JEFFERSON HILLS, Pa.; May 9, 2024 – The West Jefferson Hills community is invited to a celebration of 50 years of the founding of Thomas Jefferson High School's ITS trope on Thursday, May 16. Thomas Jefferson's Troupe 2333 of the International Thespian Society launched in 1974.

The celebration is set for 7 p.m. in TJ Theater. Members of Thomas Jefferson's ITS trope will sing, dance and act during a short show. The event is free and open to the public.

The celebration will include an amazing historical slide show on 65 years of TJ musical theater that has been compiled and created by TJ graduate Floyd Schuchert. He was a member of the Drama Club for all four years at TJ, serving as president as a senior in 1975-76. He began digitizing the content in 2008.

The slideshow covers nearly 200 Thomas Jefferson musicals and fall plays that date to the spring of 1959 and the production of "Our Town," the year before the opening of the old Thomas Jefferson High School. The stage was operational before the high school opened the next fall. Schuchert said TJ's first all-school musical was "Annie Get Your Gun" in the spring of 1986.

The database Schuchert has compiled includes more than 16,000 pages of material. The slideshow includes a wide variety of source materials, much of which has originated with several decades of scrapbooks compiled by TJ Drama Club Secretaries. The materials include photographs, programs, posters, advertisements, memorabilia, Monticello yearbooks and The Statesman newspapers. "This is a passion for me," Schuchert said. "I got a great education at TJ," mentioning one of his teachers, Bob Morgan.

Schuchert said more than 4,000 TJ students have been part of the drama and musical theater productions and are credited in the slideshow, including nearly 1,000 TJ ITS members. There are a combined total of 16,500-plus student credits in all the productions.

Schuchert has enlisted the assistance of former students, teachers and others during his compilation of 65 years of material. Among those who've provided significant help and direction are some of the founding and current members of TJ Arts, including founder Karen Suszynski, Carolyn Bourgeois, Dawn Walters, Julie Tipton, Michele Stoicovy and Schuchert's sister, Kathy Goettler.

At the May 16 event, Schuchert said there are plans to launch a TJ Theatre Memories Facebook group, which will provide public access to the slideshow.

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