The amazing Janelle Berge, as written by a wannabe Marketing Assistant Intern

Alecia Hupperts is one of the two new Marketing Assistant Interns at Trollwood Performing Arts School this summer. She is a Mass Communication major with an emphasis in advertising at Minnesota State University Moorhead and has been working with Janelle Berge this past year on the American Advertising Federation of North Dakota’s Board of Directors. This summer she will be taking on some of the graphic design projects Janelle is leaving behind as Janelle moves to California this June.

There has quite possibly never been anyone that has embodied the Trollwood spirit more than Janelle Berge.

Janelle Berge has been the graphic designer here out at Trollwood for 18 years, but this season will be her last. She is the emotional backbone of the year-long administrative staff, always lending an ear to listen to anyone who needs it. Luckily before she left, Janelle spent a few minutes with me to reminisce about the last 18 years.

“It was a dream come true to work here. It didn’t take long for me to realize this was a family of fun and incredible people”

Janelle started out at a specialty advertising company in Chicago right after college. Later she moved to Minneapolis to work as a “one person art department” for a silk screening company. Her journey at Trollwood began when she moved to Fargo for family and started working at the Moorhead Schools office doing attendance. When word got out about her creative genius, she was hired on at Trollwood as the graphic designer and has been the mastermind behind many of the Second Stage, Mainstage Musical and Totally Trollwood Musical posters and playbills ever since.  Janelle explained that the atmosphere at Trollwood is just one of a kind, and I can definitely vouch for that! All the employees from administrative to production are always eager to do what they can to create an amazing show for both the students participating and the FM community attending.

Just to see, I asked Janelle about the biggest obstacle she faced in her 19 years at Trollwood. However, Janelle is far too optimistic and hard working to view anything as a serious obstacle. Janelle explained that “time constraints can prove to be difficult, but we always work together as a team to make sure things get done on time or to help someone out who feels stretched to their limits.”

Two Superwomen

The other half of the marketing team at Trollwood is Lisa Farnham who is the architect behind all those red tables and chairs at Trollwood events. Janelle and Lisa have worked closely, both figuratively and literally, since the old Trollwood campus. Janelle’s favorite memory is when she and Lisa used to work in the trailer houses at the old park. The trailers weren’t level and their desks were so close that if Janelle didn’t permanently keep her foot hooked on her desk, the chair would roll away with Janelle in it right into Lisa! Janelle also chuckled remembering that the administrative team didn’t even have bathrooms and instead they would have to hike over to the main building. One thing has remained the same in the move to the new park though; Janelle is still the coffee maker.
Lucky for me, that IS a major piece of Janelle’s job that I can fulfill – I’ve got four years of Caribou Coffee under my belt.

Sadly enough, Janelle’s stay at Trollwood has come to an end. She is moving on to the next adventure in California with her husband Steve.  What will we do when she leaves? It’s hard to say. The most I can tell you is that I’m picking up where she left off on graphic design projects, but her impact on Trollwood can never be replaced. She will always be a part of the Trollwood family and her posters will hang in Marcil Commons as tribute to her artistic contributions.  Thank you for a wonderful 18 years and may the next be even better!

An interview with Trollwood’s new website designer

Trollwood Performing Arts School is set to announce the 2013 Mainstage Musical through the launch of an all-new website for the organization. Over the years, Trollwood has been fortunate to partner with some awesome companies, like Sundog. They have designed all three of Trollwood’s websites, including this new one about to launch!

Sundog’s creative team assigned to the Trollwood website redesign: L to R, Jodi McGregor, Annika Nynas, Dirk Monson, and Heidi Haaven.

Sundog assigned an amazing creative team to work on our new website for the past several months, including Project Manager Jodi McGregor, Web Developer Dirk Monson, Marketing Coordinator Heidi Haaven, and Annika Nynas, an Associate Creative, all pictured above.

Annika has worked at Sundog for a year and a half, and she’s the creative genius behind Trollwood’s new website design. We were able to talk with her recently about her work on our project, and thought you’d like to understand how our new design became reality, and get to know Annika a bit, too:

Q: You obviously design websites, but do you have other job duties at Sundog?

