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Hennepin Theatre Trust announces 94 Minnesota high schools participating in the 2022-2023 Spotlight Education program

November 14, 2022

The Trust’s flagship educational initiative works with high schools across the state as a central part of Minnesota arts curriculum

MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 14, 2022) — Hennepin Theatre Trust has announced that 94 high schools throughout Minnesota will participate in the 23rd year of its Spotlight Education theater education program. Spotlight Education works with Minnesota high schools as a central part of the schools’ arts curriculum.

“We are proud to provide theater education to more than 8,000 students across the state every year with Spotlight Education, and we are grateful for the continued excitement and support of our schools, instructors and students,” said Mark Nerenhausen, Hennepin Theatre Trust president and CEO, Hennepin Theatre Trust. “We look forward to collaborating with Minnesota schools statewide to deliver another year of extraordinary programming.”

“We’re so excited to partner with this year’s Spotlight Education schools,” said Ari Koehnen Sweeney, director of creative art partnerships for the Trust. “This program connects communities and students across the state through the power of the performing arts. It honors the work being done throughout Minnesota and recognizes the energy students and educators bring to their communities. We can’t wait to see what this year has in store this year!”

Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Spotlight Education is the only program of its kind in the state and an essential tool of arts education in Minnesota high schools. The program helps build confidence, critical thinking skills, empathy, a sense of community and knowledge of theater. The program supplements and enhances high school theater programs through production assessments, workshops, theater review writing and Spotlight Showcase, an annual recognition of the high schools’ theater programs and students. Additionally, Spotlight Education partners with community organizations and elementary schools to create inclusive and sustainable arts experiences.

Spotlight Education provides incredible opportunities for my students, and what has happened from being involved in Spotlight Education has become so much more than I had ever hoped,” said Amy Monson, theater director at Mayo High School in Rochester. “Hennepin Theatre Trust’s public recognition helps us, as directors, to keep advocating for arts education. That dedication and growth can provide confidence, skills, empathy, understanding, curiosity, leadership, memories and rewards that last a lifetime… and in ways no one can predict.”

“I could rave about Spotlight for the rest of my life, there’s a reason it’s in my bio!” said Christine Heesun Hwang, Minnetonka Spotlight Education alumna and Éponine in the touring Broadway production of Les Misérables. “I don’t think I would be able to achieve the sort of success I’ve been getting now if I hadn’t been a part of a program like Spotlight.”

This year’s participating schools include:
Alexandria Area High School
Andover High School
Apple Valley High School
Bemidji High School
Benilde-St. Margaret’s School (St. Louis Park)
Blaine High School
Blake School (Minneapolis)
Breck School (Golden Valley)
Buffalo High School
Burnsville High School
Cambridge-Isanti High School
Chanhassen High School
Chaska High School
Chisago Lakes High School
Columbia Heights School
Como Park Senior High School (St. Paul)
Concordia Academy (Roseville)
Coon Rapids High School
Creative Arts Secondary School (St. Paul)
Cretin-Derham High School (St. Paul)
DeLaSalle High School (Minneapolis)
Detroit Lakes High School
Duluth East High School
Eagan High School
East Ridge High School (Woodbury)
Eden Prairie High School
Edina High School
FAIR School for Arts (Minneapolis)
Farmington High School
Forest Lake Area High School
Fridley High School
Glencoe-Silver Lake Public Schools
Great River School (St. Paul)
Hill-Murray School (Maplewood)
Hopkins High School
Hutchinson High School
Irondale High School (New Brighton)
Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton High School
Kennedy High School (Bloomington)
Lakes International Language Academy (Forest Lake)
Lakeville North High School
Lakeville South High School
Legacy Christian Academy (Andover)
Lionsgate Academy (Shoreview)
Little Falls Community High School
Mahtomedi High School
Maple Grove Senior High School
Math and Science Academy (Woodbury)
Mayo High School (Rochester)
Minneapolis Washburn
Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis)
Minnetonka High School
Moorhead High School
Mora High School
Mound Westonka High School
Mounds View High School
North Branch Area High School
North High School (North St. Paul)
Orono High School
Osseo Senior High
Owatonna High School
Park High School (Cottage Grove)
PiM Arts High School (Eden Prairie)
Prior Lake High School
Richfield Senior High School
Rogers High School
Rosemount High School
Roseville Area High School
Sartell High School
Sauk Rapids-Rice High School
Shakopee High School
South St. Paul Secondary School
Southwest Christian High School (Chaska)
Spring Lake Park High School
St. Anthony Village High School
St. Croix Preparatory Academy (Woodbury)
St. Francis High School
St. John’s Preparatory School (Collegeville)
St. Louis Park High School
St. Michael-Albertville High School
St. Paul Academy and Summit School
Stillwater Area High School
Tartan High School (Oakdale)
Thomas Edison High School (Minneapolis)
Thomas Jefferson High School (Bloomington)
Totino-Grace High School (Fridley)
Triton High School (Dodge Center)
Two Rivers High School (Mendota Heights)
VISTA Productions/Theatre Department of Visitation School and Saint Thomas Academy (Mendota Heights)
Waconia High School
Wayzata High School
White Bear Lake Area High School
Woodbury High School
Zimmerman High School

