Save the date for CYT EXPO 2015!

CYT Santa Cruz student Tisha Hulter made this video about her experience at CYT EXPO 2014. We’re going to go ahead and use this as a Save the Date reminder for the next EXPO: June 22-24, 2015. Mark your calendars!

This video can also be found on YouTube HERE.

Paul Russell: Practical uses for CYT’s Values & Objectives

CYT co-founder Dr. Paul Russell wrote the below blog post, and it sort of makes me want to go back to college…well, maybe just one semester so I could take his Musical Theater class. Enjoy (and see you on the first day)!

As I am teaching four new Musical Theater students in the Micah program at San Diego Christian College, I once again get to review with the kids the uniqueness of CYT. It all starts with our Mission Statement and Values and Objectives.

The four new college students have found them helpful as they are all assisting in the direction of CYT shows this Fall. Here’s a great review of how the ideals can be used in practical, everyday interaction with our CYT students.

CYT’s Values and Objectives

Placing the maximum worth on people and treating each individual with respect and significance.

It is important that people are always placed at a higher value than product or production. Therefore we will work tirelessly to insure that people are our first priority. We require all staff, directors, teachers, volunteers and students to show respect to each other and do all we can to build up and encourage each other realizing that each person is a special creation of God, each having unique skills, talents and gifts.

Developing character values in individuals including commitment, discipline, self-esteem, confidence and integrity.

Developing character traits in individuals can all be learned in the environment of the theater. Some of the most important character traits that we hope to instill in participants are the following:

Commitment: The character quality that says, “My word means something. If I said I will do something, you can count on me.” In making a commitment to a theatrical production, you learn to follow through, not give up, finish a job, and do it well. It is important for students to learn the importance of both promptness and regular attendance. If they say they will be there (via their audition form), they need to follow through with their commitment. Consistent class attendance is also to be expected.

Discipline: The important character trait of discipline is taught through a multitude of skills that are used in theater arts training. Such discipline of memorizing lines, learning dance steps, consistent blocking on stage, and faithfulness to a production are all great means of building discipline.

Self-esteem (belief in oneself–self-respect) and confidence (belief in one’s own abilities): Artistic teams have the opportunity to help students discover how God has uniquely gifted them, and thus build their confidence and self-esteem in the process. It is not about “how wonderful I am”, it is about “how wonderful God is.” In the teaching process, it is important to encourage and lift students up even during instruction.

Integrity (the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity): CYT desires students to be the cream of the crop at school, church, and in the community. Integrity is when no one has anything to hold against you. This is perhaps the most difficult trait to attain. It involves being beyond reproof, as the Bible describes it. The best way to develop integrity in students is to be a leader with integrity. The old saying: “Monkey see, monkey do” is appropriate, especially with children. Students will model what they see. Be an Artistic Team of integrity and your students will follow you!

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Meet CYT Baton Rouge student Jackson Pierce

I’ve been on an interviewing kick lately. There are just so many rad people that are a part of the CYT family! And CYT Baton Rouge student Jackson Pierce is no exception. Do yourself a favor and read my recent Q&A with the guy whose name we’ll definitely hear again.

This is Jackson. And I think I speak for everyone in the world when I say that his shirt wins.

This is Jackson. And I think I speak for everyone in the world when I say that his shirt wins.

Hi Jackson! Tell me first, how did you first get involved with CYT?
My family has homeschooled me since I was in the fourth grade and we are currently involved in a very large homeschool community. A year or so ago, we heard of a theater group starting up and we decided to get involved with the program. My dad is on the Board for CYT and my mom is an Area Coordinator, and we’ve been involved all three sessions that CYT Baton Rouge has had.

CYT is indeed a family affair. Do you have siblings? Are they involved?
I have a nine-year-old sister who is in CYT (she does pretty much anything I do) so we spend A LOT of time together. My mom is a costumer with the rest of the “Costume Diva’s” as they are so appropriately named. And my dad helps build sets and manages to find some crazy way to injure some part of his body at least twice a show.

Ha! Sounds like my dad. I heard you recently went to the CYT EXPO. How’d you like it? 
My experience at Expo was amazing! I met so many cool people and I was able to hang out with my CYT family from Lafayette. It was a great weekend in Houston.

What has been the best part about CYT for you? 
The best part about CYT for me is the experience I’m gaining by performing and just doing what I plan to do for the rest of my life.

I’m a fan of word association. I’ll say a word or phrase, and you say the first word or phrase that comes to mind. Cool? 

Auditions: Scary
Favorite show: Shrek the Musical
Tech week: Mic interference
Broadway: Maybe
Choreography: Improving (slowly)
Favorite movie musical: The Muppet Movie (the old one!)
If I’m not at CYT after school, you’ll find me…Doing CYT stuff at home

Thanks Jackson! 

Great people do things before they’re ready


Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls is a hub for young women to learn and be part of a community, and in her YouTube series Ask Amy, Poehler gives advice and answers questions from fans. The above illustration is based on quotes taken from an Ask Amy video about courage.

