Theatre Department Receives Texas Thespians Premiere Award

April 28, 2023 - The Comal Independent School District is one of only nine districts to earn the inaugural Texas Thespians Premiere Communities for Theatre Education Award. More than 1,026 school districts were eligible for the honor.

With this award, Texas Thespians recognizes and honors school districts that provide theatre programs with the resources above standard, as rooted in the Educational Theatre Association’s Opportunity to Learn Standards, Texas Theatre Knowledge and Skills for Fine Arts (TEKS), and support of International Thespian Society Troupe involvement.

“We are honored to be among the select few to receive this inaugural honor,” says Gary Cooper, Comal ISD’s director of fine arts. “Our theatre teachers are the foundation of our success and each of them brings their own professional skills and passion to their students and projects every day. They each deserve this honor.”

The 17 secondary theatre teachers include the following:

  • Canyon Middle School - Judith Adams and Mitchell Oden
  • Canyon High School - Erin Kinkade-Dyal and Carter Ridge
  • Canyon Lake High School - Ben Matthews
  • Church Hill Middle School - Gigi Gregersen 
  • Danville Middle School - Elijah Holland 
  • Davenport High School - Abraham Ramirez
  • Mountain Valley Middle School - Josh Boothe 
  • Pieper High School - Jill Ripa and Bryan Stanton
  • Pieper Ranch Middle School - Anthony Hanke and Sarah Schneider 
  • Smithson Valley High School - James Black and Casey O’Bryant 
  • Smithson Valley Middle School - Kelly Menz
  • Spring Branch Middle School - Emily Harrison

To qualify for the Texas Thespians Premiere Communities for Theatre Education Award Comal ISD answered detailed questions about curriculum, scheduling standards, class sizes, facilities, theatre safety, technical equipment, production elements, overall support for the theatre program and Thespian troupe involvement.

Research on theatre education continues to demonstrate numerous educational benefits across student populations, student age levels, and learning environments. Theatre education provides several social benefits including teamwork skills, how to give and receive constructive criticism, problem-solving, trust, cooperation, and collaboration. Additionally, theatre education helps students develop a strong sense of self, build empathy and understanding amongst peers, and helps broaden their knowledge of the world around them while preparing them for future careers.

Texas Thespians, an affiliate chapter of the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), is the largest chapter in the nation. The Texas Thespians chapter provides local, state, and regional support for adult members, Thespians, and Junior Thespians. With more than 600 troupes, Texas Thespians represent over 16,000 middle school and high school students. Texas Thespians, named an EdTA Gold Honor Chapter, offers educational festivals, workshops, and competitions for students, as well as conferences and professional development for teachers and administrators. As an affiliate of the International Thespian Society, Texas Thespians follows the national model for promoting excellence in theatre education and student achievement. For more information about Texas Thespians, please visit



-The Comal ISD Board of Trustees recognized the theatre department and secondary theatre teachers during its April board meeting.

-The Canyon Lake High School one-act play is state bound.

-This year, the Pieper High School theater program produced High School Musical, quite an undertaking for a new campus.


Read more Comal ISD news here.