March 23, 2016
High school students in four states have been awarded the Doug Finney Festival Grant to attend the 2016 International Thespian Festival. The Finney Grant is awarded annually by the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) and its student honorary, the International Thespian Society (ITS), to four ITS members. Finney, the former Thespian Festival Director who passed away in 1992, wished for every Thespian to have the opportunity to attend Festival. In 1993, the EdTA Board of Directors endowed a fund to support this endeavor.
This year's recipients are Samuel Dubin, Lakeview Academy, Thespian Troupe 3630, Duluth, Georgia; Rami Zein, Rock Ridge School, Thespian Troupe 8404, Ashburn, Virginia; Owen Nuss, Denver School of the Arts, Thespian Troupe 5869, Denver, Colorado; and Madilynn Jackson, Centennial High School, Thespian Troupe 6300, Columbus, Ohio.
The recipient of 2016's Ronald L. Longstreth International Thespian Festival Grant is Justin Durant, an exchange student from South Africa. The Longstreth Grant, also awarded annually, is a one-time award for a student who is not a United States citizen, resides in a foreign country, and is an inducted member of ITS in that country or an active participant in a United States troupe if he or she is an exchange student. The grant is funded by former EdTA Executive Director Ronald L. Longstreth and enables its recipient to attend the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska. Durant attends J.I. Case High School in Racine, Wisconsin, home of Thespian Troupe 8259.
“We’re thrilled to announce Justin as the Longstreth Grant recipient, and excited to welcome him to Festival,” said EdTA’s Director of Educational Programs Nancy Brown. “As we bring more students to Lincoln each year from outside the United States, we continue to ensure that the International Thespian Festival truly lives up to its name.”
This year's Leadership Grant has been awarded to Kelcie Wehrum of Jonesboro High School's Troupe 1338, in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The grant covers its recipient's travel and registration expenses for the International Thespian Festival, including the fees for Festival's leadership training programming. The grant encourages students who have demonstrated their leadership abilities through Thespian activities to further cultivate their expertise.
The Leadership Grant was created by former EdTA Board of Directors President Joe Burnsworth, who credits ITS with strengthening his leadership skills.