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The Advisor

Getting Started

As your school's Cappies Advisor, you are responsible for making sure your school follows the rules.

Please read (and, when requested respond to) Cappies emails. Through the year, please make sure your school's database is complete and accurate, with correct names, phones, and emails.

We urge you to work with your Lead Critic to make sure every CIS User at your school (you, Show Director, Mentors, and all Critics) know how to log-in to CIS and use those pages correctly.

You do not need to read the complete Cappies Rules. If you wish to do so, you can find them on the Cappies web site,, on the "Rules & Forms" page. Some key rules are set by the Steering Committee of your Cappies Program. Your Program Director will advise you of those.

Enlisting Your Lead Critic

Your school's Lead Critic should help you, and others at your school, with all aspects of the Cappies. If you participated in Cappies last year, please note that, this year, we are requiring Lead Critics to take on several new responsibilities. We are counting on each school's Lead Critic to do this well. If necessary, you can replace your Lead Critic at any time.


All Critics at your school—including those who may have been Critics last year—must attend training. Your program may have an additional training session for Lead Critics. By the time you get this binder, most (perhaps all) of your Critics will have attended this. 

Lead Critics are given the responsibility—on the first school day after their training—to give your school's Cappies Advisor, Show Director, and Mentor their binders. 

Your school may have more than one Mentor or Show Director (for two Cappies Shows), in which case each one should have a binder. Your Program Director can supply you with these, as needed. Ask your Lead Critic to help with that. 

When the Lead Critic gives you (and the Show Director and Mentor, if they are other teachers) the binder, he or she will ask to schedule a meeting with you (and the others) before the first Cappies Show on the schedule. If you are familiar with the Cappies, 30 minutes will do. If not, please schedule one hour. 

For Show Directors or Mentors who not Advisors, and who are familiar with the Cappies, this meeting should take only about 15 minutes. For others, it could take between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on how many questions they have. 

If any of these persons are not teachers, the Lead Critic will ask them to come to the school to pick up their binder—and then, on a later occasion, to come again to meet with the Lead Critic. 

This initial meeting with the Lead Critic enables teachers (like you) to become familiar with the Cappies without having to attend a meeting away from school with Cappies officials. Any new Mentor (including, perhaps, you) will need to attend a separate training led by Cappies officials. Your Program Director will advise you of that. 

Before the meeting, please look through your binder, and others should do the same. 

In your meeting, you will do the following:

  • Review the materials in their binder. Point out what needs to be read carefully, and what can be scanned more quickly. (See the "Binder" section for a list.)
  • If you are new to the Cappies, look through the "The Cappies Advisor" section.
  • Look over the "Glossary" section, very quickly.
  • If you are familiar with the Cappies, look through the "New Rules" section.
  • Look through the "Consequences" section.
  • Everyone who is a Show Director or Mentor should look through the Award Category Guide, page by page, and the Award Category Eligibility form. Take as much time as needed to review the basics.
  • If your Lead Critic can't answer a question, please email your Program Director.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to log into and use CIS

In this meeting, you (as Advisor) should also do the following:

  • Decide whether you will ask Critics to take part in a writing exercise, like the one suggested in the "Review Writing" section, before their first Cappies Show—and, if so, how this will be done.
  • Discuss how you and your Lead Critic will together oversee Critic attendance and review writing performance over the year.
  • Schedule an initial meeting with Critics, at which you and your Lead Critic can both be present.

Meeting with Critics

When you schedule your meeting of all Critics at your school, please impress on everyone the importance of attending it.

You and your Lead Critic should together run this meeting, during which please do the following:

  • Review with them the materials in their binders. Show them what the need to read carefully, and what they can scan more quickly. (See the "Binder" section for a list.)
  • Look through the "Consequences" section, taking note of those that apply to Critics.
  • Look through the Award Category Guide, page by page, to make sure everyone understands the basics.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to log into and use CIS

Make sure every Critic submits a Parental Authorization Form—very important!

  • If they submitted one last year, they must do it again this year. They cannot review a show until Cappies officials have this in hand.
  • You should collect these forms for your entire team, and then mail them wherever your Program Director requests. You can help with this, as needed.

For rosters and schedules, please make sure they know to do the following:

  • Be able to receive emails and submit reviews online. (If any Critics do not have home email, please find a way to do this—at school or somewhere else. Remember that Critics generally need to write reviews on weekends.
  • Check their emails at least once every other day.
  • Use CIS to volunteer for, or decline shows.
  • Whenever they decline a Cappies Show, they must (at the same time) volunteer for a replacement show.
  • Alert the Lead Critic when they decline a Cappies Show assigned to your Team, so you can make sure your Team has at least half its members attending that show.

