What can we say? It was awesome! The blizzard and the wisdom gained were equally overwhelming & beautiful. Thank you to CYT, Inc. staff for organizing such an informative and unifying event. And thanks to CYT NYC for hosting!


You, too, can rock one of these CYT beanies! Grab one at the online CYT Store.


Some awesome welcome gifts from CYT NYC!

We prayed for, praised, & encouraged one another. We revisited the CYT Model and why it works (Hint: it was designed by CYT Leadership FOR CYT Leadership to provide the best opportunity to achieve our mission.)

We reflected on our 2016 verse:

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We shared challenges and triumphs. And all left feeling inspired and called to action to continue making CYT our favorite place to be.

If you are CYT Leadership and need the materials shared at NLC, please email Heather at:


Getting excited to head to the Big Apple for the CYT National Leadership Conference (NLC)? Here are some more NLC 2016 deets from big wig CYT Inc Director or Operations, Dr. Heather LaForge

1. Who will be there?

55 leaders from across the country! The NLC is such a great conference. Although, I love EXPO for all its excitement and the energy of the students, there’s something really special about the NLC. It’s the one time a year that we get to really focus on leadership. I’m looking forward to a weekend of good conversations; brainstorming with fellow leaders; and of course, fun.


Super serious NLC Meeting at EXPO in summer 2015.


2. What are the highlights of this year’s NLC?

This year we’re really trying to keep our talks discussion based, which allows folks the chance to share ideas and learn from one another. We also will be meeting with an MTI staffer, who will be providing insight into how royalties work. But perhaps the most exciting thing is that we will be LiveStreaming our talk about EXPO 2016! Anyone can hope online and listen in to learn more about what’s going to happen this year at EXPO. We have a Facebook event here, if you want to learn more!

CYT Inc.'s Director of Technology, Travis Russell, will be back at NLC this year for awesome discussion & inspiration

CYT Inc.’s Director of Technology, Travis Russell, will be back at NLC this year for awesome discussion & inspiration

3. What Broadway show are you seeing?

I’m seeing Finding Neverland with the group, but I’m also planning to see Matilda, and maybe The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I want to see a ton of other shows, but I don’t think the planner of the event should skip out on the conference. Nor, do I want to!

4. What should affiliate leadership expect from this year’s NLC?

They should expect a gathering of amazing people where ideas are shared, discussion flows, and training occurs. Our hope is that leaders leave the conference feeling encouraged and armed with new ideas for the year ahead.


CYT 2015 in Lafayette, LA

5. NYC is such an amazing location for the NLC! Anything NYC specific planned for the NLC?

There are loads of CYT Alumni who live in the city and we wanted to make sure they had an opportunity to participate in the NLC. So, Thursday night, we are hosting an alumni gathering for any and all CYT alumni who happen to be in the area. We want to see everyone! More information on that event can be found here!

Can’t wait for the NLC in NYC! Start spreading the news…

Resolutions: Do you ask Google or God?

It’s a new year and as we all ushered in 2016 (joyfully or otherwise!), many of us also conjured up a “New Year’s Resolution” or two…or three…. I’m one of those people who tends to phrase my resolutions as “attempts to try.” Example: “I will try to gossip less. I will try to eat more healthily. I will try to be on time this year.” I’ve told myself this is a sensible and reasonable approach. However, the truth is, by phrasing resolutions this way, I’m giving myself an easy out. Come March (or, let’s be honest, February), when I’ve already abandoned a resolution, I can say, “Well, at least I tried to not gossip. At least, I tried to eat healthier. At least, I tried to be on time. Get off my back, at least, I tried!!” Pretty smart, huh?


Screenshot of my Google search for “resolution definition”

However, my recent Google Search (screenshot above), yielded quite the abrupt realization that resolutions are, by their definition, rather rigid and marked departures from the way things once were. They are not ambiguous. They reflect a definitive end & a new beginning: “a firm decision” and the “solving (of) a problem”. Yikes. The stakes just got a lot higher in my plan for 2016. Google says that resolutions not just be “attempts to try” but rather “decisions to do”. But, what does God say?