A: I feel fortunate I get to work on a wide variety of projects at Sundog. Online ads, event invites, box wrap decals, Facebook tabs, info-graphics and signage are some examples of graphic design work I’ve had the opportunity to work on. But as my job title states, I’m a “creative,” meaning my role can extend beyond graphic design. Examples of a few odd-jobs I’ve done would be making decorations for events I’ve helped plan, baking cupcakes for interns, photographing internal events and being in a TV commercial. It’s a lot of fun to have such a range of projects. 

Q: What was your inspiration for creating Trollwood’s new website design?

A: Pulling off a musical like Legally Blonde or Music Man requires far more than what you see as an audience member. In addition to cast members memorizing lines and dances, a lot of hard work and preparation goes into things like lighting, sound, set design and costuming. For the new Trollwood website, I wanted to give visitors the opportunity to learn and engage with these less obvious roles.

By using textures and colors reminiscent of set building and costume materials, my hope was to create a well-rounded view of Trollwood Performing Arts School and all it offers. Other artistic elements and treatments also reflect the location of Trollwood’s facilities, most specifically the outdoor Imagine Amphitheater. (Fun fact: The footer of the website was created from a photo of the actual wood of the amphitheater arches.)

There is a large amount of content for users to explore on the Trollwood website, so I wanted to make things clear, yet also fun to interact with. I tried to achieve this by creating things such as colored paintbrush strokes to differentiate main program content, and “buy now” ticket graphics to visually highlight action items. Key information such as dates, times and tickets are featured prominently on the site, as well as positive alumni quotes, which allow viewers to get a more personal experience visiting the site.

Q: Will you share your special connection to Trollwood?

A: This project was particularly enjoyable for me because I am a dancer of 20 years, and I’ve been a dance teacher for four years at a studio that works closely with Trollwood’s summer dance programs. I was eager to work on this redesign because I felt a personal connection to the organization and the performing arts, as well as the materials and visual elements nostalgic to my own performing days.

Thanks, Annika, for putting your he-“art” and soul into creating Trollwood’s exciting new website design! See Annika’s creative site design at – which launches live at 4:00 PM on December 10th, 2012!


Afterschool Theatre Program Comes Alive!

First published 10/4/2012 in the Fargo Public School’s electronic newsletter,
The Journey
Written by Tim Morrissey

Two groups of Kennedy Elementary students are getting ready to debut the latest performing arts programming in the Fargo Public Schools, thanks to a building-level partnership with Trollwood Performing Arts School.

group of students in theatre rehearsal

TCT Director Joan Degerness works with Kennedy students to stage “Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids.”

On October 12 and 13, two groups of students enrolled in the first-ever Trollwood Children’s Theatre (TCT) afterschool program will take to the stage to perform Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids. The programs, which took shape last spring, are created for students in grades K-2 and grades 3-5. The activities are taught and coached by theatre and elementary education professionals, designed to expose students to the world of theatre performance and production.

Students in the grade 3-5 program have been immersed in the activity’s creative process since September 18, and have become cast and crew for their production. In the K-2 program, held the week leading up to the performances, professionals engage those students in introductory theatre games, voice instruction, and movement. The K-2 program concludes with public pre-show performances prior to the Disney production.

TCT has been in the works for a year, and on the radar even longer. It is the brainchild of TPAS Executive Director Kathy Anderson and Moorhead music educator Joan Degerness. The two wanted to create a program for kids that could literally be delivered to schools, unpacked and bolted together. Funding for Trollwood to design and implement TCT – approximately $7,000 in start-up costs – finally became available in 2012, in part due to grant funds awarded by The Arts Partnership.

TCT is designed as a turnkey program, in a way that participating schools can cover costs through their own means: registration fees, ticket sales, Parent-Teacher Associations, or other sources.

In the spring, the concept was introduced to Fargo elementary principals. Kennedy Principal Jerry Hanson became the first to request it, with support from his school’s PTA. Following the finish of the Trollwood summer musical in August, Anderson, Degerness, and TPAS Program Coordinator Nancy Glaser set about organizing teams to build and create Kennedy’s program so that it would be ready to launch in September. Many of the people on the teams include Trollwood alumni.