When attending Cappies Shows, please make sure they know to do the following:

  • Get to shows on time (45 minutes before curtain).
  • Not arrive less than 10 minutes before curtain, or they might not get a ticket.
  • Stay until the post-show discussion is over.
  • Bring their binders, and a writing implement.
  • Bring the forms they need.
  • Make sure they know how to get to Cappies Shows
  • Drive safely—or, better, have an adult drive them to and from Cappies Shows.

At a Cappies Show, please make sure they know to do the following:

  • Dress, and use language, in a manner appropriate to a school setting.
  • Keep the Cappies Room is for Critics only—before shows, too.
  • Don't sit with friends or family members in the theater.
  • Safeguard their valuables.
  • Don't meet and greet friends at the school whose show they're reviewing.
  • Don't talk about the Cappies Show outside the Cappies Room.

During discussions, please make sure they know to do the following:

  • Treat Mentors with the respect appropriate to a teacher in a school setting.
  • Respect other Critics like they would other students in a school setting.
  • Refrain from side conversations during discussions.
  • Stop talking when shushed.
  • Raise a hand to speak, speak only when called on, and stand when speaking.
  • Make points briefly, allowing time for others to speak.
  • Listen courteously and attentively to comments from others.
  • Respect opinions that may be different from their own.
  • Don't make comments that are sarcastic or unduly harsh.
  • Discard any personal trash, and help clean up the Cappies Room.
  • .Be courteous to parent Boosters who provide refreshments.
  • Leave the host school promptly, after turning in their forms.
  • Alert a Mentor if they need to wait for a pick-up, after a show.

After a Cappies Show, make sure they know the following:

  • Never discuss anything said in the Cappies Room about the Cappies Show with anyone who wasn't there (including you—unless there was a problem with decorum).
  • Never reveal how they scored a show.
  • Meet deadlines.
  • Follow rules on criticisms.
  • Always submit a review for every show they attend.

Alerting the Booster

Your Lead Critic will need to make sure your school's Booster gets the Booster Binder, but you might be able to help. Afterwards, the Lead Critic is asked to speak briefly with the Booster by phone, to alert him or her about the need for Critics to get to and from Cappies Shows safely, to describe what is required for your school's own Cappies Show, and to answer any questions the Booster might have.

Overseeing Your School's Participation

If you are not the only Mentor yourself, you are responsible for making sure the Show Director and Mentors from your school understand what they need to do, and comply with rules that apply with them. Make sure they receive, and read, their materials. 

Please look through the materials for them that are provided here.
Also, please make sure that any new Mentor from your school is trained, as required by the rules—and that every experienced Mentor knows any new rules and procedures. Also, please confirm that each Mentor sets an assignment schedule on a timely basis, knows those assignments as they approach, and requests any change in assignments on a timely basis.
If a Mentor misses more than one assignment, or fails to comply with the rules, the Steering Committee of your Cappies program may request you to replace him or her. (This is very rarely done.)
After your Lead Critic has spoken with the Booster, you might want to check with him or her to ask how he or she might wish to assist with your school's Cappies Show and help in other ways.
Please check with your school's Newspaper Contact, to ask if the school paper is willing to publish a Cappies review of your school's Cappies Show. Most school papers publish at least one Cappies review, and many publish two.
When nominations and awards are announced, and as the Cappies Gala is approaching, your Program Director may ask you for some assistance, on behalf of your school. Please make sure your Show Director is aware that your school can name up to four Commendees.
Your school cannot participate effectively in the Cappies if any part of your database is incomplete or inaccurate. Please work with the Program Director, as requested, to keep your school's Cappies database complete and accurate. If you know of any changes to any critic's (or adult participant's) email address or phone number, please make sure that person updates his or her database, via CIS

Overseeing Your Critics Team

As Advisor, you are responsible for making sure your Critics Team, and all individual Critics (including Critics from your school who are on a "regional team"), meet their responsibilities as required by the rules.

Lead Critic

You have already named your Lead Critic. In addition to helping with training, your Lead Critic should:

  • Know the rules well enough to help you make sure your school complies with them.
  • Understand CIS wll enough to help others figure it out (including you or other adults).
  • Attend every Lead Critic meeting (or send a designee).
  • Help you manage your school's Critics Team.
  • Assist with your school's own Cappies Show.

