe directors apply for discounted rates on royalties for upcoming productions through cooperating play publishers. The service is not available for musicals. Additional guidelines and restrictions apply.

Changing Troupe Directors

Incoming Troupe Directors – Transitions between troupe directors are particularly important times for Thespian troupes. It is important that EdTA/ITS be informed of troupe director changes as quickly as possible to ensure that professional membership is transferred to the new troupe director and that accurate contact information is available. To make the change official, the incoming troupe director must create or access their account through the EdTA Membership Portal and submit the change through the Change of Troupe Director button.

Outgoing Troupe Directors – If staff changes (such as retirement) are known in advance, the outgoing troupe director can help to facilitate a smooth transition by doing the following:

  1. Communicating to the new troupe director the value of Thespian affiliation, including:
    1. The honorary nature of induction;
    2. Professional member and Thespian benefits and services;
    3. Chapter and international event and program opportunities, etc.

  2. Giving the new troupe director all troupe-specific materials, including:
    1. The current troupe constitution, complete with any membership eligibility amendments;
    2. Thespian membership rolls and induction history;
    3. Student point record, rank, and scholar distinction information;
    4. Troupe leadership information;
    5. Copies of important correspondence with EdTA/ITS.

  3. Do not pass on troupe director login credentials or edit the existing troupe director profile with the incoming person’s information. The incoming troupe director will need their own member record and login credentials, which will be set up when the Change of Troupe Director form is processed by EdTA.

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Thespian Inductions

Mandatory school and student eligibility requirements are defined in the EdTA membership policy. Schools and students must meet all of these, plus those listed below for inductions to be granted.

Thespian Points

To be inducted as a Thespian and to earn special honors past induction, students earn points for theatre-related work that they do as part of class or extra-curricular participation. EdTA provides a Thespian point system to help determine induction eligibility along with Thespian point record sheets and a Thespian Induction Point System (TIPS) tool that provides the recommended number of points awarded for a specific assignment and helps track each student’s points.

Only the troupe director and the associate troupe director (if appointed) may make the final decisions regarding the awarding of Thespian points. The troupe secretary (if the position exists in your troupe) is often responsible for maintaining point records and making them available for each student’s person review. Point records are kept at the troupe level. They are not sent to EdTA/ITS.

Point Accrual for New Thespian Troupes Troupe directors of newly chartered Thespian troupes may begin inducting Thespians as soon as their charter has been approved. Troupe directors can choose to tabulate and award points to students for their work prior to the official chartering of the Thespian troupe. It is highly recommended that the troupe director works to document the allocation of any such points awarded in a way that is consistent with how future inductees will record and tabulate their points as detailed in the troupe’s constitution.

Changes to the Thespian Induction Point System – Troupes may adapt changes to the point system to meet the unique needs of their theatre programs and students. Approved changes must be documented in the troupe constitution and shared with all theatre students.

Thespian Point System Summary:

  • One point represents approximately 10 hours of excellent work. Use this formula in awarding points for items not specifically listed in the point system.
  • To become a Thespian, a student must earn 10 points (the equivalent of 100 hours of excellent work). 5 of those points should be acquired at the school where they are to be inducted.
  • Junior Thespians working toward high school Thespian status may apply up to 5 earned points for induction into the high school Thespian troupe.
  • At the troupe director’s discretion, students may earn up to 5 points toward induction through participation in community, children’s, or professional theatre. Once inducted, students may continue to earn points for theatre participation outside of the school/organization’s program. This should be clearly documented in the troupe constitution.
  • Thespian membership is offered to all students who qualify. No student can be elected to the troupe, nor can a student be denied membership if all membership requirements have been met.
  • In accordance with the Anti-Hazing Policy, as approved by EdTA’s Board of Directors, hazing is strictly forbidden.

Junior Thespian Point System Summary:

  • One point represents approximately 10 hours of excellent work. Use this formula in awarding points for items not specifically listed in the point system.
  • To become a Junior Thespian, a student must earn 5 points (the equivalent of 50 hours of excellent work). 3 of those points should be acquired at the school where they are to be inducted.
  • At the troupe director’s discretion, students may earn up to 2 points toward induction through participation in community, children’s, or professional theatre. Once inducted, students may continue to earn points for theatre participation outside of the school/organization’s program. This should be clearly documented in the troupe constitution.
  • Thespian membership is offered to all students who qualify. No student can be elected to the troupe, nor can a student be denied membership if all membership requirements have been met.
  • In accordance with the Anti-Hazing Policy, as approved by EdTA’s Board of Directors, hazing is strictly forbidden.

