By: STO Folarin Oyeleye, Foster High School, Troupe 7961; STO Maleah Minyard, John Horn High School, Troupe 6292
Ah summer, a wonderful chance to unplug and go out. Taking this to heart, your beloved STOs did just that! From the confined digital boxes of Zoom to finally meeting each other in person, we bonded with one another and tackled our projects for the upcoming year. So, grab a log to sit on as we regale the tales of the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch experience!
Day 1: Huh, I Thought You Were Taller?
Arriving at around 12:30, we all made our way to the conference room— the place where we did a majority of our work. Finally being together in one room almost felt surreal. After a bit of awkwardness, everyone’s preconceptions of each other slowly fell away, and we came to be quite merry. However, we soon entered work mode. Especially considering it was almost time to present our festival theme to the Texas Thespians’ Chapter Director, Amy Jordan. With the presentation over, we got a chance to head to our rooms and unpack. Soon after that, we were back in the conference room, eager to soak up our upcoming lesson in leadership. Having drilled a valuable lesson about the various types of leaders, Ms. Morgan motioned us towards our last activity for the day: a compass course. Once the sunset, we went into the woods using compasses to guide us from the first checkpoint to the campfire. Then once everyone arrived, we ate smores and headed back to our cabins for some shut-eye.
Day 2: New Job, Who Dis?
With the dawn of a new day upon us, we all got ready for the second day of camp. To kick things off, we had a few team-building exercises. Jumping into a circular padlock, giving a greedy gnome a diamond, and surviving in shark-infested waters. These trials, albeit very grand, were no match for our combined wit! It only took about...3 or more tries, but even in failure, we stood proud! With team-building complete, we went back to the conference room for our second lesson in leadership. After that, all the STOs got assigned their official jobs! As soon as we finished with those, we split up into our new groups. Each group was responsible for establishing their goals for the year and working on their respective assignments. This work format carried on into the night. Once the groups finished, they were allowed to turn in for the night.
Day 3: A Lot Happened
Time for day three! After breakfast, we began working on the presentation for our August 3rd and 7th leadership days. Stopping halfway for notes, we took some time to edit our work before continuing to present. As we finished presenting, Mr. Goodman (the State Festival Director) and Ms. Gette (the Junior Festival Director) came in to talk about what they needed for the festival and to add to the ideas we already had. The conversation was mainly around how to work the theme in various ways. But also lightly touched on keynote speakers and honor troupes. With the plans all laid out, our meeting came to an end. Soon we were busy getting ready to take pictures for the website (which you should check out in the STO Corner on the Texas Thespians’ website or our Instagram @texasthespians). Once we finished the professional pictures, we all got together to get some fun ones, just for keepsakes. Once we finished dinner, we went back to working on our projects and called it a day a bit earlier to allow time to finish recordings and pack up the conference room.
Day 4: John Newcombe, I Bid Thee Farewell
And finally, the dreaded, yet longed for, final day. We made our way to the conference room and immediately hit the ground running. We banged out the last few recordings and pictures needed before clearing out of the conference room to a smaller meeting area. As soon as we cleared the conference room, we went to clean out our rooms. As soon as we had all our items, we began to work one last time on our leadership presentation. Once we finished, everyone said their goodbyes and went home.
Getting to spend time with one another in person was a truly wonderful experience. We worked hard, laughed harder, and deepened our bond with one another. Chilling by yourself can be fun, but if you can go out and be with people, make sure you seize that opportunity because we can’t be the only ones having fun. So go out and have fun knowing that you have a wonderful year of theatre planned out and waiting for you.
Your 2021 Texas State Thespian Officers