Lydia Benesh – Mount Vernon’s First STO Chair


Abigail Morf

Every year students across Iowa write resumes, fill out applications and undergo interviews to be elected as one of the seven State Thespian Officers (STOs). Once elected students serve a yearlong term in which they attend monthly board meetings to advocate for and support student thespians. “We plan a leadership day, we go see shows, write monthly newsletters, and then we lead the State Thespian Festival,” said junior Lydia Benesh, Chair of the 2021-2022 STO board. 

Each of the seven STO positions has a specific role. Benesh served as a Junior Thespian Officer last year, focusing on leading the middle school State Thespian Festival. After a Friday morning interview Benesh and her fellow STOs from the previous year attended a show, and while sitting in the audience the elected STOs had been posted online. Not only had Benesh been reelected, she was given the Chair position. “I almost started crying,” said Benesh, “It was a big honor.” 

Benesh expressed her gratitude after earning this leadership position.  “I feel so lucky to do theatre in general, I am very aware of the privilege I have,” she said. “Especially in Iowa, a lot of kids don’t get the same opportunities as we do in Mount Vernon because we are a very arts heavy town.” She is excited to help other students across the state, and is proud that she was deemed most capable to do so. 

While leading the State Thespian officers, Benesh also works with directing and leading thespian activities in Mount Vernon. “It helps me be a better team player and more supportive,” she said. “You get to help other people reach their full potential.” 

Benesh is currently co-leading a Musical Theatre speech group, and students from this group are honored to have the opportunity to work with and learn from Benesh.

“I look up to Lydia so much, she is genuinely one of the smartest hardworking women I know and I’m lucky to have her as a coach, classmate, and friend.”

— Remy Merrill

Junior Remy Merrill admires how Lydia is able to push the group to be better through constructive criticism, always explaining why she wants something to be different. “I look up to Lydia so much, she is genuinely one of the smartest hard working women I know,” Merrill said. “I’m lucky to have her as a coach, classmate, and friend.” 

Junior Finley McVay is another member of Benesh’s speech group, and similarly adores her supportive and caring coaching. “We couldn’t do it without her,” she said.