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South Tama's Julie Matta to represent Iowa at Washington D. C. Arts Summit

Has Award-Winning Essay

February 27, 2019
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

"Theatre creates a world where a nobody can be anybody. The stories of my ancestors have shaped me into being the person that I am today. In this way, each of us are the same" - Julie Matta, South Tama High School junior, begins the closing of her award winning Thespian Democracy Works essay with this message.

As 2nd place winner in Iowa she received $1,000. The national runner-up essay award added an additional $100 of which she is the first from Iowa to receive national recognition. She is a member of the South Tama Thespian Troupe #1038.

Not only did Julie receive state and national awards for the essay, she will be on her way to Washington D.C. this Saturday to represent Iowa at the National Arts Action Summit. The summit is described as "a multi-day event bringing together arts advocates from across the country. Attendees will learn the latest research and legislative arts priorities from the experts in a full day training."

Article Photos

Julie Matta

Chronicle/John Speer

"I always try to advocate for the arts in some way," Julie, who lives in Toledo, says and is in the position to do so as she currently serves as the advocate chair as an Iowa State Thespian officer.

On March 5 it's "Advocates Day" and Julie will bet her chance as she joins with other advocates for a visit to Congress. Julie says its is planned for her to have opportunity to meet with members of the Iowa Congressional delegation.

"South Tama has long been known for its reputation in the Fine Arts, and we are so fortunate to have a student like Julie Matta who wishes to represent not only our school community, but also the State of Iowa, in advocating for Fine Arts programs in the schools," Dixie Forcht says. Forcht, South Tama schools librarian serves as Thespian Troupe sponsor, large group speech coach and spring play director.

Fact Box

Thespian Democracyworks Essay

By Julie Matta

When the word "theatre" is put into the search bar for Google, about 1,110,000,000 results are offered, including everything from "movies near you" to the various definitions of the word. Out of all of those results one of them stuck out to me-the one offered by Merriam Webster that reads, "entertainment in the form of a dramatic or diverting situation or series of events." The reason this definition really grabs me is because that is what theatre is, the story of humanity. All stories begin and end, whether that be in the classic forms of comedy or tragedy, or in messy, unscripted reality plays. But, real life is not so black and white, and people have complicated relationships with emotions. This is the reason why theatre has been crucial to my story. Theatre has given me a sense of purpose.

The gift of telling a story so that someone could, for even just a moment, forget their past or their worries about the future, and just be present, is the best thing life has to offer. When I was younger, to call me dramatic would be an understatement. Then, accidentally, I discovered in a sweaty, sixth-grade choir room that I could be officially part of a performance. I was asked by my teacher to be a part of a variety show. I told jokes and in that moment it felt natural, like blinking or breathing. My brain was working in ways it never had before, the euphoria of the moment was indescribable. The next year I was emceeing the event at my middle school, and soon after, I was part of a summer program that offered a community-based theatre opportunity. These experiences accumulated into a ball of energy that pushed forward my momentum when I entered high school. It was a whole new world, and for one of the first times in my life, I felt like I was good at something and that I belonged somewhere. Theatre Arts gave me a purpose.

Something clicked! This energy and passion was finally being channeled into something more than class clown. I was raised in an open minded, Hispanic family, and while I am so incredibly proud and thankful for my family, in our small town community, recognition seems determined by family status and last name. I was nobody. My parents came to this country to give their children a better life, liberty, and future. If it had not been for their boldness, I would not be telling this story, or any story. Coming from a household that differs from my community means I have two faces. One where I am professional, elegant, impeccable, and strong; nothing can touch me when I am this version of myself. The other is a soul wrapped in passion--sensitive, realistic, and curious. This dual persona I wear is what draws me to theatre. I've been humbled and honored to be the Vice President of my Thespian troupe. This has lead me to learn how to not only harness my skills, in regards to leadership and communication. But, it has also taken me to a state level as I am now a State Thespian Officer in the state of Iowa.

Theatre creates a world where a nobody can be anybody. The stories of my ancestors have shaped me into being the person that I am today. In this way, each of us are the same. The experiences we have and the lessons we learn reflect the hardships we encounter, and the beauty of rising up to meet those challenges allow us to develop our pride, our joy, our sorrows, and our appreciation of our lives. And the theatre provides the stage where those stories and shared experiences become entertainment that plays into new experiences, new lessons, and new opportunities to appreciate one another.

While my search for theatre yielded over a billion results, my experiences in the theatre have resulted in so much more. I found a home away from home, a place in my community, and a way to continue discovering the human condition. My story is only beginning. I cannot wait to share it with the world!

Julie's participation in music, art, and theatre, combined with her academic success, make her an ideal representative of the Fine Arts.

At South Tama, Julie is a participant in plays, large and individual speech, musicals and has helped out backstage, as well.

She said her plans after high school are to study business communications and, of course, fine arts.



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