Usher Guide


Dear Usher:

Welcome to a new season of Olympia Junior Programs. Your School Representative and the Olympia Junior Programs Board thank you for volunteering as a theater usher. With your help, we can ensure a safe and pleasurable theater experience for the students from your child's school.

The enclosed information is designed to prepare you for the role of an usher. Please read it carefully before the performance and contact your Olympia Junior Programs School Representative if you have any questions.

Thank you and enjoy the performance.


The Olympia Junior Programs Board

Introduction to Olympia Junior Programs

The Olympia Junior Programs organization has been active in the Olympia community since 1944. It is a non-profit organization that is part of a national movement in children's theater. For more than 60 years, Olympia Junior Programs has worked in cooperation with area schools in providing performances during school hours for elementary students. Olympia Junior Programs is unique within children's theater organizations because it continues to operate as an all volunteer program.


The Purpose of Olympia Junior Programs is to present to the junior citizens of the community educational and entertaining programs in the fields of drama, music, science, and the interpretative arts, at as low a price as possible; to maintain the standards of such programs at the highest level; and to develop audiences who will continue to come and enjoy the finest cultural programs.

Who We Are

A non-profit organization of community volunteers doing the year-round behind-the-scenes work.

Whom We Serve

Elementary students in Thurston County and surrounding areas. Children under the age of five may not attend Olympia Junior Programs performances.


Plays are presented in the winter and spring. Each play runs for four to five days. Daily performances are at 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and last about one hour. Letters announcing the coming season's schedule are sent to school principals in October. Performance dates are scheduled with the Washington Center two years in advance.


Two performances are offered for grades 1-3 and two others for grades 3-6. Olympia Junior Programs contracts with professional production companies for specific plays about one year in advance. Productions are carefully selected for relevance to curriculum and appropriateness for the age of the audience. Works based on literature or history are often used. Companies chosen have demonstrated expertise with young audiences, and present a program that is technically more intricate than would be done for an assembly in a school setting.


The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 S. Washington Street, Olympia, WA.


Seats are priced at $5.00 for each performance that a student attends. Parent chaperones who sit with students must also pay $5.00. Admission fees are waived for teachers and volunteer ushers. Monies are collected at the school in accordance with its own policies. The school's Olympia Junior Programs School Representative may assist as requested. Olympia Junior Programs provides all the necessary support materials. Schools choose their method of payment by completing a form for the Olympia Junior Programs Treasurer.

Audience Age Policy

Children who attend Olympia Junior Programs performances MUST BE five years or older by September 1st of the current school year. Olympia Junior Programs is for elementary students; the performances are not open to the public. Guests, teachers, chaperones, ushers and homeschool parents are asked to respect this policy.

Homeschool Procedure

Homeschooling parents are welcome to purchase admission for themselves and their child(ren) who are at least five years of age by September 1st of the current school year. Reservations and payment must be made in advance, preferably with your homeschool group. Olympia Junior Programs recommends that students attend the plays appropriate to their grade level.


Schools are responsible for transportation and its expense. Some districts fund this as a matter of policy. Some schools use funds allocated to their building. PTA or other parent support groups may pay. Students may be assessed an additional charge. Parent carpools may be used. Parking for buses is generously provided by the Port of Olympia. The Olympia Junior Programs Bus Coordinator provides clear instructions and manages the schedule for the students' departure from the theater.

Education Materials and Evaluations

Educational materials are distributed to each teacher and school librarian to be used to prepare the students for each play. Teachers are provided with information about Olympia Junior Programs, and guidelines for student behavior expectations in the theater. Each teacher is encouraged to complete, on paper or online, an evaluation form regarding the performance.


Parent volunteers transport themselves to the Washington Center to assist the children from their school with getting on and off the buses, escorting them to their assigned seats, and observing or assisting during the play. Parent ushers remain standing throughout the play and may not bring other children with them. In accordance with Washington Center policy, ushers must be 18 years of age or older.

Policy on Photographs at the Theater

Only the Olympia Junior Programs Page Supervisor will take photographs of the Pages at the theater. It is the policy of both the Washington Center and Olympia Junior Programs that cameras are not allowed in the theater. Taking photos of any kind, including photos taken with a cell phone is NOT allowed in the theater. Taking pictures of the stage set is a form of copyright infringement.

School Usher Responsibilities


Please let your School Representative know as soon as possible if you will not be able to attend a performance so an alternate can be contacted. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Ushers should make alternate care arrangements for preschool children and not bring them to the Center.

Before the Performance

Performances begin at 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Please plan to arrive in the lobby at the Center 45 minutes prior to playtime (9:15 a.m. or 11:45 a.m.). This will allow you time to:

  1. Register
  2. Pin on school ID badge
  3. Check master seating chart for your school's area
  4. Meet the other ushers from your school and discuss division of duties
  5. Review the route you will use to your seats (doors/aisles)
  6. Receive instructions from the OJP Usher Chairman


When your school is assigned "Pages," it is the responsibility of the School Representative or a parent to drive the pages from school and deliver them to the Center 45 minutes prior to the performance (9:15 a.m. or 11:45 a.m.) The Olympia Junior Programs Page Supervisor will escort them to the dressing rooms where they will change into their costumes. She will give them instructions and take pictures of them in their costumes. After their performance on stage, a copy of the picture will be presented to each Page as a memento. The children serving as Pages are supervised at all times.

