Virginia Shew, Karen Suszynski, and Ruth Weingart, the founders of TJ’s theatre program

The Founders’ Award commemorates the three founders of the  theatre program at Thomas Jefferson High School. Previously known as the Weingart Theatre Award and  given out each year since 1988, the award recognizes the three English teachers—Virginia Shew, Ruth Weingart, and Karen Suszynski—who established the theatre program in 1973.

For 21 years, they shared the vision that theatre is a collaborative art form that unites the skills, talents, and creativity of students in acting, music, dance, art, design, construction, history, lighting, sound, costumes, makeup, business, and publicity. Similarly, this award exemplifies the multifaceted nature of the program by celebrating an outstanding student who excelled in more than one aspect of theatre while at TJ. Further, this student must have contributed to TJ’s theatre program by demonstrating leadership, dedication, responsibility, and loyalty to TJ theatre—the characteristics upon which the program was built.

The award winner is recognized at the annual TJHS Theater Banquet each spring. A cash award of $500 will be presented to the recipient and their photo will be displayed at TJHS.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Student must be a senior in WJHSD graduating during the current school year.
  2. Student must be a member of the International Thespian Society, Troupe 2333, in good standing for at least two years.
  3. Student must have significant involvement in at least two different aspects of theatre.
  4. Student must have demonstrated leadership in the performing arts and provided a strong role model for other students.
  5. Student must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 verified by his/her guidance counselor. If extenuating circumstances warrant further consideration, please include an explanation.

To apply for this scholarship, click here.