Dearest Thespian Troupe Members & Parents:
On our recent Spring Break State Festival Trip there were students who made the decision to bring alcohol on our trip. There were also students who participated in or knew of the infraction and did not stop other students from carrying out this dangerous and illegal behavior. This could have caused our entire troupe to be put on probation by the State Thespian organization for two years. But more importantly, underage drinking is not a safe or acceptable behavior, especially when the students signed a pledge that they would be substance free on this particular trip. Having students engaging in risky behavior and others “keeping this secret” does not promote a cohesive ensemble mentality, and we cannot be our best as performers unless we are united as a troupe.
I was proud of some of our troupe members who came forward to alert me and/or were honest about their behavior during the State Festival. My hope is that we are ushering in a new era of honesty and making wise choices individually and as a troupe.
Our 2016/17 season in Leon Theatre involved plays that focused on how we should ACT in LOVE vs. REACT in FEAR. In light of this theme, I would like to offer an ACT of LOVE, a way forward for some students to begin to build back my trust in them, and a way for all of our troupe to learn some valuable lessons about making good choices.
Machelle Madsen Thompson, PhD, LCSW, was a chaperone on the State trip, she also teaches at FSU and is a licensed counselor with a wealth of knowledge about brain development. She has been following all the newest research into the formation of the teenage brain. There is scientific evidence that shows how exposure to alcohol during these crucial years negatively impacts brain growth. She is going to be offering an after school seminar for my Thespian Troupe members, parents, and any other interested students on Tuesday, APRIL 11th 3:00-4:30 in the Theatre Classroom.
Students/Parents/Anyone can REGISTER FOR TEENAGE BRAIN SEMINAR to sign up for the TUESDAY, APRIL 11th 3:00-4:30 seminar.
As another ACT of LOVE, I will be providing pizza, snacks, and sodas for all who attend this seminar, so I will need to know how many people will be there. This is not a punishment for students, it should be an interesting and lively discussion. I want the BEST for all of these students and I know that underage drinking, sneaking around chaperones, and lying does not create the BEST opportunities for them to develop as human beings. I am not willing to take students on overnight trips who blatantly disregard the rules and put themselves, others, and our troupe in jeopardy. Students who brought alcohol, participated, or knew about it and did nothing will not be allowed to audition for Districts next year unless they have won back my trust. Attending this seminar will be the first step toward that happy ending. We are one of the few Leon County schools that attends the State Festival as the risk of what can happen on this trip can outweigh the rewards of the opportunities offered. I cannot and will not take students out of town unless the students (and their parents) understand and support a zero tolerance stance on illegal/harmful behavior. Thank you for your continued support for Leon Theatre, our Thespian Troupe, and the well being of these wonderful students!