Kennedy students will showcase the inaugural production of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids on the auditorium main stage at Discovery Middle School on Friday, Oct. 12 (7:00 p.m.) and Saturday, Oct. 13 (2:00 p.m.). Tickets for the shows can be purchased at the Kennedy office or at the door. Tickets are $5.00 (adults) and $3.00 (students). Age 5 & under are free.

After the curtain closes, Glaser and Anderson will review the Kennedy program and plan for future sessions of TCT. Their vision is to continue developing teams and productions to be available in partnerships with other school districts in the region.

In the meantime, the Kennedy students are right where they want to be…in the spotlight.

Trollwood/Bluestem Vision articulated by TPAS Co-Founder

On Sunday, June 17th, 2012 The Forum published a letter to the editor written and submitted by Trollwood Performing Arts School Co-Founder and former Executive Director, Vicki Chepulis. Due to space constrictions, Vicki’s original letter was edited. The following commentary is her unedited version submitted to The Forum.


2009, group photo of Vicki Chepulis and TPAS staff

Vicki Chepulis (far right) and TPAS staff members making a 2009 orientation presentation.








What is now Bluestem Center for the Arts was conceived as a new, stable home in which Trollwood Performing Arts School would become a world class arts center, much like internationally recognized Interlochen Center for the Arts, which also began as a summer youth arts program.

I had the privilege of co-founding and serving as executive director of Trollwood Performing Arts School, watching it grow in size and impact for 32 years, serving students and audiences from both sides of the river from the first year of operation in 1978.

As a program of the Fargo Schools, offered in collaboration with the Fargo Park Board, the first fifteen years solidified TPAS as a staple on the slate of summer entertainment and arts education options. However, summer floods in 1993 began an ongoing threat of floods and erosion in our North Fargo home.

For the next ten years, we (the Trollwood team–Trollwood staff, Fargo School board reps, community supporters and eventually FutureBuilders, our nonprofit fundraising arm) searched for solutions, from adapting Trollwood Park to exploring several sites in Fargo and Cass County. Among those options was integrating TPAS’s facility needs into the Fargo high school remodeling projects, moving the school indoors, at the cost of millions of dollars to the Fargo Schools.

Eventually we accepted an invitation to look at Moorhead, resulting in an offer to move to south Moorhead and $5.5 million support from the Minnesota State Legislature, contingent upon completing the project by the end of 2008. 

Hundreds of community members were invited to participate in creating a vision of how TPAS could best serve the public through growth in this new location. A master plan was designed, and fundraising began. Over the course of two years Trollwood staff, working with FutureBuilders, raised millions of dollars to match the Minnesota bonding money. Efforts continued to raise the money for the remaining construction costs, as well as five years of operating expenses. As the deadline approached, the Fargo School Board provided loans so the construction project could be completed and the legislative dollars secured. 

Unfortunately, a new organizational structure was established that immediately generated difficulties, resulting in ungainly management, unsuccessful fundraising, unhealthy work environment, and stifled efforts to provide innovative and community-responsive programming. 

I believe that recent Fargo School Board decisions pave the way for promising renewal.  By assuming the lease and developing a workable organizational structure, the school board will set the stage for the original vision to be realized and surpassed.

The next step is the creation of a managing authority, composed of stakeholders and arts advocates, including people who have worked tirelessly to make this vision a reality.

While it’s positive to reference a local model like the Dome Authority for the composition of this group, I encourage the leaders to look outside athletic/entertainment venue model as they develop the rest of the organizational structure. Numerous examples of flourishing arts centers provide more appropriate and inspiring reference points to establish a successful organizational structure. Thriving arts centers follow the basic principle of one leader with one team, working together toward common goals, based upon a clearly articulated vision shared by all. That may sound like simple and clear common sense, however the current situation at Bluestem/Trollwood Performing Arts School is the opposite of this.

