Westminster Thespian Society Attends State Conference

An exciting update from Mr. Jim Butz, drama and speech teacher

This year, we attended our first State Conference in Kansas City, Mo. Over the course of three days, students came together from all over the state of Missouri to participate in workshops, compete in competitions, listen to theatre professionals, visit with a wide arrange of representatives from various colleges and universities, watch excellent productions, and just have a lot of fun. The conference is extremely well run and professional and took place in a beautiful hotel and adjoining convention center. The whole thing was really impressive and our students represented Westminster exceptionally well.

Students competed in several categories: solo musical performance (Elizabeth Nolting, junior), independent film (Matteo Zavaglia, junior), solo monologue (Michael Lee Jr, senior), and duet scene (Ella Polski and Hannah Stevenson, seniors). Each category is adjudicated by a panel of theatre educators who rate the student’s performance on a scale of 1 (Fair) to 4 (Superior). Our students almost exclusively were awarded Superior ratings in every category. For our first year, I couldn’t be happier with those results and I am extremely proud of our student’s achievements.

The most valuable takeaway from this trip is that it is almost always a good thing to extend yourself and your program into unchartered territory. We learn by being challenged in new environments and I think our students came away knowing that we do in fact have an excellent performing arts program here at Westminster. Simultaneously, they learned that we also have room to grow, because the excellence of others can spur you on to new heights. I think the conference hit that sweet spot between being both encouraging and challenging—a “You’re doing great and there’s room to grow!”  kind of thing.

Being a part of the International Thespian Society matters because arts education matters. It changes lives.

Study after study tells us that students who are committed to the arts and receive a proper education, flourish in almost every area of their lives as a result. Arts education increases creativity, empathy, communication, literacy, the list goes on and on. It is not a cute add on or afterthought in the formation of well-rounded human beings. Arts education is indispensable. Especially as Christians, we need to be seriously committed to the arts as we seek to engage and influence the culture around us. Retreat is not an option and excellence is the goal. The International Thespian Society helps us toward that end. Thank you to all of the students who willingly gave up a weekend to work toward this endeavor!

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