Thirteen drama students from Stansbury High School have qualified to attend the International Thespian Festival this summer, but must first earn the money to make the trip.
SHS took 23 students to the Utah Thespian Competition at Brighton High School on March 2. This competition was the precursor for the Individual Events Showcase at the International Thespian Festival that will be held at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., in June.
The 13 students who qualified were seniors Ryan Pettingill, Ehlana Durfee and Dominick Sellers, and freshman Madison Olsen for overall superior contrasting monologues; senior Kati Ditty and junior Tage Gould for straight superiors duet acting; juniors Jacob Handy and Jonathan Brandaris, as well as juniors Ben Judd and Chloe Clarke, for overall superiors duet acting; Ehlana Durfee and junior Logan McBride for overall superior musical theater duet; and freshman Lalenia Durfee for straight superior stage management.
For the second year in a row, SHS had more students qualify for the international competition than any other high school in the state.
Glen Carpenter, SHS drama director, feels the reason why more students from SHS make it to the national competition each year is because they love earning a place in the spotlight.
“My students all love my program and love the chance to show off,” he said. “Honestly, drama doesn’t get a lot of attention and this is their chance to get the attention they’d like to have.”
Last year, 17 students qualified for the international festival, but only one SHS student, Spencer Lawson, went to the competition because he paid his own way. Lawson earned first place in theatrical marketing.
“We qualified 17 students last year, but there was no way to raise the money last year,” Carpenter said. “This year we are going to do it no matter what.”
The drama students are working to raise approximately $13,000 so that all 13 of them and two advisers can go to the week-long festival. Each student needs to raise around $900, Carpenter said.
The students will ask local businesses for sponsorships, as well as host restaurant nights during which they will ask restaurants to give them a percentage of their sales on certain evenings. In addition, the students will host a community barbecue and benefit nights, during which they will provide dinner and a show.
Carpenter said the International Thespian Society is an honor society for drama students, and is a prestigious society to be a part of. The International Thespian Society has been honoring excellence in the work of theater students since 1929.
There are more than 3,900 high schools and middle schools worldwide that are part of the society. Around 50 colleges from across the U.S. participate in the festival by giving students auditions, interviews and callbacks.
“Just like any other honor society, kids need to earn their way into it by participating and by being a member of it,” said Carpenter. “They get invitations to different workshops throughout the year and get the opportunity to apply for scholarships. At the competition we want to go to in June, my students that are juniors have the opportunity to audition for schools that are outside Utah and are internationally ranked. They get to audition for the best of the best for college.”
For more information or to donate to the students’ trip fund, contact Carpenter at firstname.lastname@example.org.