Among the first responsibilities of the managing authority will be hiring a Director/CEO–a single leader, with visionary experience in providing artistry and innovatively serving the community, while operating an efficient and fiscally responsible organization. All other functions-facility scheduling, maintenance, programming (including TPAS’s grade 1-12 summer programs), fundraising, financial management, marketing/community relations should be conducted by staff and volunteers who report to this dynamic leader or her/his department heads, carrying forth the plan articulated by the managing authority. Examples abound of arts leaders who capably manage complex organizations as successful businesses, debunking the myth that people with artistic sensibilities lack the capacity to also think and act strategically. Having a capable, visionary leader at the helm is critical to creating a world class arts center known for excellence and innovation.

The current Trollwood team, under the leadership of Kathy Anderson, has done an outstanding job of serving area youth, while working with half the previous budget and in an extremely challenging work environment. In fact, there are now more kids served at TPAS than ever before. In a few weeks they will open “Legally Blonde,” and demonstrate the many theatrical capabilities of the new stage, while showcasing the talents of teenagers from our region. This capable Trollwood staff shares my passion for growing the organization into all that was promised to our donors and the community. This new direction should give them the “green light” to begin doing that.

As the community experiences the benefits of this new regional resource through concerts, festivals, and performances featuring national and local talent, quality education programs for all ages, and through use of the site’s beautiful facilities, and forthcoming wooded trails, beautiful gardens, family picnic and outdoor play centers; history shows that they in turn will seek out ways to support its viability for the future, through donations of money and their volunteer time.

There’s a lot of work ahead, but the Fargo School Board has taken an important first step, and now has the opportunity to make choices that will ensure that this world class arts center serves the public for future decades, and significantly adds to Fargo-Moorhead’s growing reputation for exceptional arts and education programs.

Submitted to The Forum by Vicki Chepulis, co-founder and former executive director of Trollwood Performing Arts School

Fargo Public Schools committed to Trollwood

 A letter from Dr. Rick Buresh, Superintendent of Fargo Public Schools

Fargo Public Schools (FPS) is proud to offer the programs provided under the umbrella of Trollwood Performing Arts School (TPAS). Going back as many as thirty years, FPS and Fargo Parks and Recreation collaborated to establish the school to provide enrichment opportunities for area youth in a variety of performing arts specialties. Since then, Trollwood has continued to grow, expand, and eventually move to the new site in south Moorhead. While providing high quality performing arts opportunities for area youth and an appreciative adult audience, TPAS has also been able to provide valued mentoring experiences to youth at risk. TPAS has enjoyed a cherished status within our community largely for the high quality wholesome performances, for the high quality developmental opportunities in the arts, for the positive personal relationships among students and staff, and for the high-impact personal growth afforded its students. Each year’s Mainstage Musical gets lots of positive attention as the flagship public display of the “end product” of TPAS’ programming. However, it is but one of many developmental programs hosted at TPAS serving hundreds of area students of all ages.

Much has been written lately about the struggles of Bluestem and FPS to find a solid financial footing for the facility in which TPAS exists. We are confident that these challenges are temporary and that this wonderful performing arts center will long be available to serve as a home for TPAS and as a venue for other regional performing arts groups interested in performing for a local and regional audience.

TPAS is funded and supervised through the Fargo Public Schools. In addition to its regular FPS base support, its budget is enhanced by other revenue from ticket sales, concession sales, grants, tuition from participants, donations, and support of the Bluestem organization. TPAS, under the direction of Executive Director Kathy Anderson, has lived within its budget, and when asked to do so, has found ways to reduce costs and find more economical ways to accomplish their mission, all without sacrificing youth programming. The program is led by a competent team of leaders, organizers, teachers, production staff, and dedicated volunteers. TPAS enjoys tremendous support from the community and from the hundreds of accomplished alumni and parents who look back on their Trollwood years with great appreciation and fondness.

Several additional summer arts programs have sprung up in recent years in the community. They provide quality options for area students and each seems to be staking out a niche in the local market. There appears to be an abundance of talent looking for opportunities to perform and learn. It is good for the community and for our kids to have options. Despite the increased competition, participation at TPAS continues to grow. We look forward to a long and successful future for Trollwood Performing Arts School within Fargo Public Schools.

