As the 1950s drew to a close, the National Thespian Society achieved another milestone: the chartering of Thespian Troupe 2000 at Union High School in California.

WHEN CHARTER 1990 was granted to White Hall, Illinois, High School on May 21, we here at National Headquarters felt that we were within passing distance of that goal-reaching milestone, Charter 2000, by the close of our fiscal year on June 30. However, we were also aware that we might not reach this goal before the end of our fiscal year, which would then mean that granting of Charter 2000 would not be possible until after January 1, 1960. Thus each mail was opened with anticipation — and in some cases despair. Charter 1991, 1992, 1993 — then a dearth of new applications for the next several days. Would the closing of the school terms of so many schools place our goal beyond our ever-increasing steps?

On June 4, Charter 1999 was on its way to a school in Wisconsin, and on June 5 a special delivery letter arrived from Monterey, California, from Union High School with an application for charter and a request to mail all material for the installation on June 10. Charter 2000 was granted — a goal set nine years ago by June 1960!

When I assumed this office of executive secretary and treasurer in 1950, I set up a 10-year plan: Troupe 2000 by 1960, an average circulation of Dramatics of 32,000, a new office building for National Headquarters, and a reserve fund in excess of $75,000. Thus after nine years, not 10, all these goals were passed. Our national membership is now 2,005; our anticipated average monthly circulation of Dramatics for the coming school year, 33,000; a new office building at 1610 Marlowe, Cincinnati, Ohio; and a reserve fund in excess of $80,000. We passed all milestones on our climb to new heights. By 1966, Charter 3000 should be granted to some school somewhere in the United States.

I, then sponsor of Troupe 520 at the William Penn Senior High School in York, Pennsylvania, and Jean Donahey, sponsor of Troupe 187 at Brashear Jt. Senior High School in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, presented Charter 1000 to Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, Senior High School in fall 1950. As your secretary-treasurer, I was determined to present Charter 2000 in person to Monterey Union High School. Time was short — June 5 to June 10 — but I made it thanks to American Airlines.

I left Cincinnati on June 9 at 11:30 a.m. and arrived at Monterey at 8:30 p.m. to be greeted at the airport by Curtis Cureton, sponsor of Troupe 2000, and about six of his prospective student charter members. I was tremendously impressed with the interest and enthusiasm of the group.

And now the installation and initiation. I had the pleasure of presenting the official charter to Carl MacDonald, principal, and of participating in the initiation. Eldon Covell, superintendent of Monterey schools, was another of the distinguished guests present for the occasion. Karen Beswick and Sue Brandly presented a superb scene from Maxwell Anderson’s Mary of Scotland, and Allene Venegas did a moving dramatic interpretation of Rod Serling’s Requiem for a Heavyweight. This memorable ceremony closed with a brief social hour at which time I was honored by cutting the first piece from the two congratulatory cakes. Like Upper Darby’s charter presentation, my participation in presenting Charter 2000 will remain a cherished memory as long as I live.

The student charter members of Troupe 2000 are as follows: Peter Sandholdt, Mary Scarcella, Rita Genetti, Barbara Samora, Brenda Billings, Sharon Winchester, Eddie Burns, Karen Beswick, Mariel Stratton, Allene Venegas, Kathy Brown, Cherie Baker, Benita Helmlinger, Susan Brandly, and Ted Malate, past president of the drama club, who presided over the ceremony. Prospective Thespians also participated in the installation.

Mr. Cureton received more than 50 congratulatory telegrams and special delivery and air mail letters from our National Council, board of trustees, regional directors, and sponsors. According to Mr. Cureton, “They will be retained as a permanent memento of our place in the society’s history.”

Quoting further from Mr. Cureton’s letter of August 3, “Troupe 2000 plans now to serve as a nucleus for an expanded speech arts and drama program. Plans for 1959-60 include production of two full-length shows (The Diary of Anne Frank and possibly a musical — Sing Out Sweet Land or Carousel) as well as an indefinite number of one-acts; sponsorship of two speech arts tournaments (in Coast Forensic League and Coast Counties Forensic League of California); and one drama festival, plus community speaker bureau work, radio production, speech contest, and debate activities. Our program is dedicated to both an expansion of our program and a continuation of that high-quality work which has been our standard in the past. Thespian affiliation will help us maintain this standard and should motivate the dramatic and speech art student in his performance of even finer work. We are grateful for this opportunity of serving a national society dedicated to the offering of a more vigorous dramatic program for the secondary school student. My bet is 3,000 by 1966!”

Troupe 2000 is further formulating plans to attend our National Conference at Indiana University the week of June 20, 1960.

Flying quietly and smoothly through the night in one of the American Airlines new jet planes, I reviewed my activities of the day in beautiful Monterey. I could come to only one conclusion: Charter 2000 is in good hands and at the right school.

This story appeared in the October 1959 print version of Dramatics. Learn about the print magazine and other Thespian benefits on the International Thespian Society website.

International Thespian Society 90th birthday logo
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