There will probably be two Lead Critics meetings—one at the start of the school year, and one midway through it. The first one is particularly important, because that's when the Lead Critics set the team schedules. If your school's Critics aren't represented at that, your Critics could end up with a schedule they don't like, with shows that are distant from where they live or at times that pose possible conflicts.

Your program's Steering Committee may impose a sanction—adding to your school's minimum review requirement—if your school is not represented at a Lead Critics meeting.

The Lead Critic is responsible for setting, and if necessary updating, the assignment schedule for your school's Critics Team. If your team needs to request a change in show assignments, the Lead Critic should be the one to email your Program Director. This must be done not later than 14 days before the assigned show, and the request must be accompanied by a list of at least three acceptable replacement dates.

Your Lead Critic needs to manage the Critics Team to be sure every one of their assigned shows is covered. For each one, the team must submit at least half as many reviews as there are members of the team. If the team has 3 or 4 Critics, then the team must submit at least 2 reviews. If 5 or 6 Critics, then 3 reviews. If 7 or 8 Critics, then 4 reviews. 

There is a clear sanction for failure to do this. For every review the team is short, one review gets added to the team's yearly minimum. If the school fails to submit any reviews twice, the Steering Committee can impose additional sanctions, including disqualification of your school's own Cappies Show. Please work with your Lead Critic to make sure this does not happen.

The Lead Critic will see the same Critic attendance and review record you will, so he or she can help you make sure all Critics are on path to meeting their required minimum number of reviews—which will prevent your school's own Cappies Show from being disqualified.
As award voting nears, your Lead Critic will schedule your school's Critics for that.

A Lead Critic must be capable of being an emergency Critic-Mentor, if for some reason no Mentors attend a Cappies Show. (This has only happened once in the history of the Cappies, but it could happen again at any show.) The Lead Critic Binder has instructions explaining what your Lead Critic should do in such a case.

Critic safety and security is very important. Your Lead Critic might help you, and your Booster, to keep an eye on how Critics are traveling to and from Cappies Shows.

One key responsibility of Lead Critics is to help you to make sure that all Critics from your school show good decorum at Cappies Shows. If you receive a report from a Mentor, or (more likely) from your Program Director, that any individual Critic from your school—or your entire team—broke the rules on decorum, you should hold your Lead Critic accountable. As appropriate, you might ask your Lead Critic to help improve things at future Cappies Shows


Critics must be students in grades 9 through 12 who are currently enrolled in your school, and who has not been prohibited by school authorities from participating in extracurricular activities.

After initial training, you can add (or replace) Critics in mid-year, if you have space on your roster. They will need to attend a mid-year training session for new Critics. 

Each Critic must be able to receive email and submit reviews online. If you have any Critics who do not have home email, please help them find a way to do this—at school or somewhere else. As you do, remember that Critics generally need to write reviews on weekends. 

In case of serious Critic misbehavior, Mentors are authorized to reprimand a Critic request his or her name and school name, and make a report to the Program Director. A Mentor can order a Critic to leave the Cappies Room, and/or Performing School, in case of disruptive misbehavior. Upon receiving a report of serious Critic misbehavior, the Program Director will notify you. You can take any disciplinary action you consider appropriate. 

At any time, for any reason, you can request that a Critic be removed from the roster. 

If any Critic fails twice to submit a review for an attended show, that Critic will be removed from the roster. 

If, for any reason, you ever want to reinstate a Critic who has been taken off the roster, email a request to the Program Director.


CIS will automatically sent you all reviews written by Critics from your school. You will not see how Mentors edit them. Please look through those reviews, to make sure every Critic is doing work of acceptable quality. If you want, you can use this as a teaching opportunity—about theater, writing, or both.

In all likelihood, Critics from your school will conduct themselves well, do excellent work, have a great time, and learn a lot.

Helping Keep Everything in Proportion

A key goal of the Cappies is to celebrate theater programs at all participating schools, and to help build a sense of community among theater and journalism students from different schools. You can help with this.

Please help keep school spirit within reasonable bounds—when reviews are received for your own school's Cappies Show, when nominations are announced, and when Cappie awards are presented. 

Reviews are sent to the Show Director, usually on the Monday following the Cappies Show. If you're not the Show Director, you might want to see those. In all likelihood some student work will receive critical comments, some students will be praised more than others, and some students may be disappointed in not being praised or mentioned. 