Because no cameras are allowed in the theater, it is the policy of Olympia Junior Programs that pictures will be taken only by the Olympia Junior Programs Supervisor.

One usher should be assigned to meet the Pages at the door of the stage after they have changed back into their school clothes. He/she should lead them to their designated seats in their school's seating area. Following the play, Pages return to school with their class on school transportation. Please be sure there are sufficient seats on the bus for them to ride back.

Unloading Buses

Two ushers will meet each bus from your school. The first usher will escort the students to their assigned seating. The second usher will remain by the bus door assisting students during the unloading process and then follow the end of the line to the seating area. DO NOT unload any buses until an Olympia Junior Programs official tells you to do so. Be sure students know their bus number. Olympia Junior Programs uses the number painted on the bus. Unload by bus load not by class. Lead students to their assigned seats and seat BACK TO FRONT, or as instructed. DO NOT ALLOW RUNNING. Sidewalks outside the Washington Center can be slippery. It is not always possible to usher the bus your child rides on to the Center.

If there are ribbons in your seating area to divide schools, advise teachers and students of the importance of leaving them in their original position.

After everyone from your school is seated, you may close the doors in your area. In following theater manners, students should remove hats and properly dispose of gum and candy.

During the Performance

Ushers must STAND throughout the performance. Ushers, along with teachers, are responsible for disciplining ANY child who is making a disturbance. A child who continues to misbehave should be taken to the lobby and his/her teacher notified. Ushers posted at the doors will be issued flashlights by the Head Usher.

If a student requests to use the restroom see if he/she can wait until the play ends. If not, accompany the student to the restroom and wait for him/her either in the restroom or just outside. PLEASE CLOSE THE THEATER DOORS QUIETLY. If the student does not come out in a reasonable amount of time find out why. Olympia Junior Programs is responsible for any damage that occurs in the restrooms or the theater.

If a student says he/she feels sick, remove him/her immediately. If an accident does occur in the seat, cleaning supplies are available at the registration table in the lobby. If a student is sick due to heights, ask an Olympia Junior Programs official to reseat the student on the main floor. An usher from your school must stay near the student. After the performance take the student to his/her bus. Please do not leave the student alone if seated away from his /her school.

After the Performance

Keep students quiet so dismissal announcements can be heard from the stage. Students may stand and stretch but should stay at their seats. When bus numbers (not route numbers) are called for your school, one usher is to lead the students to their bus and assist them in boarding. Other ushers may assist in the exiting process.

Before ushers go home they should check the area where their school was seated. Please check row by row, for gum on seat bottoms, candy and snack wrappers, and lost items to be returned to the school. Ushers might want to bring a plastic bag with them to aid in the cleanup.

Student Behavior Expectations

  1. Use the Restroom before leaving school.
  2. Leave all food, gum, and candy at school.
  3. Leave all hats, including baseball caps, at school or remove them immediately upon exiting the bus.
  4. Walk safely, in single file, from the bus to assigned seating area.
  5. Have shoestrings neatly tied to avoid accidents on stairs.
  6. Follow the ushers' directions.
  7. Sit with seats in down position.
  8. Keep feet off seat in front of you
  9. If your school is seated on one of the upper levels in front of the railing, do not lean over the railing or put your feet on it.
  10. Refrain from talking or whispering during the play.
  11. Clapping is the acceptable form of applause during the performance and after the play, when the actors come out on stage to bow.
  12. After your bus number (not route number) is announced from the stage, walk safely in single file, from your seating area to the bus
  13. Being patient while waiting for others to enter and exit the theater is part of a pleasant theater experience.

What to Expect

The play will last about 50 - 60 minutes. If the set or stage scenery is changed, it may be done in front of the audience, with the lights dimmed or with the curtains closed.

Actors in live theatre are real people and need to be given the respectful attention of the audience.

All of us at Olympia Junior Programs look forward to a great season at the Washington Center with you and your students! If you have questions, please do not hesitate to call your Olympia Junior Programs School Representative.

Emergency Procedures

In an emergency, Olympia Junior Programs personnel, ushers, teachers and students must follow the directions of the Washington Center House Manager and staff. In case of fire, everyone will be dismissed to congregate across the street at Sylvester Park. In case of an earthquake, everyone will remain in the theater until Washington Center staff determines that it is safe to leave.

Parking Options for Olympia Junior Programs' Volunteers

There is no specific parking lot for the Washington Center and parking nearby is limited. CARPOOLING IS RECOMMENDED.

Metered parking starts about 1½ blocks from the Washington Center. You should plan an about 2 hours and 15 minutes at the theater. For a map of parking in downtown Olympia, go to,

For information on parking options in downtown Olympia, go to

Olympia Junior Programs volunteers are responsible for parking fees at a meter or in a paid lot. Olympia Junior Programs cannot assume any liability for parking tickets received in the downtown area. See the enclosed map for further assistance with directions and parking options.

Inclement Weather:In case of inclement weather, please listen to KGY 1240 Radio Station for updated information about Olympia Junior Programs performances.