Anyone else ask Google before they ask God? No? Just me? Well, maybe that’s why my resolutions so often fail. I look without rather than within. I often resolve to force a conclusion rather than commit to a journey. But, in doing so, I realized that I am suggesting that I know best. I’m suggesting that I know what 2016 needs to be and what needs to happen, rather than asking God what He needs from me in 2016.

So, this year, I’m going to try DO something new. I’m going to borrow from my pal, St. Francis, and resolve to let God use me for His plan rather than my own. What is His goal & how can I serve Him? I’ve always loved the prayer of St. Francis and I offer it here to you, so that maybe you will be inspired to also resolve yourself to God’s plan for 2016.

The Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

Ah…I’m feeling better about March already!

What’s your resolution? Share it here.










You are enough.

The following story was submitted by Tessa S., from CYT Spokane, as part of the 2016 My CYT Story Contest. 


        My whole life I’ve never felt like I actually belonged to something. I spent year after year trying new activities, hoping to fit in someplace. I spent years trying to figure out where I belonged, where I could be myself. It wasn’t until my eighth grade year that I found it. A friend of mine convinced me to audition for The Little Mermaid Jr., and when I walked onstage for the first time I knew that I had found my place. However, it wasn’t until I was a part of Honk Jr., that I truly felt like I belonged.

          During those two years being a part of CYT [Spokane], I was depressed, insecure, and felt like an outsider. Then, I auditioned for Honk Jr. and the show quickly became my favorite. I was relating to a young duckling that was experiencing the same feelings I felt. This duckling had been bullied and trusted the wrong people, something that many of us experience. Ugly had felt left out and alone. With the heavy subject matter, how could someone not relate or love this show?

         After that show, my life changed. I slowly became more confident and realized that I didn’t have to be like everyone else to fit in. After that show, I realized that it was okay to be weird and different and to not have everyone like you. CYT had shown me that being a part of something didn’t mean I had to have a bunch of friends that I had pretended to like; it meant having one or two people that liked me for me. CYT had given me a family, a purpose, a way to live my life. After opening night of Honk, my best friend came up to me and said “I’m glad CYT did this show. It shows that being yourself is enough” I couldn’t agree more. I want everyone who reads this to know that my friend was right. Being yourself is enough! You are enough. You do not have to be something you are not because certain people don’t like you. CYT has shown me time and time again that being yourself is what matters. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get a lead, or even cast in the play at all, as long as you stay true to yourself and be who you were meant to be and who God wants you to be.  That is what matters and will get you much further in life than wishing to be someone else or pretending to be something that you are not. CYT taught me that being yourself is enough.

Do you have a CYT story to share? Submit it here!

*DISCLAIMER: Though, all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective area’s leadership for judging as part of the 2016 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

CYT Needs You!

Have you ever dreamed of working for CYT? Or perhaps you don’t know much about CYT, but you’re looking for an environment where talent is celebrated, family is valued, and work is done with excellence, integrity, and FUN! Look no further, CYT is on the search for a Technologies Assistant. Contact Travis Russell at with resume and/or inquiries.


Title: Technologies Assistant
Basic Function: Responsible for Support Tickets, Website, Software, and Resources Portal
Immediate Supervisor: Director of Technologies
Give Direction To: N/A
Expected Hours: 20 hours per week
Pay: $20/hr.


  • Must have organization skills
  • Ability to manage support request, customer service
  • Knowledge of task and schedule management
  • Knowledge of Graphic Design Programs including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign
  • Knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL

Operational Tasks

  • Management of graphic projects (calendaring)
  • Website development, maintenance, and training
  • Software development and maintenance
  • Development of CYT Resources (online materials and resources)
  • Marketing Resources (quarterly and as needed)
  • Ad Hoc Communications and Digital tasks as assigned by Director of Technologies.
  • NLC/EXPO technical support and prep for the event (lighting, sound, technical)

Behavioral Standards:

  • Understand CYT Mission Statement and Values and Objective and be willing to incorporate them when performing job-related tasks.
  • Acknowledge CYT’s goal to do business as the “friendliest place on earth” and agree to perform all job-related duties in support of this goal.
  • A desire and ability to model strong moral characteristics in all work-related duties.
  • Ability to work well with people and as a team member.

