The Educational Theatre Association's International Thespian Society (ITS) celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2019, having been founded in Fairmont, West Virginia in 1929. The arts education advocacy group will mark their 90th year with a yearlong social media campaign that gets former Thespian Troupe members to reconnect with ITS and share how it impacted their life on social media, using the hashtags #ThespianForever, #ITS90th, and #ThespiansOfNote.
ITS was created, according to its founders, to "better high school dramatics" and recognize students who participate in them in a way that's on par with athletic programs. Students who log 100 hours of work in theatre arts become eligible for induction into ITS.
The society also provides performance, learning, scholarship, and leadership opportunities. The International Thespian Officer (ITO) program, which has been available for 30 years, offers leadership training at a national level for Thespian students.
Since its founding, ITS has inducted more than 2.3 million students—59,000 in the 2018–2019 school year alone—including Kathy Bates, John Goodman, Tom Hanks, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Laurie Metcalf, and Stephen Schwartz.
But the 90th anniversary campaign isn't about household names, instead drawing focus to the sometimes-silent majority of people in all sorts of fields with backgrounds in ITS. "This year’s celebration is a shout-out for Thespian alums everywhere to re-engage with a special time in their lives that shaped them into the people they are today," says EdTA Executive Director Julie Cohen Theobald.
For more information on the Educational Theatre Association and International Thespian Society, visit SchoolTheatre.org.