HYPE students are taking action this fall!

There are a million reasons to love HYPE. They’re CYT teens from around the country who are dedicated to pursuing excellence by taking on leadership roles and getting involved in the community around them. And now, their HYPE passion is about to explode all over the country this fall! Which give us all the more reason to love them to bits.

HYPE students from CYT Spokane

HYPE students from CYT Spokane

Following the 2014 CYT EXPO, the HYPE students have been proactive by following up with the ideas that they discussed in July. Students have been creating collaborative groups on Facebook for their different jobs, and have been sharing ideas with one another about what they are doing in their HYPE groups. They have been sharing pictures of their retreats and fall kick-offs, and have shown an overall enthusiasm for leading and growing in their specific areas.

CYT Santa Cruz

CYT Santa Cruz

A huge shout-out to Sean Grossnickle’s awesome idea of casts writing letters to one another – either to a cast in another area who’s doing the same show or a cast performing the same weekend. Although he encouraged HYPE groups to spearhead the letter writing, it’s open for any and every CYT area that wants to participate. 

CYT Houston

CYT Houston

It’s so cool that the students are being innovative and sparking movements among the CYT groups. This is exactly the vision that was set for them at the Expo, and it’s so encouraging to see it take form!

Find out more about HYPE and how you can get involved HERE

HYPE students reflect on the CYT EXPO


HYPE students were super excited to attend the EXPO this year. And they were not disappointed.

About 48 members of High School Youth Pursuing Excellence gathered together in Houston at this year’s CYT EXPO to reunite with each other, meet new members, attend HYPE-focused workshops, and join other CYT students in the gazillion other activities that the EXPO had to offer. Here are some highlights from their weekend:

A team building activity they did called "Laser-Beam Boogie"

A team building activity they did called “Laser-Beam Boogie”

The HYPE students who attended came from Denver, Fredericksburg, Houston, Kansas City, Phoenix, San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Spokane – a total of 8 cities represented! Fredericksburg just started HYPE last month and they sent 14 students!

After Dark dance party!

After Dark dance party!

Students attended workshops with themes of “Who Do You Identify With?”, “Who Are You Reflecting?”, “The HYPE Model” and “Creative Conflict Management.” They also were involved in presenting at a “HYPE for All” workshop for all students interested in joining HYPE.

An activity called "The Mirror Activity" from the HYPE workshop "Who Are You Reflecting?"

An activity called “The Mirror Activity” from the HYPE workshop “Who Are You Reflecting?”

A lot of adult leaders also attended the “HYPE for All” workshop, meaning that the interest for starting HYPE in many more cities is high! We are so excited to see how HYPE will continue to grow this year.

One of the "After Dark" rehearsals with Jon Lorenz

One of the “After Dark” rehearsals with Jon Lorenz

A couple thoughts from some of the students:

My favorite part is a bit clichéd, but still, it was getting to meet all the people from other areas. It’s just so cool that you get to see what other areas are up to and see the similarities and differences between that area and your own. Also needless to say all the people you meet are really cool and amazing!” – Christian Spangler, HYPE San Diego

“I thought it was awesome when we learned about the HYPE roles, and I found out that my role last year is actually super awesome, and that I want to have that role again this year!” – Chrissy Nefe, HYPE Denver

“The Expo for me was a very enlightening and awesome experience. It felt like the CYT I had always known and it was comforting to know that the family extends to all parts of the country. It really put the shear scope of the impact CYT has into perspective. I know now that wherever there is a CYT, I have a home. I feel like the experience is a must for any upcoming HYPE President to make connections and get ideas about how to improve their area of HYPE. There was also the awesome showcase and the chance to make great friends. Nothing else like it.” – Sean Grossnickle, HYPE Kansas City

Thank you to all the HYPE students who attended the EXPO this year! Learn more about how you can get involved with the HYPE in your CYT area HERE.

A recap of the 2014 CYT EXPO

It has been a couple weeks since the 2014 CYT EXPO. And it has taken us that long to come down from the high and wrap our brains around what a fantastic weekend it was. We are going to go out on a limb and say that this year’s EXPO was the best yet! With over 300 in attendance, students and leaders reconnected with their fellow CYT friends from across the nation and experienced what it truly means to be a part of one big CYT family.

CYT Expo

This year’s theme, “Through the Looking Glass”, really hit home when it was revealed that whether it’s through joy or tragedy, triumphs or defeat, happiness or sadness…when you look in the mirror, you can see everyone from your CYT family standing by you in the reflection. We are all in this together and there is no place we’d rather be than CYT!

My CYT Story Winners

My CYT Story Winners

There were so many incredible highlights from the weekend – guest artist Jon Lorenz, the closing night showcase with exceptional solos, harmonies, featured dancers, and the worlds greatest teenagers (can I get an “eye-five”), worship in the morning, HYPE breakouts, Improv rounds, workshops throughout the day, special evening events, late night rehearsals, and dance parties. It didn’t matter if you were in HYPE, Improv, or neither, we all came together for a common goal and it was such a huge success.

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Speaking of Improv…the Improvathon was AMAZING. Congrats to the Improvathon team “Stay Glassy San Diego” from CYT San Diego for taking home the trophy! 