All New! 2016 My CYT Story Competition

One of the great things about CYT is that no matter who you are, young or old, you leave each CYT experience with a new story to share. We think the world should hear those stories, and so, we are now taking submissions for the CYT Blog to publish your own personal “My CYT Story”!

Who should submit a CYT Story? Anyone who has ever had any experience with CYT… EVER! Students, alumni, teachers, directors, patrons, cast, crew, staff members, and any other friend of CYT, these stories are for you to write and the world to read. And the cool thing is, you can submit over and over again! Click HERE to submit your story to be considered for the CYT National blog!

Now on to the contest. Current CYT students (ages 11-18) may opt to have their story (or stories) entered in this year’s My CYT Story Competition and possibly win free registration to the 2016 CYT EXPO! Check out our 4th Annual My CYT Story Competition below!

It’s the same contest as years past, but with new opportunities! Keep reading for the deets on this year’s contest and how YOU can be part of it.


The My CYT Story Competition celebrates everything that makes CYT great (psst, it’s you!)! Anyone can do youth theatre, but there is something special about CYT. Did CYT change your life or teach you something new about yourself? Do you have a CYT Story to share? We want to hear it! Follow the steps below to submit your stories for the 2016 My CYT Story Competition:

  1. Make sure your are a current CYT student who is at least 11 years old.
  2. Think of your favorite CYT story.
  3. Submit your story right here! You can attach up to 4 images to accompany your story. (You can also click on the Submit a Story link at the top left corner of this blog anytime.)
  4. Click “Yes!” when you get to part on the form that asks, “Would you like your story to be submitted into the 2016 National My CYT Story Competition?”
  5. Make sure to get your submission in by March 1st, 2016. (Entries received after this date, will be forwarded to the 2017 contest, assuming submissions still meet the My CYT Story Competition entry requirements.)
  6. There is no limit to the number of submissions you can make.

Not only will we be posting your stories for the world to see, right here on the National CYT Blog, but your local CYT area leadership will be sifting through them as well and selecting the 2016 My CYT Story Regional Winners! Each Regional Winner will win free registration to the 2016 CYT EXPO in San Diego!

The 2016 My CYT Story Regional Winners will be announced by May 6, 2016.

The 2016 My CYT Story National Winner will be selected from the Regional Winners and announced at the 2016 CYT EXPO in San Diego, CA. The National winner gets not only endless bragging rights, a cool accolade on their college application, and a feature story on the National CYT Blog, but also an exclusive My CYT Story National Winner button and a free CYT sweatshirt from the CYT store!

So, c’mon! Click here and submit those stories!

Need some inspiration? Check out the 2015 My CYT Story National Winner, Alexandra Gandy’s, story here. Or click on the My CYT Story tag below and read through all of the winners.

*DISCLAIMER: Though, all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective area’s leadership for judging as part of the 2016 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story as been selected as a Regional Winner. 


An Open Letter to the Director Who Changed My Life

My name is Marisa Gomez from CYT San Diego, and this is my CYT Story.

Marisa Gomez. CYT Kid and Distinguished Young Woman.

Marisa Gomez. CYT Kid and Distinguished Young Woman.

Dear Janie,

It has been just over five years since I stood in front of you for the first time as I auditioned for Alice. I had little confidence, had little experience performing, and had little dreams for myself. Yet, you saw some sort of potential in me and I was cast. You gave me the first opportunity that I had ever had to push myself, to work hard, to become comfortable, to explore my capabilities. I fell in love with CYT immediately, but still was not 100% comfortable, no matter how nice everyone had been to me. It took me quite some time to realize that it was me who was the problem. I was holding myself backhand I hindered my own opportunities for growth.

