Theater director Hall of Fame inductee
by Clarke Davis
Jefferson County North Thespian sponsor and theater director Jennifer Morgan-Beuchat has been inducted into the Kansas Thespian Hall of Fame.
The announcement came Jan. 10 during the Kansas Thespian State Conference in Wichita when she was inducted by Steve Landes, Kansas Thespian co-state director, and JCN Superintendent Denise Jennings.
Morgan-Beuchat listened as Landes and Jennings read letters sent by students and administration commending and praising her for her contagious passion for theater, commitment to further theater in her school and community, and her active leadership at the state level.
The honoree thanked her students and administration for their commitment to excellence.
Morgan-Beuchat, who has taught at JCN 18 years and directed theater for 15, said she was humbled and honored and thought such an award was still many years away.
“While I prefer the spotlight to be on my students, I was proud to honor our small school before that crowd of 2,000 people,” she said. “It set an example for our students that it didn’t matter if one comes from a small school, great things can be achieved.”
Jennifer is the founding director of the JCN Thespian Chapter that has 40 members, almost a third of the student body. Their chapter is usually in competition with mostly large 5A and 6A schools from the Kansas City area and Wichita, but always excels.
“I’m very fortunate to get paid to do what I love and work with these amazing kids,” she said.
Acting and theater have nearly always been a part of Jennifer’s life. Her father was a pastor who moved a lot as she was growing up, so she was always the new kid in school.
“Theater groups are always accepting of new people, so I seldom felt like a stranger joining in with these groups,” she said.
She majored in theater in college and soon toured through the southern states with a professional troupe.
“I landed the role of Maria in the ‘Sound of Music’ soon after college,” she said.
When her first child reached kindergarten age she left the acting profession for something more stable.
“It was time to raise a family and people have to make choices,” she said.
Morgan-Beuchat was taught a few things along the way that she tries to impart to her students, those life lessons that lead to success in whatever one endeavors to undertake.
“I always worked hard and was the first one to show up at the audition,” she said. “I tried to be kind to those around me and supportive of others with the same aspirations.”
“I tell my students that we are not just producing a skit, but rather we have the opportunity to create an amazing moment,” she added.
And self-reliance is also taught in theater. “I want them to know how to sew on a button and put on their own makeup,” she said. “There will be times when there’s no one else to do these things.”
Jennifer is only the 13th teacher inducted into the Kansas Thespian Hall of Fame, and the first JCN faculty member to achieve this distinction. She currently serves on Kansas Thespian’s state board, is a Kansas Thespian Adjudicator Coordinator, serves on the Kansas Theater Curriculum Writing Committee, and serves as a consultant and costumer for various venues in Kansas.
Jennifer lives at Valley Falls with her husband, Shawn Beuchat, who is the theater director at Jefferson West High School. The thespian chapters hold joint meetings and participate in a joint summer theater camp. The JCN troupe makes an annual trip to the Omaha Film Festival.
Jennifer has four adult children, Elizabeth, Matthew, Ryan, and Britany.
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