Thank you for your support of Trollwood. We hope you enjoy this year’s edition of TPAS.



TPAS Alum Wins Indie Fest Award

Los Angeles, California, Thursday, November 17 – Steven Molony, of Clever Lever Pictures, has won a prestigious Award of Merit from The Indie Fest.  Malony, a TPAS alum and 2006 Fargo South High School graduate, was awarded the only lead actor award in a feature-length film!  The award was given for Molony’s exciting performance as the lead role of Alex in Dan Glaser’s feature film “Pinching Penny” which is the story of a British hypochondriac who turns to crime after becoming addicted to consumerism. As his obsession worsens, his life falls quickly into the absurd and he continues to spend himself deeper and deeper into depravity.  “Pinching Penny” was shot independently on a shoestring budget of $4,000 and features exceptional promise from Glaser as a director and from Molony as a rising actor. Glaser is another TPAS alum and a 2007 graduate of Fargo North High School.

“‘Pinching Penny’ is as refreshingly entertaining and funny as it is insightful.” – Jennifer Conley of Movie Pie.  “Steven Molony is great in the lead role of Alex … One good role, and he could prove to be something of a breakout star in the future.” – Josh Lyons of The Couch Potato Club.  Molony comments, “I’m thrilled to receive this award.  To have my name listed among so many talented artists who have received an Indie before me is truly an honor.  I’m very grateful to all those who made this possible, and especially to Dan Glaser for casting me in this project three years back.”  Glaser writes of working with Molony, “To have worked so closely with as fine an actor as Steven Molony on our debut film was not only an enthralling experience, but also an immense honor.  He approaches his craft with such deft dedication and respect, that I have nothing but the utmost faith in his ability to bring extra life to every role.  I’d trust him completely to tackle any film head-on… and bring with that attack an intensity that’s really something to behold.”

The Indie Fest recognizes film professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change.  Entries are judged by highly qualified professionals in the film industry.  Information about the Indie Fest and a list of recent winners can be found at

In winning an Indie, Steven Molony joins the ranks of other high-profile winners of this internationally respected award.  Thomas Baker, Ph. D., who chairs the Indie Fest, had this to say about the latest winners, “The Indie is not an easy award to win.  Entries are received from around the world.  The Indie helps set the standard for craft and creativity. The judges were pleased with the exceptionally high quality of entries.  The goal of The Indie is to help winners achieve the recognition they deserve.”

For more information visit Steven Molony’s website at


“New. Bigger. More.” best describe our 2011 TPAS season

Our 34th Trollwood Performing Arts School season is on the history books—and what a year it was! Check out these stats:

More. In 2011 TPAS directly served 508 individual students, an increase of 6% over 2010—which was a banner enrollment year itself. Those students represented more than 25 school districts from 5 states. Our 2011 programs together served 859 students and ran at 94% capacity. More students are individually doing more things at Trollwood, which meant a 38% increase in program participation over the last two years.

Bigger. Those 508 students participated in 89 learning opportunities, across 9 programs, for 61,626 hours total of instructional time—which equates to over 7 years of teaching!! And an incredible 99% of students surveyed felt they achieved the goals they had set for themselves while at Trollwood.

New. And most astounding of all, 57% —289 young people— of our 2011 student body was new to Trollwood, having never taken a class or participated in a TPAS program before! Trollwood also offered two new learning opportunities this winter: a Glee Choir and an Improvisation Troupe, which met evenings and weekends, and culminated with a joint performance in April.

Better! 95% of student participants rated the quality of their 2011 Trollwood experience as high or very high. And 90% of the audience for The Music Man rated the performance quality as high or very high.

A special nod for the year goes to our middle school programs, Totally Trollwood Academy and Totally Trollwood Musical, for sustaining and growing beyond 2010’s wildly successful numbers. Our 2011 middle schoolers presented Into the Woods, Junior—and participation was so popular, we created two casts rather than turn away students!  

