WEST CALDWELL, NJ - "Find your specific goal, whether you choose to see every version of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream or experience every play written by one special playwright,” was the advice of Rachel Evans, Theatre Education Coordinator and Assistant Professor at Kean University, when she spoke to nine students at James Caldwell High School, West Caldwell, on Thursday, February 6, when they made history, becoming the first students to be inducted into the International Thespian Society at the school. The ceremony, held at the school’s Center for Performing Arts, was led by the school’s theatre arts teacher and musical director, Jensyn Modero. Modero also teaches drama at Grover Cleveland Middle School, Caldwell, and is a former student of Evans.
The event, organized by Modero and attended by administrators, board of education members, staff, parents and students from throughout the district, also included performances by each inductee, showcasing their talents. Students earn an invitation to be inducted into the Thespian Society by earning points from any activity performed in the community. One point is equal to ten hours of excellent work. To be eligible for membership in the troupe, a student must obtain a minimum of ten points. These points must be earned in a minimum of two productions and must be from two different production areas (i.e., acting and stage management).
The nine students, seniors Brendan Cullinane, John Franek, Nicole Garamella, Sara Goltsch, Alyssa LaMedica, Natalie Tietjen and Taryn Urban; and juniors Anna Rizzotti and Dante Savanello; each earned between 40 and 150 points each.
The International Thespian Society (ITS) is the Educational Theatre Association’s student honorary organization, recognizing the achievements of high school and middle school theatre students. Since 1929, more than 2 million Thespians have been inducted into ITS, with more than 36,000 students from around the country being inducted each year. Actors and actresses are called thespians in honor of Thespis, a Greek playwright and performer. Around 535 B.C., Thespis added a new dimension to drama by stepping out of the Greek chorus during a performance and reciting portions of the text alone, becoming the first actor. He is also credited with inventing the theatrical mask.
“My high school did not have a Thespian Society,” said Modero. “I hope that each of you will cherish this and make your own mark on the world. Be creative, be strong and be yourselves. Show everyone else how incredible I already know that you are.”