Improv Finals!

Improv Finals!

Perhaps one of the most special times of all was when all the CYT leaders from around the country gathered together. One point that was made in the meeting by the CYT Spokane Artistic Director is that “we are all called”… it doesn’t matter who we are, or what job we perform, we are all called to be a part of this organization.  

The incomparable CYT leaders

The incomparable CYT leaders

Thank you to everyone that was a part of the jam-packed, fast-paced, memorable weekend…it was one none of us will soon forget.

P.S. Stay tuned for the our EXPO Through Instagram blog post. Hilarious.

Get ready for hilarity at the Improvation


Real talk: the CYT Improvathon is legendary.

If you’re lucky enough to be going to the CYT Expo in July, you’re going to get to witness it (or be in it — lucky!)

Bobby Marchessault, CYT’s Improvathon Director, is the brain behind this epic entertainment. He filled me in on all things improv and what people can expect this year at the Expo.

Break it down for me Bobby. Explain the Improvathon.

Break it down…in some ways that’s like asking me to untangle a giant hairball. Let’s just say it’s two days of absolute hilarity and fun as teams from all over the county come together to celebrate and share their love for all things funny and improv. All of these actors get together regularly around the country and create stories and entertain, and for this brief event they get to learn from each other, get to know each other, and root each other on in what really is a very difficult art form.

What do attendees and participants have to look forward to at the Expo?

This year, attendees have the opportunity to see 18 teams present their own pre-scheduled improv show. Two shows will happen simultaneously, all day long, every half hour. That’s day one. Then, on Friday, we switch up the format with what we call TheaterSports. All day in the ballroom, teams will perform together in a farcical sort of head-to-head comedy sporting event. One of our judges will “ref” these shows and the audience will help us to award “points” to teams. It’s gonna be a blast and Expo attendees are gonna wanna see as much of it as they can.

The Finals are on Friday night of the Expo. How many teams, and how do you win?
In those first two days of performances, we have judges who will be watching and “scoring” games. The top three teams will put on an awe-inspiring, life-changing, earth-shattering display of improv genius for all the attendees of Expo 2014. Our judges will have the unenviable position of deciding which of those three teams did the best storytelling and entertained us all the most. There are some ideas in the works to include the audience on a percentage of that decision making, but you might just have to show up to see how that comes into play.

What other fun stuff will the Improv students be doing over the long weekend?
As if that isn’t more fun than one can safely handle in two days already? One of the beauties of the Expo this year is that Improv students will also be invited to jump into all the events that the other students are taking part in as well. And on Thursday, we’ll have a giant workshop where both improv students and HYPE students will get to hone some improv skills and play games with actors from other cities and teams. I’m anticipating a pretty amazing couple of days and can’t wait to get to Houston to meet all the actors and see them do their thing.

Thank you so much for all the insight, Bobby!

Dear reader – read up on anything more you’d ever want to know about the Improvathon HERE.


This is Bobby.

Bobby Marchessault grew up in Chula Vista, CA and had his first theater experience at CYT South Bay in the chorus of Oliver. He was hooked and performed in several more CYT productions before becoming a member of the Young Americans where he taught  singing, dancing, and improv in over 100 schools across the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia. Bobby especially loves teaching and investing in youth, using theater and the arts as a way to teach and learn about life. His favorite thing about improv? Not only do actors learn to think fast and respond to our surroundings, it helps us all forget about our inhibitions and hangups and not take ourselves or life so stinking seriously!

CYT Expo: It’s all in the family

The CYT Expo is less than three weeks away! As we continue the countdown, CYT co-founder Sheryl Russell shares her thoughts on what the Expo means to her and why she’s so excited to see you in Houston.

Sheryl (center) with CYT leadership at the 2011 Expo.

Sheryl (center) with CYT leadership at the 2011 Expo.

The CYT “awkwardly closer than family” gathers once a year at EXPO to celebrate our accomplishments, to learn new best practices, to encourage each other, and to just have fun. We also have our national Improvathon competition, HYPE training, and this year we’ve added student activities.

Technology had helped us in so many ways… Email, texting, FB, Instagram, Dropbox, iPhone & on & on. But there’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation. EXPO allows us to look each other in the eyes & listen with our hearts.

I think one of the greatest benefits to attending EXPO is mentioned in Philippians 2:1-2 Living Translation:

Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up? Do you love me enough to want to help me? Does it mean anything to you that we are brothers in the Lord, sharing the same Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic at all? Then make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose.

We definitely cheer each other up…it’s amazing to watch the Affiliates sharing ideas with each other and going the extra mile to make sure that not only is their program successful but all Affiliates are successful. It is about helping each other… learning from our wins and our failures. We share the same Spirit… we love God and we love people… we celebrate Christ’s gift of life to us. As a nation we have rallied with tender hearts to support those who have lost loved ones.

As a parent, one of my greatest joys is having my children and grandchildren together at in the same place at the same time. I believe EXPO brings the CYT family together in one place at one time. EXPO is a time to get our “emotional tanks” full as well as the opportunity to reenforce the “CYT Model”. We are a unique entity and it’s very reaffirming that we have our own “normal” when we are all together.