One-on-one with CYT Inc’s Dr. Summer Moshy

CYT is chock full of the most incredible people. From affiliate leadership to volunteers to students to staff, there are phenomenal people everywhere you turn. Recently, CYT Inc’s Curriculum Coordinator, Dr. Summer Moshy, humored me while I peppered her with questions about what she does for CYT and why she thinks the organization is the most special one around.

Summer (right) with CYT Inc's Director of Operations, Heather LaForge

Summer (right) with CYT Inc’s Director of Operations, Dr. Heather LaForge

First things first. You are CYT’s Curriculum Coordinator. Break down for us what that means.
Basically, I organize and maintain all of the available CYT Inc. curriculum materials that we’ve got and make them accessible (via the Curriculum link on the CYT NEXUS) to all of our CYT affiliates for use in planning the class schedule for their respective areas. I try to keep the resources current with accurate listings/descriptions of what materials we have available, so that the Area Coordinators, Managing Directors, and/or Artistic Directors can request what they need for their area teachers. I also facilitate the requests from the ACs, MDs, or ADs for the materials and answer any questions they might have about our current materials.

There are oodles of classes and even more affiliates. Your job sounds busy!
It took me a a while to recover and organize all of the curriculum stuff CYT Inc. has amassed over the past 30 years, but now that that’s done (though we do still unearth buried treasures from time to time!), I’m starting to work on creating new curriculum materials for our affiliates. I also try to solicit materials from our affiliates to enhance the variety and quality of curriculum goodies we have for them. I am also about to send out my first Curriculum Newsletter highlighting what’s new and what’s coming up for CYT Curriculum.

Summer wiith CYT student Emily Smedley at EXPO 2014

Summer wiith CYT student Emily Smedley at EXPO 2014

I’m told you’ve worked with a variety of other theatre programs. What is the main difference you notice about CYT?
The willingness of everyone involved to “give it to God” at the end of the day. To me, it’s comforting to feel that the common denominator among CYT peeps is devotion to a power greater than ourselves.

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If only CYT could do Frozen…

I came across this video from a Princess Party and it’s a perfect reminder why CYT loves:

1. Kids
2. Musicals
3. Disney
4. Kids

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 11.28.59 AM

And I think I speak on behalf of every CYT student & parent when I say I cannot wait until Disney releases the rights to Frozen.

(Video credit: Danny Nelson)

CYT Santa Cruz proves it’s a family affair

Perhaps one of the best things about CYT is that it can involve the entire family. That is the case with the Hash family, and I recently got to speak with parents Phil & Cheryl about their involvement with CYT Santa Cruz and the positive impact it’s had on the lives of their daughters (Hi Caryn & Monika!) and on their family as a whole. Truly a remarkable family. Enjoy!

How did you and your family first get involved with CYT?
Cheryl: For about a year my friend Mary Jo Epperson kept telling me about a Christian-based theater group she was helping to get started in Santa Cruz. The day before the first CYT class/session, my daughter was begging to take dance classes (which didn’t appeal to me because of a previous negative experience with another dance studio). I remember saying to her, “Let’s go check out this theater group Mary Jo keeps telling us about. You prefer acting over dancing anyway. First classes are tomorrow. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to continue.” Well, as you can guess, we haven’t looked back.

Caryn as a Who Citizen and Monika as Thing 2 from Seussical

Caryn as a Who Citizen and Monika as Thing 2 from Seussical

Was this your first foray into theater?
Phil: No. We had been involved with another theater group when the kids were younger.  It was less than satisfying for many reasons.

Cheryl: As Phil mentioned, when our girls were younger, they danced and acted with another studio. Wasn’t entirely bad, but was not the greatest.

I’m told you both wear many hats in regards to helping out with CYT Santa Cruz productions. What have your various jobs been?
Phil: I’m head of the Set Committee (I organize and help build the sets; we have a set designer), I’ve ushered some of the shows, and ran a “follow spot” for a show.

Cheryl: Costume Designer and Costume Committee Chair. I also make cookies, brownies, etc. for refreshments, and manage our costume storage area.

Phil working on the set during Tech Week of Jungle Book

Phil working on the set during Tech Week of Jungle Book

What’s the most gratifying part of being involved together as a family?
Phil: When a show comes together we all take great pride in its success, even though we contributed in different ways. We can appreciate each other’s contributions, the kid’s performances, Cheryl’s costumes, and my sets.

Cheryl: The friendships we have gained as a family. Families that have the same values, interests (theater!), experiences, life stories. Yet we are all unique and bring many gifts to CYT. It’s been wonderful to see our girls grow in theater and to be a part of that growth. And as adults, I think both Phil and I have grown as well and have learned a lot about theater. It’s fun to be creative together! It has also been good for our girls to see that Phil and I are still learning and growing; it’s a life long journey.

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