The Barlow VIPS (Very Involved Parents and Supporters) are a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the students in Sam Barlow’s Theatre and Choir Programs. We strive to embody fearless commitment, and radical empathy, while helping the students develop their skills for self-advocacy. We are proud to walk side by side with all students, always remembering that they are our reason.
We've got a new look! Here's why -
The 2020-2021 school year is going to be different than any other year we have ever experienced in every way imaginable. One thing that we know will be extremely different is physical touch. For everyone’s safety, we can’t have physical contact right now. This graphic is a representation of the VIPS helping to support the students. But this year, that has taken on a whole new meaning. This year, we can’t touch. This image represents what we all want so desperately. Connection. Whether we can physically hold students' hands or not, we will always be connected to them and supporting them, because that's what we do. The virus has taken a lot away from us all. But it can’t take that.
p.s - merch coming soon!!
Three ways to be involved
Meet the Board
VIP BOARD 2020-2021
Missy Thies, Heidi Thies, Stefanie Craft, Wendy Hull, Emily Kohler, Ben Kohler, Angelia Johnson, Gus Johnson (plus Jeff and Amber Schroeder bc we love them)
Masked up of course, because we love each other and we love YOU.
Heidi Thies & Missy Thies
Heidi Thies (Vice President & Missy Thies (President)
Heidi and Missy are a mother and daughter duo that have been involved with the Barlow Performing Arts since Heidi was in High School. Heidi graduated in 2017 and you may remember her as Rizzo in Grease, a Narrator in Joseph or Annie Sullivan in Miracle Worker. She was also Co-President of the troupe her Senior year. Missy quickly got involved in the VIPS, and eventually joined the Executive Board, and was asked to take over as Vice President in 2017. Once Heidi graduated in 2017, she also joined the Board as the Media Chair, and this year they have stepped into the roles of President and Vice President. Missy has a younger daughter, Audrey that is a Senior this year who is also very involved in the program. Heidi and Missy collectively spent 990 hours working on VIP related projects just last year! Heidi and Missy have been running hair and makeup for all shows for 3 years now, and love all the quality time they get to spend with the kids during that. Heidi also directed last year’s full length show The Complete Works of William Shakespeare - Abridged that was performed in March. Heidi and Missy also had such a blast running the successful Courtyard Fountains Fundraiser in February. If you know them, you know these girls never go home. They are always looking for a reason to be at the school, and with the kids. This really stems from early on in 2016-2017 when the Thies family was really going through a rough patch, and this department really saved them.
Stefanie Craft & Wendy Hull
Stefanie Craft (Treasurer) & Wendy Hull (Secretary)
Wendy and Stefanie are both instrumental members of this team that really deserve a lot of credit. Stefanie is the founder of this organization, and since the conception has always done what was right for the VIPS, and this year that happened to be her moving from President to Treasurer. Stef’s gifts have always surrounded treasury, and this is where she has always wanted to be, and we are so thankful to have her to help us during this financial crisis due to Covid-19. Stefanie started the VIPS when her son Tristan was in high school (who is the same age as Heidi), and has stayed committed since then. You may remember Tristan as Danny in Grease, or Josh in Bang, Bang, You’re Dead! (2016). Stefanie also has two other sons, Lucas who is involved in Choir, as well as Aidan who is an incoming Freshman. Wendy has been on the VIP Board for 2 years now, and got involved when her daughter Avery was in high school. You may remember her as Tanya in Mamma Mia! Wendy has also been the Costumer for several Barlow shows now, which keeps her very connected to the kids. Wendy has decided to take on the role of Secretary this year, as we had an opening after a Board Member left us, and we are so thankful, as Wendy is incredibly reliable and always ready to work. One of the unique things about the VIPS is even after a parent’s child has graduated, it doesn’t mean that they no longer want to be involved. Avery graduated in 2019, but Wendy actually increased her responsibilities with the VIPS. Thats the kind of community we have created.
Gus Johnson & Angelia Johnson
Gus Johnson(Board) & Angelia Johnson(Board)
Gus and Angelia were one of the first names that came up when the previous bored was talking about who to invite on for this year. They are hard working, intelligent, and have a lot to offer the program. Gus and Angelia have 3 children, current Senior Stanley, current Sophomore Madeline and College student Alyson. You may have heard Stanley singing in Barlow Sound, Concert Choir, or even “The Concords”. We were so excited to see Madeline shine in 42nd Street last year, but we’ll have to wait a little longer to see her make her theatre debut (sigh), we were able to see her in Treble Choir though! Gus and Angelia have immediately stepped up to take over a lot of responsibilities, which has been amazing. Gus is also the first one to put forward a motion that needs to be voted on, and really helps keep us on task. The Johnsons also offer such a fresh perspective for us, and it was really time to bring something fresh into the mix. We needed some new voices, and some new ideas, and with the Kohlers and Johnsons, we were able to get that. Now lets just hope we don’t scare them away.
Ben Kohler & Emily Kohler
Ben Kohler (Board) & Emily Kohler (Board)
Ben and Emily Kohler are the legendary couple that brought us current Senior Abby Kohler and current Freshman Jack Kohler. Abby and Jack have both been involved in choir and theatre both at Barlow and at Deep Creek Damascus. You may have seen Abby in Mamma Mia! or as the Cook in Clue: On Stage. And if you have seen any middle school theatre, you may have seen Jack as Jafar in Aladdin Jr. or as Pumba in Lion King Jr. Ben and Emily are unique because they are multifaceted. One of Ben’s most impressive talents (there are many) is set building. Ben has been heavily involved with set construction at Deep Creek Damascus for years, and recently brought those skills over to Barlow (yay!!). Seriously, you should see what this man can do with a hammer, its incredible. Emily also has a lot of administrative talents, and is really great with organization. But the best thing about Emily is how unwaveringly supportive she is. If Emily is in the room, there is not a single person that will feel unsupported, or undervalued, because she won’t let them. The second anyone sends a message in the chat Emily immediately likes it. This may seem like no biggie, but the second someone feels undervalued, or talked over, its really hard to get that feeling to go away. Which is why its a good thing that when Em is in the room, no one has the chance to feel that way.
Amber Schroeder & Jeff Schroeder
Amber Schroeder (Choir Teacher) and Jeff Schroeder (Theatre Teacher)
Jeff and Amber Schroeder are truly an anomaly. “Wait, they’re married?” Yes. They’re married. Amber Schroeder, Barlow’s Choir Teacher and Jeff Schroeder, Barlow’s Theatre Teacher are in fact married. And believe it or not, it works. Like I said, an anomaly. I didn’t say it wasn’t hard to believe, I said it works. To the outside world, I can understand that this looks a little strange. But to us, it works perfectly. It is the best way to have successful communication, equal partnership, extreme understanding, radical empathy, and fearless love. We watch them every day, and let me tell you, it is remarkable. Jeff and Amber have had incredible success in their fields, and on top of it all have been able to raise a beautiful family and maintain a healthy marriage. The students are the number one reason the VIPS do what we do, but without the cooperation of Jeff and Amber, we would not be able to be as effective as we are. Wait, are we a sister wife??