Troupe directors are to notify students that records of their activities are maintained, and that honor society induction will be available when all criteria have been met. All induction requirements must be provided in writing to all students in the theatre program.

Induction Criteria

Grade at Time of Induction – Only students in grades 9-12 (or the international equivalent) may be inducted as a high school Thespian. Students in grades 6-8 must be inducted as a Junior Thespian.

Graduating from Junior Thespian to High School Thespian – Induction into ITS as a Junior Thespian does not guarantee induction into ITS as a high school Thespian. Inducted Junior Thespians who qualify must be inducted as high school Thespians to achieve that level of membership. When a Junior Thespian is promoted from eighth to ninth grade, they become a Junior Thespian alum. They begin earning points toward their high school Thespian membership and induction into the high school troupe (if it is different from the troupe they were inducted into as a Junior Thespian) or re-induction into the troupe (if the troupe inducts both Junior Thespians and Thespians). While they can apply at least 5 points toward their high school induction, the decision as to how many additional points can be carried over is made by the troupe director of the high school Thespian troupe in accordance with the troupe’s constitution and bylaws.

School Enrollment – If a student receives academic coursework from a school with an active troupe, they may only be inducted into and receive benefits through that troupe. Troupes may induct students who attend other schools only when those schools do not have their own active troupes.

Additional Criteria – The school or troupe director may adopt additional requirements for induction into ITS. Attendance, academic performance, behavioral expectations, and community service projects are examples of criteria that may be considered when determining induction eligibility. Any changes must be documented in the troupe constitution. Criteria may not include recommendation of approval by other students.

Guidelines for Determining Troupe Affiliation

  • Each student may only be affiliated with one ITS troupe. A Junior Thespian alum maintains alum affiliation with the troupe into which they were initially inducted and may be affiliated with a new/different troupe (if the troupe is different than the troupe of which they were a Junior Thespian member).
  • A student may only transfer troupe affiliation or membership once in any academic year.
  • Students may only participate in ITS programs with their troupe of affiliation unless troupe or event rules state otherwise. Participation with another school/organization/troupe does not alter troupe affiliation. Points may be awarded for work done with outside organizations/schools/troupes based on the guidelines of the student’s official ITS troupe.
  • Participation in chapter events is governed by the guidelines of the chapter.
  • EdTA reserves the right to determine any student’s eligibility and affiliation in accordance with current regulations and policies.

Specific Guidelines for Active Troupes – If there is a troupe at the school where the student receives other core academic education (language arts, math, science, social studies, etc.), then

  • The student may only be affiliated with and/or a member of that troupe.
  • An inductee transferring to the school must transfer membership to the school’s troupe.
  • If a school’s troupe reinstates after a period of inactivity, any of its students who are affiliated with other troupes must transfer their affiliations and memberships to the reinstated troupe.

Specific Guidelines for When There is Not an Active Troupe – If there is no active troupe at the school where the student receives core academic education, and

  1. The student has been inducted into ITS, then
    • The student is still affiliated with and a member of their original troupe. Whether or not they are a member in good standing is decided by the troupe director.
    • The student may transfer ITS membership to a nearby troupe with that troupe director’s permission provided that the student participates in the regular activities of that school’s theatre program and troupe (beyond any preparation for or participation in ITS district, chapter, regional, national, or international events).
  2. The student has not been inducted into ITS, then
    • The student may be affiliated with or inducted into an active troupe at another local school/organization provided that the student actively participates in the activities of that school’s theatre program and troupe (beyond any preparation for or participation in ITS district, chapter, regional, national, or international events).

Affiliation Terms

  • Affiliated – The student is actively participating in the troupe’s program (i.e., a troupe member or one actively earning points toward membership in the troupe). Troupe affiliation is often required for ITS program participation.
  • Troupe Member – The student is affiliated with the troupe and has been officially inducted into ITS.
  • Member in Good Standing – The inductee’s local membership benefits have not been suspended or withdrawn by their troupe director.

Inducting New Thespian Members

Troupes with active membership status may induct new members as often as they choose. The steps for inducting new Thespians are as follows:

  1. Present membership invitation cards (optional). In this optional step, the troupe director presents each eligible student with a Thespian Induction Invitation, a personalized invitation to join ITS and the troupe.