Through Spotlight Education, students receive professional training and guidance to enhance their artistic, technical and performing skills. The wide-ranging program has five key components:

Student Opportunities
Spotlight facilitates in-person and virtual workshops for students to learn new skills, build community and connect with leading industry professionals. Spotlight opportunities supplement and enhance theater curriculum and introduce students to the world of professional theater from both a local and national perspective. Students who attend a Spotlight high school can attend any session for free.

Unpacking the Show
Unpacking The Show is a Spotlight Education resource program that equips educators with tools to critically and responsibly approach the canon of musical theater. The program’s objective is to dig deeper into the dramaturgical content of the musicals produced at the high school level and to develop a set of best practices on discussing and staging these stories so that everyone in the room feels safe and heard. Spotlight Education hopes this programming will help directors and educators to navigate complicated but necessary conversations with students, parents, administration and audiences.

Critical Review
Critical Review is a rigorous writing program that aims to develop critical thinking skills through arts journalism. Students attend and review productions through Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Bank of America Broadway on Hennepin Season and participate in workshops led by experts in the fields of musical theater, writing and journalism. Student reviews are edited for content and style, discussed with program leaders and posted through an online portal. Internet access is a requirement to participate.

Production Assessments
Spotlight sends trained theater professionals and educators to watch and assess participating schools’ theater productions. The Production Assessment process is an educational tool intended to encourage, inspire and enhance Spotlight schools’ theater programs and strengthen the skills of student artists—onstage and offstage.

Spotlight Showcase Event
Spotlight Showcase is Minnesota high school theater’s biggest celebration. Over 1,600 students participate in the awards and recognition event, presented by Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Spotlight Education program. After a year of participating in the Spotlight-evaluated shows or applying for the select Triple Threat, Technical Theater, Publicist and Orchestra tracks, students from across Minnesota will take the stage at the historic State Theatre. Appearances are also made by educators, community members and alumni. This year’s Spotlight Showcase will be held on June 12 & 13, 2023.

In addition to the core elements of Spotlight Education, the program also engages students throughout Minnesota with two unique series:

Theater Partnership Series

The Spotlight theater partnership series gives students the opportunity to engage with local theater companies:

  • Theater Latté Da (Minneapolis)
  • Trademark Theater (St. Paul)
  • Mill City Summer Opera (Minneapolis)
  • Theatre L’Homme Dieu (Alexandria)

NEWS Series

The NEWS Series brings educational opportunities to students and programs in Greater Minnesota. Spotlight Education facilitates workshops for these students to learn new skills, build community and connect with leading industry professionals.

For more information about Spotlight Education, please visit

Spotlight Education is made possible with support from PNC Bank, Sun Country Airlines, United Properties and the Xcel Energy Foundation.

Follow Spotlight Education at:
Instagram: @spotlight_MN
Facebook: /SpotlightMN
Twitter: @spotlightMN

Hennepin Theatre Trust drives cultural and economic vitality in Minnesota through leadership of the dynamic Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis and educational programming that reaches every area of the state. Its historic theatres — Orpheum, State and Pantages — and event center at 900 Hennepin Avenue light up Hennepin Avenue with top-tier entertainment, including the best of Broadway and a wide variety of arts programming. Hennepin Theatre Trust is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Learn more at

Heart of Hennepin – celebrating 100 years of the Hennepin Theatre District
To honor the centennial, Hennepin Theatre Trust is kicking off a yearlong celebration for the Orpheum, State and Pantages theatres, along with The Hennepin event center and 824 Hennepin, home to the Brave New Workshop comedy theatre. This year-long centennial celebration honors the history of the Hennepin Theatre District and looks ahead to what the future holds for the arts, the Trust and downtown neighbors.

This activity is made possible by voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.