I had a CYT Mom share with me recently that she thought her daughter might be a little different and then she joined CYT. She saw kids who were exactly like her daughter and was over joyed and realize they had found their “like-minded” community.

Excited to see everyone and give and get the CYT hugs!!!

Get details about registration HERE.

What’s in store for HYPE students at the 2014 CYT Expo

Before continuing with our exciting updates about this year’s Expo, here are two quick things you need to know about this blog post:

1. It was written by Lydia Kinne, CYT Inc’s National HYPE Director (more about her below).

2. A reminder of what HYPE is: High School Youth Pursuing Excellence – a program through which teens of CYT can develop their leadership skills. 



This year’s CYT Expo is about unity on so many levels. We are coming together in Houston to remember that we are all part of one CYT, whether we are there for Improv, HYPE, student activities, or adult leadership workshops.

As such, this spirit of unity is also a main feature of the HYPE workshops. Yes, every HYPE across the country is unique and special in its own way. But at the very core, all HYPE groups should be unified by following the same model and reaching for the same goals.

The Expo workshops (from “Down the Rabbit Hole” to “The Looking Glass Girl” to “The Wonderland of HYPE” – and more!) are focused on that unity in a two-fold way. One, by training every group to be on the same page about HYPE and how it should be run; and two, by actually having all HYPE students in attendance work together toward a common goal.

If you’re not even sure what HYPE is and what it takes to start/run one, no fear! We will also have a special “Taste of HYPE” workshop (prepared by HYPE students themselves at the Expo) for all who might be interested in joining or starting a HYPE someday.

I’ll see you at the Expo in July – where we’ll laugh, maybe cry, hug it out, dance it out, make new friends, take tons of pictures, get barely any sleep, and fall in love even more with CYT.

P.S. Just in case you haven’t registered yet – you can do so HERE.

Lydia Kinne

This is Lydia!

A bit about Lydia Kinne: She has been involved with CYT Spokane for ten years on many levels, but for the past four, she has served as HYPE Adviser. She is pursuing a degree in elementary education and theater at Eastern Washington University, which she will finish this year (Lord willing). She is seriously passionate about student leadership, and loves helping to grow the impact of CYT and HYPE throughout the nation. She co-planned and led the National HYPE Conference for the past two years and can’t wait to continue to see what God has in store for this group of young leaders!

CYT Expo 2014 – aka The Ultimate Student Experience

Okay, fine. We’ve been talking a lot about the upcoming CYT Expo lately. Perhaps we assume that you know what we’re talking about and perhaps that’s why we haven’t thought to properly break down why you should be as excited as we are. Until now.

EXPO 2014

This year’s Expo theme: The Looking Glass – Who Are You Reflecting?

The bottom line is that the Expo is one big celebration of our CYT family. It exists to bring unity to CYT Affiliates across the country through workshops, gathering, sharing, and more (read: singing, dancing & performing – we are CYT after all). This includes CYT students as well as Affiliate leadership.

As if that paragraph did not not get you excited enough, did you know this year’s Expo is officially unlike any that has ever been before?  Here’s why.

Historically, the CYT Expo has been host to one of CYT’s most hilarious, annual events – The Improvathon! Not too long ago, CYT high school students who belonged to their local HYPE groups were invited to come to Expo as well. But now, this year we are happy to include all CYT students ages 12-19 to come be a part of the complete Expo student experience.

The student schedule is specially designed so that specific activities (Improv, for example) will be just one of the many shenanigans planned for the weekend-long program (not to mention the schedule allows for everyone to be available to watch the Improvathon Finals on Friday night! All of the other students and leaders can be there to cheer them on!)

There will be amazing HYPE sessions and back-to-back activities for those who are “students only” (that just means they aren’t in Improv or HYPE). As an entire group, we will be holding a very special “Audition Workshop” where students will have the chance to audition and get feedback from Special Guest Artist Jon Lorenz, and CYT co-founder Paul Russell.

Another fun thing (new this year) is CYT After Dark, where all students will gather to rehearse a showcase to be performed at the end of the weekend. What better way to come together as ONE CYT than to Act, Sing, Dance, and Live as one big happy group!

These are just a few of the highlights from this year’s plan of events at the CYT Expo. It’s not too late to register, so what are you waiting for? These are going to be three days in July that you do not want to miss.

Oh, one more thing. We’ll be blogging more Expo-isms in the upcoming weeks and highlighting certain peeps who are overseeing various aspects of the weekend. The person responsible for the incredible student experience that we have described above is CYT Inc’s very own Creative Director Renee Kauffman.

face 1

Hi Renee!

A little about her: She began her CYT journey by attending Summer Camp in 1995, where she met the world’s greatest friends and became a “lifer”. She has gone from CYT student to teacher, camp counselor, Choreographer, Director, and now full-time staff member. She has graced the stage with some fantastic roles but her all-time favorite role is being wife to Curtis Kauffman, the really cute Production Shop Manager at CYT San Diego, and mother to 8-month-old, Sailor Alice.