Steve Bayless Undergraduate Scholarship

About the Scholarship

The Steve Bayless Undergraduate Scholarship is designated for a high school student on entering a college or university in the SETC region to major in theatre.

In 2019, the SETC Board of Directors voted unanimously to name the SETC Undergraduate Scholarship in honor of Steve Bayless, who passed away that summer. As a junior high and high school music teacher for over 35 years, Steve touched the lives of thousands of students – sharing not just his appreciation for music and theatre but also the values of hard work, confidence, respect, diversity and caring for others. Steve served on the SETC Board and received SETC’s Suzanne M. Davis Memorial Award. Most recently, Steve was the executive director of the Florida Theatre Conference.

Application Period
January – April 15th

  • Applications Accepted: January 1 – April 15 @ 11:59pm
  • Application Reviews / Candidate Interviews: April – June
  • Winning Scholar Announced on SETC Website and Social Media Platforms
  • Scholarship Funds Available: Upon Proof of Matriculation, Upcoming Academic Year
  • Winning Scholar Attends Upcoming SETC Convention
  • $2,000
  • Free one-year SETC student membership
  • Free registration for the upcoming SETC Convention
  • Photo and bio recognition on the SETC website and social media platforms

Candidates must meet each of these qualifications to be eligible for this award:

  • You must be a current high school senior in the SETC region*
  • You must be planning to attend an accredited program of theatre studies in the SETC region* during the upcoming academic year.

* The SETC region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

  • Personal letter outlining plans and objectives for theatre study
  • Complete theatre resume
  • Three (3) letters of reference, one (1) of which must be from a high school principal addressing the applicant’s talent and potential for academic success as a theatre major
  • Complete, current transcript including GPA, class rank, and SAT or ACT scores

Questions about submitting application materials should be sent to

Previous Scholarship Recipients

This award was previously known as the Secondary School Scholarship and has incorporated funding from the former Polly Holliday Scholarship.

Peyton Walton (she/her) is a performer and student leader from Boone, NC who plans to further her studies in the performing arts at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. A veteran to the stage, she is excited to pursue a B.F.A. in Dance Choreography and Performance as well as a B.A. in Drama. As a graduate of Watauga High School and 3-year member of the Watauga High School Honors Acting Troupe, Pioneer Playmakers, she participated in many theatre productions, musicals, and class performances under the guidance of directors Sarah Miller and Zach Walker who have provided her with a strong foundation and have been an integral part of teaching her what it means to work “with and for” others. She attended North Carolina Governor’s School East for dance and realized how much she loves to create concepts and blocking for the stage and was able to further explore this interest by creating and blocking material for her troupe’s devised piece for NCTC, Acts of Love. She has also participated in numerous productions with Beanstalk Community Theatre, Next Generation Kids, and is an alumnus of Southeastern Summer Theatre Institute.  Aside from dancing and acting, Peyton is an avid escape-room enthusiast, enjoys singing and playing the piano, and spending time with her friends!

Casey Butler has appeared on Broadway as George Llewelyn Davies in the musical Finding Neverland and in a number of regional productions including Westside Story as Baby John and as Elmer in Newsies! at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. Other regional credits include Billy Ray, Jr. in On Golden Pond, Gus/Augustus in Arcadia, and Tom of Warwick in Camelot at Palm Beach Dramaworks, a role he reprised on the national tour. With the help of the SETC Steve Bayless Undergraduate Scholarship, Casey will continue his training in Musical Theatre at the Shenandoah Conservatory at Shenandoah University.

Knight Headshot - Bayless 20-21

Alice McCracken Knight

Alice McCracken Knight is from Boone, North Carolina. She will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in Dramatic Art with a probable double major in Women’s and Gender Studies. Always a creative spirit, Alice’s passion for theatre performance was sparked at age five and has grown ever since. She is an alumnus of Watauga High School, and has also attended the UNC School of the Arts Drama Summer Intensive and the North Carolina Governor’s School West for theatre. Alice cannot wait to continue her artistic growth and study of theatre at the collegiate level, where she hopes to further explore and create experimental and physical theatre. She credits much of who she is today to the mentorship of her high school theatre educators, Sarah Miller and Zach Walker. Alice spends much of her free time outside hiking or skiing, and she also loves to sing, write, and learn about the intersections of art and social justice.

Leah Eichhorn headshot

Leah Eichhorn

A life-long homeschool student, Leah Eichhorn will be entering her freshman year at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she will pursue a double major in Theatre and Arts Administration. Having been involved with theatre since she was seven years old, Leah has worked in many aspects of drama from performing to costuming, but her passion lies in stage management. She has stage managed several plays in the North Carolina Triad area, including four productions from Shared Radiance Performing Arts Company. For the past four years, she has attended the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp, where she has developed a deep passion for the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Having studied numerous forms of martial arts for the past 14 years, Leah holds a black belt in American Kenpo. In her spare time she enjoys playing music (guitar, bass guitar, and drums), drawing, and writing short stories.


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