  2. Gather completed student induction RSVPs. Students receiving a Thespian Induction Invitation confirm their desire to be inducted by returning their RSVPs to the troupe director, ideally three weeks before the ceremony. The RSVP is used to verify each inductee’s correct name, birthdate, and current contact information. If students pay their own induction fees, they should submit payment with the RSVP. The troupe director uses information on the RSVPs to induct students online. Do not send RSVPs or individual student payments to EdTA.

  3. Induct students online. The troupe director follows the procedures to induct students online. Upon submission, inductions are activated immediately. Please allow two to three weeks for EdTA to send the troupe director the following for each inducted student: one personalized membership card and certificate, one official ITS induction pin, and one bumper sticker that reads “Proud parent of a theatre arts honor student.” These items are provided in addition to the full list of member benefits for inducted Thespians.

NOTE: Allow extra time for rosters or payment submitted by mail. If you need the membership credentials expediated (for receipt in under two to three weeks), we recommend paying for rush service (see below).

  1. Rush service for dues and merchandise processing. The vast majority of inductions and orders are submitted between April 1 and June 1. EdTA recommends that troupe directors plan for their inductions well in advance. Normal processing during this time period is three to four weeks. Troupe directors may purchase priority rush service at any time of the year to receive induction materials within five business days after receipt of the payment or purchase order by EdTA. Rush service is only guaranteed for transactions paid by credit card or purchase order. Rush service on orders paid by check cannot be guaranteed. Rush orders are not available on international orders outside the United States.

  2. Hold an induction ceremony. Most troupes choose to welcome and celebrate the accomplishments of their new Thespian members through an induction ceremony. Conducting a ceremony alone does not constitute induction. Students’ information must be submitted to EdTA for an induction to be valid (see Step #3). The following information may be helpful when planning your induction ceremony:
    • Thespian Motto – “Act well your part; there all the honor lies.” —Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man
    • Thespian Pledge – Used by both Thespians and Junior Thespians. Note that the “t” in “fellow thespians” is purposely lowercase to intentionally encompass the wide community of thespians inside and outside ITS.

“I promise to uphold the aims and ideals of the International Thespian Society. I am a student of theatre and excellence is my ideal. I promise to perform my part as well as I can; to accept praise and criticism with grace; to cooperate with my fellow thespians and work for the good of the troupe; and to share my love of theatre.”

    • History – A timeline of ITS/EdTA history may be of interest during your induction procedures.
    • Thespian Colors – The International Thespian Society’s founders originally adopted the same official colors as the college theatre honor society, Alpha Psi Omega (ΑΨΩ), which they had founded four years prior to ITS. Alpha Psi Omega’s colors were taken from the commonly used theatrical lighting gels Moonlight Blue and Bastard Amber. The official ITS colors have evolved over time to blue (PMS 286) and gold (PMS 123)
    • Thespian Flowers – Blue delphinium and yellow roses.
    • Distinguished Thespian AlumniThis list of accomplished Thespian alumni is an enlightening look at Thespians who have gone on to achieve success in the arts, business, and government.
  1. Process Payment of Purchase Orders – If the troupe submitted a purchase order, EdTA will generate an official invoice that reflects the purchase order number and the date the purchase order was applied. It is the troupe director’s responsibility to forward all invoices and statements for processing and prompt payment as required by the school’s payment policies and procedures.

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Thespian Honors Beyond Induction

Thespian Stars & Honor Ranks

Troupe directors should continue tracking Thespian points after induction and use these points to recognize ongoing Thespian achievements. Thespian stars are presented to acknowledge each additional 10 points (100 hours) earned. Star ratings may be designated on the student’s membership certificate under “Thespian Stars Earned.” We also encourage the troupe to indicate star ratings and honor ranks after student names on playbills, membership rolls, and in other printed materials. ITS recognizes three achievement ranks beyond induction.

  1. Honor Thespian – 60 total points (600 hours) earned or the equivalent of six stars. For outstanding contributions to the ideals of the Society and meritorious work in the field of theatre.
  2. National Honor Thespian – 120 total points (1,200 hours) earned or the equivalent of 12 stars. For exceptions commitment to the ideals of the Society and distinguished work in the field of theatre.
  3. International Honor Thespian – 180 or more total points (1,800+ hours) earned or the equivalent of 18 or more stars. For extraordinary dedication to the ideals of the Society and exemplary work in the field of theatre.