So, a huge KUDOS to all the students, families, volunteers, staff and
audience members who made 2011 an amazing year at Trollwood!

2012 Summer Musical Show Announced!

Trollwood Performing Arts School announced—at an earlier date than in any other year of the organization’s history—our 2012 summer Mainstage Musical show selection via our facebook page at 4:00 PM this afternoon.

Trollwood’s summer musical for 2012 is the Regional Premiere of “LEGALLY BLONDE The Musical.”

Show dates for “LEGALLY BLONDE The Musical” are set for July 12-14, 18-21, and 24-28, 2012 at Bluestem Center for the Arts, home of Trollwood Performing Arts School, on the Chepulis-Marks Stage at Imagine Amphitheater, 801 50th Ave SW, Moorhead.

Group tickets will go on sale in March, 2012 and the regular box office will open in June. Cast and orchestra auditions, which are open to all high school students currently in grades 8 through 12 will occur after the first of the year.

Music Theatre International of New York released the amateur production rights for this popular movie-turned-musical only yesterday (September 15), and Trollwood is excited to make this announcement less than 24 hours later.  

The Broadway musical based on the movie opened at the Palace Theater on April 29, 2007 and ran for 595 performances, closing on October 19, 2008. The musical was written by Laurence O’Keefe, with Laura Bell Bundy starring as Elle Woods. Laura Bell Bundy was nominated for the 2007 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

TPAS alumna and former Moorhead resident Becky Gulsvig has starred in the show’s title role of “Elle Woods” for the National Tour and in a special appearance on this year’s televised Tony Awards Show, and was in the original Broadway cast of “LEGALLY BLONDE The Musical.”

The “IT” factor for dinner and a show under the stars

Trollwood musical performance on Bluestem stage

Trollwood's 32nd annual musical, Anything Goes, presented in 2010 at Bluestem Center for the Arts.

Trollwood Performing Arts School is set to stage another summer musical—its 33rd, in fact. Experience the laughter, familiar melodies, and heart-warming scenes of The Music Man, with performances July 14-16, 20-23, and 27-30 for 2011.

These annual shows are the region’s largest attended arts performance and have won both regional and national artistic and people’s choice awards throughout the years. But what exactly is “it” that makes Trollwood’s musicals so popular year after year with the people of the region?

Show selection certainly plays a part. Broadway show tune recognition, performance opportunities for a large cast, and broad audience appeal are all considered when selecting the musical for each season.

Another “it” factor is a musical with an engaging artistic vision that is a creative collaboration of regionally and nationally recognized artists and theatre professionals, who in turn guide a talented cast, orchestra, and technical crews comprised of area teens.

Bluestem Center for the Arts, a recently constructed $13M facility, located in south Moorhead, MN, is the home of Trollwood Performing Arts School. The Imagine Amphitheater on the Bluestem campus is an outdoor amphitheater (it is so much more than a ‘stage!’) where Trollwood musicals are presented, can’t help but draw crowds on its own, and give them a “Wow!” feeling.

But the whole of “it” can best be summed up with the word “experience” and ALL that encompasses at a Trollwood musical. Patrons experience a night worth remembering!

Come for an alfresco dinner at Imagine Café before the show, and enjoy a freshly grilled chicken breast sandwich, a gourmet burger, or even steak and kabobs, expertly prepared by Oven Door Catering.

Let your graze drift across the expansive grounds of Bluestem Center for the Arts as the sun begins to set on a lazy Midwest summer evening.

The anticipation of a night of well-produced theatre builds as tuning notes from the production orchestra waft through the air.

A smiling usher takes you to your spot in the ampthitheater, where the variegated colors of the general admission stone bench seating and the 1,000 reserved theatre seats live in natural harmony with four Douglas Fir arches soaring over the expansive stage, and backed by the wooded riverbanks of the mighty Red.

A hush descends on the entire crowd as the first line of the night’s performance is delivered ….

At some point during the night, between soaring vocal notes, glances at your toe-tapping neighbor, and smiles that spontaneously break out on your face in response to the action unfolding on stage, you look up at the stars, winking at you in the night sky. You’ve just experienced theatre like you can never experience it anywhere else.