This very seldom comes up, but please be aware that it is against the rules for you, the Show Director, or any other teacher, parent, or student from the performing school, to discuss any review (published or not) with a Critic. 

The spirit with which the reviews are received by a cast and crew can depend on how you, and the Show Director, respond to the reviews. Please encourage them to take whatever useful things they can from the reviews, while keeping in mind that each review is one person's opinion, nothing more nor less. 

Nominations are announced within one to two days after the voting. Most Cappies programs post the nominations online. Per the cliché, the chips fall where they may. Your school may receive several nominations, or not many. (In large programs, some schools receive no nominations.) 

Tickets for the year-end Cappies Gala, tickets will be made available for your school to purchase. The number of available tickets, per school, and the price of tickets, will depend on the size of your Cappies program and the size of the Gala venue. The Show Director will be in charge of this, but you may wish to assist with ticket purchases, pick-ups, and distributions. 

Understandably, the size of each school's Gala ticket request may depend to some degree on the number of nominations that school has received and on any invitation for students from that school to perform at the Gala. Along with the Show Director, a Cappies Advisor can greatly influence student decisions about whether to attend a Cappies Gala, even if some disappointment is felt about a school's list of nominations. 

We encourage teachers and students from all participating schools to attend the Gala, cheer for students from all schools, and celebrate all the fine shows performed through the year. 

Cappie Awards are announced at the Cappies Gala. Your students may win the awards for which they're nominated, or not. If they do, kudos to everybody. If not, hooray for whoever won, and it's on to summer (and next year). 

Yes, it can be exciting, and feel rewarding, to your students (and to you) when your school receives multiple nominations and wins awards—but please do your best to encourage your students not to let it feel like a major disappointment if your show is not recognized as much as you expected. 

As your school's Cappies Advisor, you can greatly influence the attitude students take toward nominations and awards. Treat it as a learning experience. Remind them that the competition was very tough, which is almost always the case. Reassure them that receiving nominations and awards (or not receiving them) doesn't make a show any better (or worse) than it was when the curtain came down. 

No voting system is perfect, of course—and any outcome merely reflects the viewpoint of the judges, not any absolute truth—but great care is taken by program officials to make sure Cappies voting meets very high standards of fairness and integrity. If your students are disappointed in the results, it is important that you, as your school's Cappies Advisor, not give the students any reason to believe that the voting was in any way unfair or illegitimate. 

If any person wishes to appeal any voting outcome, he or she may do so by contacting your Program Director. This will result in a careful audit of the results by the Steering Committee, with the outcome of that audit reviewed by the Cappies Governing Board. The decision of the Governing Board will be final. Under the rules, no one—including a person appealing a voting outcome—may see the raw voting data. 

No matter where the awards go, students at your school (and you) will have a wonderful time at the Cappies Gala. 

Using CIS

The Cappies is a web-based organization, with a web site ( and "CIS," the password-accessible Cappies Information Services. Nearly all the email you'll receive from the Cappies will come via CIS 

Always, please read the Cappies emails you receive. If an email asks for a response, or some action by you, please respond, or take that action, as soon as you reasonably can.
Make sure your "spam-guard" does not block out emails from any Cappies address. If you do not know how to do this, please ask your Lead Critic (or another student) to help you.
You will have access to your own CIS page. This will enable you to find up-to-date information about schedules, the performance of your own school's Critics Team, and other items.
Your CIS "username" will be your school's two-letter code, followed by a dash, followed by the first letter of your first name, followed by the first seven letters of your last name. (If your school is South High, initials sh, and your name is Sam Johnston, your username would be: sh-sjohnsto). You will receive a password as soon as your school's on-line application is approved. As the Cappies Advisor, Show Director, and Mentor for your school, your username and password will be the same, for all three.
A new feature will soon be added to CIS enabling each school's Advisors, Show Directors, Mentors, and Lead Critics to email each other—and enabling all of them to email the school's Critics and Booster. This will assist you greatly in communicating directly with each other. You will be advised of this new feature when it is available.
Please read the instructions for CIS Spend some time with your school's Lead Critic to make sure you understand how to log-in, and how to use it. CIS may seem daunting, when you first encounter it, but it's simpler than it looks.

Making Comments or Asking Questions

If you change your email address, or any of your phone numbers, during the year, please use CIS to insert the change in the Cappies database

If you have any questions or comments, as you read this or anytime thereafter, please send an email to your Program Director via CIS

Thank you for your time, and for all you're doing for the Cappies.

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