Troupe directors should update the Honor Rank field on their Thespians’ online profiles regularly by the end of each ITS academic year, July 31.

Thespian Scholar Distinction

Thespians who demonstrate high academic success in overall coursework earn the distinction of scholar. The scholar distinction always follows the student’s ITS rank to create a full designation, such as Thespian Scholar, Honor Thespian President’s List Scholar, National Honor Thespian Scholar, etc. Upon completion of eighth grade, Junior Thespian scholars retain that designation, but after induction as a high school Thespian, they must earn new Thespian scholar distinctions for their academic work in high school. Thespian troupe directors may award the Thespian scholar distinction if the student:

  1. Is officially inducted into ITS.
  2. Is currently enrolled in the school and a member in good standing of the troupe.
  3. Has earned a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or its local equivalent for all academic coursework as determined upon completion of tenth grade or any official grading period thereafter. Students with a 3.5 cumulative GPA become Vice President’s List Scholars, and students with a 4.0 GPA are awards the President’s List Scholar distinction.
  4. Has fulfilled any additional local criteria required by the troupe that is clearly stated in the troupe constitution.

Troupes may require additional criteria that are higher than those established by ITS. Examples might include a higher GPA or an additional minimum GPA for theatre arts coursework. Those criteria may not conflict with the ITS guidelines and must be included in writing as part of the troupe constitution.

Troupe directors should regularly update the Academic Distinction field on their Thespians’ online profiles. Profiles should be updated by the end of each ITS academic year, July 31.

Thespian Graduation & Honors Program

ITS offers a wide variety of items for recognizing Thespian achievement. Graduation and honor items may only be purchased by official troupe directors of active Thespian troupes for presentation to inducted Thespians via the Thespian Shop. Presentation of honor items in addition to induction pins is a Thespian tradition, but it is not mandatory.

Thespian Graduation and Honor Items and Use

  • Thespian Member Certificates – A benefit of membership that is personalized and sent to troupe directors along with membership cards for presentation to new inductees. Gold foil seals and trim on ITS certificates are heat-resistant and compatible with any high-quality laser printer.
  • Honor Rank Certificates – Specific certificates are available for all three Thespian honor ranks as described above.
  • Graduation Honor Cords, Stoles, and Tassels – Any graduating high school Thespian is eligible to receive these items. Cords, stoles, and collars are worn around the neck over the graduation gown. Special stoles are available for presentation to Thespian scholars only. Tassels are attached to the graduation cap. Troupe directors should work closely with their administrators to determine guidelines for display of graduation items.
  • Thespian Letters – Any inducted Thespian is eligible to receive a felt or chenille letter patch. Letters are also available for Best Thespian recipients and all Thespian honor ranks. Thespian pin and ribbon items are often displayed on Thespian letters applied to the front of a school jacket.
  • Best Thespian Certificates – Any inducted Thespian can be voted “Best Thespian” by the troupe’s membership. Troupe directors set standard for this distinction at the troupe level, which should be clearly stated in writing in the troupe constitution.
  • Thespian Recognition, Achievement, and Honor Medallions – Medallions may be presented to any Thespian and may represent any achievement that a troupe or EdTA chapter director deems appropriate. Some schools permit display of medallion with, or in place of, graduation honor cords or stoles.
  • Thespian Seals – These self-adhesive, embossed, gold-foil seals are commonly used to create official troupe documents, seal induction invitations, or seal envelopes for official troupe correspondence.
  • Thespian Point Star, Officer, Scholar, and Honor Bar Stickers – These self-adhesive foil stickers are usually placed at the bottom of the Thespian membership certificate to signify the respective achievements. Each star sticker represents 10 points earned.
  • Thespian Certificates of Recognition – Certificates of recognition are presented for many reasons at the troupe and chapter level. They may be presented to Thespian and non-Thespians (e.g., parents, sponsors, administrators, and/or volunteers) at the troupe or chapter director’s discretion.
  • Thespian Beanies – These traditional caps harken back to the early days of ITS. They are sometimes worn at induction ceremonies and other troupe activities.
  • Thespian Trophies, Plaques, and Awards – EdTA provides a full complement of personalized trophies, plaques, and presentation pieces via our ITS Awards Store.
  • Thespian Induction Pin – As of August 2015, the Thespian Induction Pin is awarded to all Thespians and is included as part of the induction fee. It represents 10 points.
  • Thespian Honors Ribbon – The ITS honors ribbon is a combination of a metal pin and a fabric ribbon. Thespians can attach their induction pins and a variety of additional pins to their ribbons to display Thespian honors and achievements. They can also attach star pins, each representing 10 additional Thespian points earned.

