All the world's a stage: BCLUW, Stevens honored for outstanding performances by IHSMTA

From left to right, Treye Teske, Madison Engle, Des Moines Performing Arts CEO Jeff Chelesvig, BCLUW drama director Jackie Stevens and Ben Paper. BCLUW brought home a total of five IHSMTA recognitions at a June 4 ceremony, including the Impact Award for Stevens and Distinguished Scene from last year’s production of “State Fair.” (Photo courtesy of Jackie Stevens) 

As Jackie Stevens sits down in front of the stage where she’s practically lived for the last four years, she freely admits that she isn’t one for bold, philosophical proclamations. She’s simply a lifelong fan of the theater, and these days, she’s translating her passion into an opportunity to lead the BCLUW drama department to new heights.


“I always want to do a good show, but the bottom line is ‘Are the kids better people? Do they have more empathy? Have they broadened their thought processes? That’s always what it comes down to for me,” Stevens said. “I think we lose our creativity and our empathy for the rest of society if we don’t have the arts.”


On Monday, June 4, the Comets brought home a total of five Iowa High School Musical Theater Association awards during a ceremony at the Des Moines Performing Arts Center— an Impact Award for Stevens, distinguished scene for “More Than Just a Friend” from “State Fair,” special recognition to Ben Paper for his performance as Wayne Frake, special recognition for dedication to accessible arts opportunities and special recognition for lobby display.


From the second Stevens selected “State Fair,” she had a feeling that the classic Iowa-based Broadway musical would be a hit just over an hour from its actual setting. Besides “The Music Man,” it’s probably the most popular musical about the Hawkeye State ever performed, and the accolades have rolled in since the production wrapped up in November.


Four Iowa directors received the Impact Award this year, and of them, Stevens, who was nominated by Abby Feldpausch and Leah Mosher, far and away represented the smallest school district. According to the description, it recognizes “educators and community members who go above and beyond to support the high school musical experience.”


“She’s just an awesome person, and she always wants to put on the best show possible. She’s such a caring person, and we couldn’t think of anyone more deserving than her,” Feldpausch said of Stevens. “The theater (at BCLUW) was so welcoming, and that’s just a product of her and how she wanted things to be.”


A native of far southwest Iowa who graduated from UNI and first arrived in Conrad to teach business before meeting her husband Brad, Stevens had never directed before she agreed to take over for Kerry Carson in 2014. It wasn’t something she’d ever included in her long-term plans, but as a mother of two sons who were active in theater, a skilled pianist and an avid consumer of the arts, the idea became less crazy the more she thought about it. 


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