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Caldwell Students Inducted into International Thespian Society

ITS inductees Taryn Urban, John Franek, junior Anna Rizzotti, seniors Nicole Garamella, Natalie Tietjen, junior Dante Savanello, seniors Sara Goltsch, Brendan Cullinane, Alyssa LaMedica, with musical director Jensyn Modero / Photo provided
ITS inductees Taryn Urban, John Franek, junior Anna Rizzotti, seniors Nicole Garamella, Natalie Tietjen, junior Dante Savanello, seniors Sara Goltsch, Brendan Cullinane, Alyssa LaMedica, with musical director Jensyn Modero / Photo provided
Nine students made history on Thursday, Feb. 6, when they became the first students to be inducted into the International Thespian Society at James Caldwell High School in West Caldwell.

The ceremony, held at the school’s Center for Performing Arts, was led by the school’s theater arts teacher and musical director, Jensyn Modero. Modero also teaches drama at Grover Cleveland Middle School in Caldwell.

The event, organized by Modero and attended by administrators, board of education members, staff, parents and students from throughout the district, also featured Rachel Evans, theater education coordinator and assistant professor at Kean University, and a former teacher of Modero. Evans challenged the inductees to make their mark and find their goal as a Thespian.

“Find your specific goal,” said Evans. “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.”

The ceremony, which also included performances by each inductee, showcased the talents and diversity of the students.

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 earned between 40 and 150 points each.

The International Thespian Society 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.”

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