Guidelines for the Thespian Pin and Ribbon System (all points are cumulative)

Thespian Points Earned Honor Item and Signification
10 Thespian Induction Pin
  • Official Thespian induction earned
  • Induction pin = first point star earned = 1-star Thespian
10+ Thespian Honors Ribbon, Scholar Pin, and/or Officer Pin may be worn with the Induction Pin
  • Scholar Pin represents academic distinctions
  • Officer Pins represent offices held
20 1st Thespian Point Star is attached to the Thespian Honors Ribbon

  • Induction Pin (10 points) + 1 Point Star (10 additional points) =
    20 Points = 2-star Thespian
30

2nd Thespian Point Star attached to Thespian Honors Ribbon

  • Induction Pin (10 points) + 2 Point Stars (20 additional points) =
    30 points = 3-star Thespian
40

3rd Thespian Point Star attached to Thespian Honors Ribbon

  • Induction Pin (10 points) + 3 Point Stars (30 additional points) =
    40 points = 4-star Thespian
50

4th Thespian Point Star attached to Thespian Honors Ribbon

  • 50 points = 5-star Thespian
60

Honor Thespian Pin attached to Thespian Honors Ribbon

  • All stars removed from ribbon
  • 60 points = Honor Thespian Rank = 6-star Thespian
70-110

One Thespian Point Star attached to Thespian Honors Ribbon for each additional 10 points earned in addition to Honor Thespian Pin.

  • 70-110 points = 7- to 11-star Honor Thespian
120

National Honor Thespian Pin replaces Honor Thespian Pin

  • All stars removed from ribbon
  • 120 points = National Honor Thespian Rank =
    12-star Thespian
130-170

One Thespian Point Star attached to Thespian Honors Ribbon for each additional 10 points earned in addition to National Honor Thespian Pin

  • 130-170 points = 13- to 17-star Thespian
180

International Honor Thespian Pin replaces National Honor Thespian Pin

  • Highest ITS rank attainable
  • All stars removed from ribbon
  • 180 points = International Honor Thespian = 18-star Thespian

 

Guidelines for the Thespian Pin and Ribbon System (all points are cumulative for Junior Thespians only; 5 points may be carried over toward Thespian induction)

Thespian Points Earned Honor Item and Signification
5 Junior Thespian Induction Pin
  • Official Junior Thespian induction earned
  • Induction pin = first point star earned = 1-star Junior Thespian
5+

Thespian Honors Ribbon, Scholar Pin, and/or Officer Pin may be worn with the Induction Pin

  • Scholar Pin represents academic distinctions
  • Officer Pins represent offices held
10

1st Junior Thespian Point Star is attached to the Junior Thespian Honors Ribbon

  • Induction Pin (5 points) + 1 Junior Thespian Point Star (5 additional points) = 10 Points = 2-star Junior Thespian
20-100+

One Junior Thespian Point Star is attached to the Junior Thespian Honors Ribbon for each additional 10 points earned

  • 20-100+ points = 3- to 10+-star Junior Thespian


Recognizing Adults as Honorary Thespians

Adults may be named Honorary Thespians of an active Thespian troupe for outstanding service and support of the mission and purpose of ITS. They are typically parent or community volunteers, school employees, or generous patrons. They receive an Honorary Thespian pin, card, and certificate. Many troupes also add Honorary Thespians to their official membership rolls. Troupe directors submit new Honorary Thespians online using the same process used for inducting students.

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Troupe Governance Documents & Policies

Troupe Constitution & Bylaws

Each Thespian troupe is expected to adopt a constitution containing basic information about how the troupe operates. This includes any local additions to induction eligibility and the recommended point system. This troupe constitution template includes the process for approving changes. If the troupe has not adopted a modified version, the ITS troupe constitution template is the governing document.

At the end of the template is a section for troupe bylaws. These cover the day-to-day details of troupe operation, which vary greatly from troupe to troupe and may need to be updated more frequently than the articles of the troupe constitution. Bylaws often include such things as rules of order for troupe meetings, elections, and induction ceremonies. Thorough, up-to-date bylaws help the troupe document and communicate these important details to everyone involved and provide continuity from year to year as officers and troupe directors change. The troupe constitution and bylaws must be made available to all students, their parents, and the school administration.