Then you, too, understand “it,” and know why people come back year after year to experience another Trollwood Performing Arts School musical. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget. See you at this summer’s show!


2011 TPAS musical
The Music Man
July 14-16, 20-23, and 27-30
American Sign Language interpreted and Audio Described performance—July 22
8:30 PM
Imagine Amphitheater, Bluestem Center for the Arts, Moorhead

Tickets online
Reservations and Group Sales 218-477-6502
Enjoy dinner before the show at Imagine Café, and browse our Silent Auction.
All proceeds benefit TPAS programs and scholarships funds.

National Volunteer Week is April 10-16, 2011

Trollwood Performing Arts School is like other service and education organizations: we depend upon a force of volunteers to deliver our programs to the public, and accomplish daily operational tasks. They donate countless hours of their time and talent to make our organization run smoothly and “look good!” In honor of National Volunteer Week, TPAS is proud to showcase one of our many dedicated volunteers:

The Snortlands: Olivia, Julie and Mickey

Julie Snortland (center) and husband Mickey congratulate daughter Olivia after a Trollwood musical performance last summer.

Worth her weight in gold (or is that yellow bricks?)!
Some begin as just parents of student participants, others are community members passionate about youth or the arts, but all are Trollwood FRIENDS after their time as TPAS volunteers!

Julie Snortland and husband Mickey are north side Fargo residents and farm near Sharon, ND. Julie first became a TPAS volunteer in 2002, as son Blake was involved in Trollwood’s mainstage and classes. Daughters Eliza and Olivia have since been on the Trollwood stage, and now their youngest child, Alanna, is involved in Trollwood classes and productions.

Trollwood ambassador, costume shop seamstress, props helper, set painter, silent auction attendant, microphone capsule installer for actors, and usher are all volunteering jobs held by Julie over the last ten years. She seems to have found her calling, and has turned volunteerism into an avocation, coordinating props and helping with costumes for area school theatre productions and her church in recent years.

We asked Julie for her thoughts on volunteering at Trollwood, and here’s what she had to share: What do you enjoy most as you volunteer at TPAS? We learn so much from the professionals. Working together builds friendships with parents, volunteers and staff, and there’s always laughter and good times, along with a feeling of significant accomplishment.

Why do you volunteer at Trollwood? The invitation to volunteer is sincere, and the staff is helpful and appreciative. We know we’re making a difference in the production, but more importantly, we’re making a positive difference for our own children and the children of others, as they all strive to learn and excel.

Do YOU benefit by volunteering at TPAS? Being on campus, volunteering during rehearsals, is so satisfying. Unless you’re a teacher, you don’t get many opportunities to see kids in action, learning and growing. It is inspiring to watch them during the process, and then to see their final product on stage.

What is your favorite experience as a Trollwood volunteer? For the production party, some brave parents perform a little musical skit that spoofs the mainstage show. It doesn’t get any sillier than this, and having a chance to entertain the troops is our gift of thanks to them, and they even laugh at our antics!

What would you tell someone who is considering a 2011 Trollwood volunteer experience? Just put your foot in the water, and you’ll find that it’s a warm, refreshing experience. You don’t even have to know how to swim; they’ll teach you what you need to know.

Mickey and I have missed only 2 or 3 Trollwood productions in ten years. That’s roughly 150 shows! Mickey drives 90 miles one way from the farm to attend the show, and returns afterwards. Like any activity your children are involved with, supporting them is a great joy and privilege. The calibre of Trollwood productions doubles the fun. We catch something new every time we watch a show, by focusing on different students and their roles each evening.

Thanks, Julie, from the very bottom of our hearts for devoting your time and sharing your talents with the students, families, and patrons of Trollwood Performing Arts School. We appreciate your volunteer efforts more than we can adequately say!

If you would like to join the ranks of folks who gain by giving their time and talents as a commuity volunteer, and would like to volunteer at Trollwood Performing Arts School, contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Nancy Glaser at 218.477.6513 or