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The Educational Theatre Association keeps students and teachers at the center of our programming with opportunities for development, recognition, and advocacy. Explore some of the many ways we honor student and educator achievement, and build access to theatre education opportunities as part of our mission and vision.

Recognition Programs

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International Thespian Society

The International Thespian Society (ITS) is the only theatre honor society for middle and high school students. Affiliation brings credibility and distinction to students, theatre programs, and schools. ITS recognizes, rewards, and encourages student achievement and celebrates the work of students in all aspects of theatre.

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ITS offers pathways to leadership at the troupe, chapter, and international levels. Each chapter may appoint a student delegate to serve on the International Thespian Student Leadership Council, which elects and is led by six International Thespian Officers who represent the student voice within EdTA.

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International Thespian Excellence Awards

Broadway has the Tonys, Hollywood has the Oscars®, and Thespians have the Thespys®! The International Thespian Excellence Awards (or Thespys for short) recognize the highest level of achievement in school theatre performance, technical theatre, writing, and filmmaking.

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The Educational Theatre Association bestows a variety of awards annually to recognize individuals and schools making outstanding contributions to the field of theatre education. These include the Stephen Schwartz Musical Theatre Teacher of the Year Award and Hall of Fame Award, among many others.

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Thespians have the opportunity to apply for scholarships exclusively for ITS inductees, offering international recognition and financial support for their college studies. These include merit-based scholarships especially for Thespians of color and aspiring theatre educators.

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Thespians passionate about making a difference will find their chance to shine in Democracyworks, EdTA’s annual essay competition designed to grow student advocacy in theatre education. Each year, students submit inspiring essays on a timely prompt surrounding the value of arts education. Winners receive prizes and recognition, including the chance to participate in the National Arts Action Summit.

Access-Building Programs

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JumpStart Theatre

The JumpStart Theatre program creates sustainable theatre arts programs in underserved middle schools where there were none. Participant schools are chosen based on a rigorous application process and receive materials, budget, and training support to produce their first full-scale musical production. The support continues for three straight years until the program becomes sustainable.

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Pathway aims to enhance the school theatre experience and impact in communities facing racial disparity by creating opportunities for students to work with industry professionals of color while performing works that encourage dialogue around racial equity.


Theatre In Our Schools Month

Throughout March, thousands of students and theatre educators join together in raising awareness about the impact of theatre education. Help spread the message to your communities (physical and virtual), school boards, and elected officials that school theatre teaches vital 21st-century skills.

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The Educational Theatre Foundation’s grant programs provide need-based financial assistance for students and teachers to participate in EdTA and ITS programs, including the International Thespian Festival. Thespian Relief Grants help schools maintain their troupes, induct students, and even cover production costs.

Program News