As I reflect the events of last week, all I can think is WOW! How thankful I am to have had the opportunities I've had, friends I've met and experiences I've had because of this week long event!

I'm going to go WAY BACK.... back to 2002. I was in Eighth Grade and I had chosen to do a solo mime piece for the first Junior Thespian Festival, a three day event which was held in Pittsburgh, PA. My middle school was also chosen to present our show, "Give and Take," by Michael Scanlan, which I can still remember performing. I had just been inducted as a Junior Thespian that Fall 2001 and my brother was born just before the school year. 

So back to Junior Thespian Festival, I went with much excitement and nervousness going. I had worked hard on my solo mime piece as well as continually go over lines for the play and taking as meeting as many people as I could. Two fellow middle schoolers stood out, my friends from Westerville, OH; Dayle and Megan. We were in the "Yellow," group, which the theme for the festival was, "Show us your colors!" Also two more very important people I met were at the festival, Nancy and Gloria. These two amazing people were inspirations to me. Nancy, who made the festival happen and Gloria, was my judge for my solo mime piece. Which during my Solo Mime piece, I was nervous as any other teenager could be performing and getting critiqued. My cassette tape (yup back in the day when they were still in use, lol) wasn't rewound and there I was looking like a fool. I felt like my world was over and I failed. Gloria however was calm and polite and just told me to rewind it and start again. So I did and well...I made callbacks for being a performer at the end of the conference....I remember hearing and seeing the other solo mime performer go and really thought I didn't have a chance...but I still went on and performed. Somehow I was chosen and I was ecstatic to perform for my peers the piece I had worked on so hard. The whole festival was so amazing! I thought that was it, there isn't anything else to do after this. Also another person stood out at the is conference, some high school girl who followed Nancy around and was like the MC for the show. I was annoyed by her but I would soon later realize this high school girl and I would soon have a similar experience we both would share. But at different times.

As we were driving back from PA to MI, my beloved teacher Mrs. C, went over our critiques with us on the bus ride. However she was very proud of three of her students; Katherine, Maya and myself. Mrs. C said three of her students received a Superior at Junior Thespian Festival (which from now on be referred to as JTF) and was eligible to attend the International Thespian Festival (which from now on be referred to as ITF). I was in complete excitement, I couldn't believe there was another place I could experience theatre! Then Mrs. C, said she was really proud of me because I received a perfect score on my solo mime. Let me tell you, I was not expecting to get all Superior, I was expecting a "good" or an "excellent" but all Superiors?!?! I was baffled and also very humbled that my hard worked paid off. I seriously thought I was going to be grilled on technique and character, but I apparently did well.

While back as an Eighth Grader in East, I was then given the choice of furthering my opportunity in Theatre or take an AWESOME trip for orchestra/choir to Mackinaw. Let me tell you if I could I would have done both. But in the end I decided to cancel my check in going to Mackinaw to go to ITF! Which many of my friends were surprised I didn't choose to go, but ITF felt honestly like a once in a lifetime opportunity to go. Plus, when would I ever get the chance to go back again. I had worked hard asking for donations and sponsorships. Which thanks to Mrs. C I learned many skills I still have today.

So my first ITF, it was surreal, only Mrs. C and I went from our troupe. I thought I would know NO ONE! I was wrong, remember Megan, Dayle and Caitlin? Yeah a few paragraphs up, they were at ITF! Their middle school went and brought a one act to perform! I pretty much hung out with them as well as with some high school students! It was all surreal. I was experiencing so much theatre and for a week! What more could I have asked for? I even performed my solo mime piece and I was very out of my element, but I learned so much because of it.

Then I entered high school....Theatre was something I know I wanted to do but I also had other aspirations. Also I was overly involved. But thankfully by the end of my freshman year we established our Thespian Troupe at Harrison. Troupe #6513! But nothing really happened afterwards...Sophomore year went by...not much UNTIL JTF 2004 when it so happens that my middle school was hosting the event! I couldn't believe it! However I did remember a member from EdTA checking out our school as a possible host school my eighth grade year after JTF and before ITF.

I, coursed helped with the event! I was a co-team play create director with one of my classmates. It was fun our theme was Antartica, and I'll be honest our group WAS the BEST! Then I ran into another high school girl wearing this yellow sash and was an emcee for our event. Just like the girl two years earlier. Then it was finally explained, the girl was an International Thespian Officer (ITO for short). This girl was from PA and taught a dance workshop during JTF 04. I got to know her and found out about ITO and what they do. Of course once I found this out, I was completely amazed and fascinated by the possibility of becoming one and making a big impact.

Then that summer, I was thankful enough to be able to attend my second ITF and this team it wasn't just Mrs. C and myself. But an actual group! It was fun and interesting. I was the only high schooler at the time and then there were middle school. But that's beside the point. Still had an amazing time! I woke up EARLY every morning at 7:45 attending the leadership workshop at ITF 04. I campaigned and met even more amazing people. I really got to know the ITO and what they did. I really wanted to be involved really bad with Thespians and EdTA. I worked really hard to try and win Region IV position. There were two other people running and I really thought I did a good job in my campaign, however I didn't win. I was crushed! I felt like my life was over, however after ITF, I maintained good contact with the upcoming year's ITO and one even lived in Michigan. I made sure I'd work really hard to build up my credentials but also confidence in being a leader. After that ITF I literally worked my butt improving my leadership, continued loving theatre and being an academically minded student.

Summer 2005 and again went to ITF. By this point my friends thought I was crazy for going to a week of theatre camp. But at this point it was obvious that my friend had other aspirations with their life other than theatre. However my life was theatre and I loved going to a week long event of theatre! So again I went with my middle school troupe director Mrs. C and only one other student. An incoming freshman Dylan and his dad. I definitely tried hard to win this year. I was a junior going into my senior year, it was my last shot. I even had help along the way too. People were wondering whether or not I'd be running as well as what position. It was good to know I had people actually remembering who the heck I was and actually hoping I'd run. It felt reassuring that I was doing the right thing in running and doing my best into running. I applied for Publications Editor/Secretary/Webmaster position for ITO. It was against one other person, a girl from I honestly can't remember now. But as always with anything involving campaign and running for a position there is politics. Of course I played them too, but I hope that I had played it fairly, I'd like to think I did. There was some kid interested in running for Region IV that year but just didn't get his stuff in on time. Little did I know that person would become my best friend and I would completely forget meeting him that year. Fast forward to Saturday, they've already announced the regional representatives the previous day. Which were Casey, Ryan, Lee and Siri; while today we were electing who were our Chair and Pubs Ed/Sec/Web. I of course throughout that whole week, went over and over my speech. Making sure I was on time and stating what I wanted to say. I felt very confident but also very worried that I'd lose again. However with the politics of elections and trusting in my fellow peers, I had somehow won! I originally wasn't going to tell Mrs. C that I had one, but I really couldn't hide that secret from her. She was ecstatic to hear I won! It was definitely a lot of work paying off.

Which was only the beginning....

I'll blog more, but I'm getting tired! But you can tell that ITF definitely has been a life changer for me and my experiences in theatre!