Emerald Coast Theatre Company and Seaside Neighborhood School have announced their partnership and forming of the first Junior Thespian Group.

This is the only junior thespians troupe in Walton County.

This ensemble of thespians will be charter members of the Educational Theatre Association's Junior Thespians.

The new troupe will be competing with other chapters at the regional and state competitions with other chapters and making appearances within the community.

Emerald Coast Theatre Company is a non-profit theater company based in Miramar Beach and co-founded by Nathanael and Anna Fisher.

"We are honored to form this creative partnership with Seaside Neighborhood School," said Fisher. "It's such a natural win-win scenario. It enables ECTC to further enhance our educational outreach offerings to our community, and the fact that our middle-school students can now join the International Thespian Society will greatly enhance their theater education experience."

Fisher said he felt the need to make the move because the theater company's education program and middle school group have become more advanced over the years.

"We reached out to the International Thespian Society and were told we needed to be aligned with an accredited school. Seaside Neighborhood School has supported us since the beginning, so it was a perfect fit," he said.

For ECTC, this means growth.

"Hosting an accredited institution of middle schoolers means they will be able to participate and go to advanced training and present theater design. So the biggest advantage is really for middle schoolers," Fisher said. "They are becoming very advanced. This way they will get more classroom study instead of just production skills in theater."

The program is open to students in grades 6 to 8 who are interested in developing personally in the craft of acting while creating a unique performance piece with fellow players.

This troupe will focus on specialized training, acting techniques, and implementing those techniques into performance.

Darla Briganti will serve as theater coach.

"We are super excited to collaborate with Emerald Coast Theatre Company," said Seaside Neighborhood School Principal Kim Mixson. "This partnership means that middle-school students in Walton County now have a great opportunity to channel their interest and passion in drama."

The ECTC is currently rehearsing for "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" and launching their fifth season. The season opens Sept. 14 and closes the end of February.

For more information, visit www.emeraldcoasttheatre.org.