I remember my mom walking me in on my first day of classes, making sure that I had people to talk to and introducing me to people despite my dismay. I remember as she watched my first audition and drove me up to Escondido during tech week and spent hours sewing costumes. This was less than five months before she passed. My mom allowed me to do CYT and encouraged my dad to allow me to continue my involvement, even though it would be tough on his lifestyle as a single parent. She knew that this is where I would grow the most, she knew that this was what I needed during that time, and she knew that performing would be the place where I would feel most myself after I got over my own insecurities. So she gave of herself in order for me to do what I love. She passed the summer between Alice and Tall Tales.

CYT has been an integral part of my life, but I would not have learned as much in CYT if it had not been for you. You were my first and second director and you gave me a chance despite my horrible auditions and lack of dancing and acting abilities. All I needed was that chance. You gave me callbacks for roles that challenged to learn quickly. You taught me how to tap dance which led to more open doors during auditions and you made my first experience in CYT feel like home. Because of you, I was determined to get better.

CYT San Diego's, Marisa.

Marisa as Maria in CYT San Diego’s Sound of Music.

Then you gave me my favorite onstage experience of playing Maria (Sound of Music). That changed everything for me. I worked so hard leading up to auditions and all throughout rehearsal and the show and it finally felt like I had done something right. Yes, I do wish I could play it again and do it better one day, but 17 year oldie will have to suffice for now. I have so much love for that show for so many reasons. I was challenged and played an incredible, complex woman, who also happened to have the same name as my mom. I bonded with my onstage family and I still see all of my “kids” when I can.

I used songs from the Sound of Music for my talent for Distinguished Young Women and CYT lent me the costume that I used for both the state and national competitions. I had no problem competing on stage because I was used to being in shows. I could speak in front of a crowd and I did well in my interviews because I was finally comfortable with who I was.

I took a break from CYT during my DYW of CA year and while I missed it terribly, everyone still made me feel included and when I returned to Peter Pan, it was like no time had passed.

This brings me to my very last CYT show, Peter Pan. I went into auditions thinking I wanted Wendy because she got to fly, and also, no one was going to see me as any part other than Wendy or Mrs. Darling. Well, I wasn’t very good at being Wendy because I typically play older, not younger, and I quickly learned that it was not the part for me at callbacks. So then I was called back for Peter Pan, Mrs. Darling and Tiger Lily. Well, I honestly started laughing when I was called back for Peter because I didn’t think anyone would EVER see me as someone who could play a boy, because I typically play very girly roles. But somehow, I made it to the end of the Peter callbacks with Courtney and Nick and I left having no idea what role I was.

I was also called back for Tiger Lily which was honestly even more surprising because she is a dancer and I am not. I could have seen myself getting Hook before Tiger Lily. Yes, it was that foreign of an idea to me. I did the indian dance callback and then read for Tiger Lily and I was pretty sure they had me in the callback just because I’m tan or they needed more people to call back for it. I did my Mrs. Darling callback and I was afraid of being typecast as the mom again, but it’s a lovely role and I was still okay with being cast as that.

Marisa as Tiger Lily

Marisa as Tiger Lily

Then the cast list came up and I may or may not have had a mini panic attack. There was no way I could be Tiger Lily! I was going to stink. There was no way. This was a mistake. And then I got really excited because this was an opportunity to push myself. I refused to be bad and so I worked harder than I’ve ever worked for a role. I rearranged my sister’s room while she was away at college so that I could have a dance studio because she had closet doors that were big mirrors. I practiced every day for at least 2 hours and carefully thought through each movement. I had so much fun onstage every night I did it. I played a role that I never saw as an option for myself and I finally realized that I have the capacity to do anything. This is all because you gave me a shot 6 years ago. And then to top it all off, you said the kindest words about me before naming me the CYT San Diego 2015 MVP at the Director’s Choice Awards. I never thought that this award would go to me. It was such an honor to be awarded with this and I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

Thank you for constantly believing in me, challenging me, and supporting me. Than you for changing my life and for allowing me to become so much more than I used to be. I will always treasure my time with CYT and the friends and family that I’ve made through this organization. You are changing lives. So once again, thank you.


Marisa Gomez

Do you have a CYT Story you’d like to share? Submit it!