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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for support materials that can help establish a troupe a new school.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 our guide on awarding thespian points 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:
Junior Thespian Point System Summary:
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.
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.
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
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
Troupes with active membership status may induct new members as often as they choose. The steps for inducting new Thespians are as follows:
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).
“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.”
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.
Troupe directors should update the Honor Rank field on their Thespians’ online profiles regularly by the end of each ITS academic year, July 31.
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:
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.
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
Guidelines for the Thespian Pin and Ribbon System (all points are cumulative)
|Thespian Points Earned||Honor Item and Signification|
Thespian Induction Pin
Thespian Honors Ribbon, Scholar Pin, and/or Officer Pin may be worn with the Induction Pin
1st Thespian Point Star is attached to the Thespian Honors Ribbon
2nd Thespian Point Star attached to Thespian Honors Ribbon
3rd Thespian Point Star attached to Thespian Honors Ribbon
4th Thespian Point Star attached to Thespian Honors Ribbon
Honor Thespian Pin attached to Thespian Honors Ribbon
One Thespian Point Star attached to Thespian Honors Ribbon for each additional 10 points earned in addition to Honor Thespian Pin.
National Honor Thespian Pin replaces Honor Thespian Pin
One Thespian Point Star attached to Thespian Honors Ribbon for each additional 10 points earned in addition to National Honor Thespian Pin
International Honor Thespian Pin replaces National Honor Thespian Pin
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|
Junior Thespian Induction Pin
Thespian Honors Ribbon, Scholar Pin, and/or Officer Pin may be worn with the Induction Pin
1st Junior Thespian Point Star is attached to the Junior Thespian Honors Ribbon
One Junior Thespian Point Star is attached to the Junior Thespian Honors Ribbon for each additional 10 points earned
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.
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.
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.
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.
For detailed information about the use of logos, including color options, editing/distorting, and use/placement, see the International Thespian Society branding library.
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 alum, Junior 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 Festival, the International Thespian Society, rather than The International Thespian Festival, The International Thespian Society.
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