Troupe Officers

While most troupes find great value in a troupe officer program, installing officers is optional. Troupe directors may determine the leadership structure, responsibilities, and the means of selecting and removing student officers in keeping with school policy. Details should be included in the troupe constitution and bylaws.

All Thespian troupe officers must be officially inducted members of the International Thespian Society and their troupe. Non-member students may serve as officers on a temporary basis as long as they are inducted into ITS by the end of the academic year in which they are serving. Most often, this is done to accommodate officers in a new theatre program or school. We recommend that student officers be appointed or elected immediately after a troupe has been chartered. Regular elections near the close of the academic year (beginning the following year) will ensure that officers are ready to serve when students return in the fall. Recommended officer positions include president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and historian. Other officers such as webmaster, theatre advocacy chair, publicity chair, etc. may be added to the troupe’s constitution at the troupe’s discretion.

Troupe Governance Documents

This handbook is one part of a hierarchy of documents that govern troupe operations. Your troupe should have access to all governance information and be familiar with the troupe handbook, constitution, and bylaws. These documents are designed to help the troupe operate smoothly and prevent confusion and/or conflict.

Code of Professional Standards – Principles to guide ethical decision making.

Code of Conduct and Complaint Policy – This document provides clarity regarding appropriate behavior.

Anti-Hazing Policy – Strict guidelines prohibiting any type of hazing within an ITS troupe.

Troupe Handbook – The ITS Troupe Handbook (this document) explains how troupes are expected to operate.

Troupe Constitution – Document that details how an individual troupe will operate.

Troupe Bylaws – Contained within the troupe constitution, these are easier to add, delete, or change than full articles of the constitution, which makes it easier to document day-to-day troupe operations.

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Additional Resources

Logos & Branding

For detailed information about the use of logos, including color options, editing/distorting, and use/placement, see the International Thespian Society branding library.

Glossary & Thespian Style Guidelines

To help promote consistency of style and branding across all chapters and troupes, here are basic definitions of common ITS terms and guidelines for using them.

Alum/alumni – When referring to graduated ITS members, alum and its variants are not capitalized, e.g., Thespian alumJunior Thespian alums. When referring to individuals or small groups, the general term “alum(s)” is preferred.

Associate troupe director – In addition to the troupe director, a troupe may designate another adult to be an associate troupe director, giving that person the same access to troupe records. This person must be a current member of the Educational Theatre Association. Final troupe decisions regarding official troupe business are always made by the troupe director. Only capitalize when used with a person’s name as a title: Associate Troupe Director Jane Smith.

Chapter – Troupes from the same state are all part of that state’s chapter. Capitalize only when used with a particular state: Delaware Chapter.

Chapter director(s) – Capitalize only when used with a person's name as a title: Chapter Director John Smith.

EdTA and ITS – Pronounced EE-DEE-TEE-AY and EYE-TEE-ESS.

Honorary Thespian(s) – Capitalized when referring to those members of ITS.

Induct vs. initiate – Always use “induct” and its variants. “Initiate” has strong connotations with hazing, and in accordance with our anti-hazing policy, its use should be avoided.

Junior Thespian(s) – Students in grades 6-8 are eligible to be Junior Thespians. Capitalize when referring to middle/junior high school members of ITS.

Student Members – Use “Student members,” “ITS members,” or “ITS student members” to refer to all members of ITS, Thespian and Junior Thespian. “Inductee(s)” may be used in place of these terms, especially to refer to new members or students in the process of being inducted.

Thespian(s) – Students in grades 9-12 are eligible to be Thespians. Capitalize when referring to ITS or members of ITS.

Troupe(s) – Capitalize only when part of a proper noun: Troupe 1234. Do not use “#:” between “Troupe” and the identifying numerals.

Troupe director(s) – The preferred title is “troupe director” rather than “troupe sponsor.” Capitalize only when used with a person's name as a title: Troupe Director Sally Smith.

The – The word “the” is not part of EdTA's or ITS's name. When using “the” before either name, do not capitalize. “The” is also not part of the name of any organizational events: the International Thespian Festivalthe International Thespian Society, rather than The International Thespian FestivalThe International Thespian Society.

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