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The Stevensville High School thespian troupe won Outstanding Troupe 2019 for Montana and Stevensville High School Thespian Guild Director Sarah Piper was awarded Outstanding Theater Educator for Montana at the Montana Thespian Festival last weekend.

The Montana Thespian Festival is an opportunity for students and theatre educators in Montana to travel to Missoula, perform, practice and learn with others across the state.

Sarah DeGrandpre, chapter director of the Montana Thespian Festival, said Montana Thespians is part of a larger association — the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) and hosted by the College of Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Montana (UM).

This year 19 schools attended and 15 schools performed in the Montana regional play marathon.

Stevensville planned to perform but pulled their production due to a recent tragedy. At the festival, Montana Thespians paid a tribute to the Stevensville troupe.

“It was an emotional and beautiful tribute — reminding students we are all family, we are here for each other and to love, support and build each other up,” DeGrandpre said.

The Outstanding Troupe is an award that requires detailed records of the troupe’s past three years of work, background information, a book showcasing their work and an interview about their school’s program.

“Students who complete this process and demonstrate the knowledge and ability to talk about their theatre program, why it is important and what they are most proud of will earn the Outstanding Troupe award,” DeGrandpre said.

Piper praised the theater community in Montana.

“It is a wonderful group that supports students in developing their confidence and learning how to work collaboratively and I am honored to be a part of it,” she said. “I feel lucky to have a great group of students who are willing to give up their always limited free time in order to participate in our shows, our community outreach and our workshops teaching younger students about theater.”

The Montana Outstanding Theatre Educator award is given to individuals who work with theatre students in an educational setting acting/directing, teacher/coach or a technical theatre education teacher/coach.

“Sarah Piper was awarded this work because of her work with the Stevensville Troupe, her innovative ideas and program implementation with Montana Thespians and her support of other troupes near her school,” DeGrandpre said.

Outstanding Educator is a nomination process from directors statewide.

“I am stunned to have been chosen for this award as the previous recipients are people who I always joke that I want to be when I grow up,” Piper said. “The irony of receiving Outstanding Theater Educator is that I teach math, as our school doesn’t have an in-school theatrical program.”

Piper is also the secretary of the state board of Montana Thespians.

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