Approximately four months after a school shooting devastated their community, a handful of theater kids from Parkland, Florida, took the stage at the 2018 Tony Awards, performing an emotional "Seasons of Love" from the musical "Rent."
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"Please join me in showing your love for the members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama department," actor Matt Morrison of "Glee," said as he welcomed the students to the Tony Awards stage Sunday evening.
Melody Herzfeld, the drama teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was honored at the award show with the "Excellence in Theatre Education Award."
In the wake of the tragedy that rocked her community when a gunman opened fire at the school on Valentine's Day, killing 17 people, Herzfeld helped her students to recover from the trauma through music, arts, and theater. She also supported the student's movements for gun reform that garnered nationwide attention.
Moreover, Herzfeld has been credited with saving the lives of dozens of students after she barricaded them into a small classroom closet amidst the shooting rampage, according to The Associated Press.
"We all have a common energy, we all want the same thing, we cannot deny it," Herzfeld said in her acceptance speech. "To be heard, to hit our mark, to tell our truth, to make a difference, and to be loyally respected. We teach this every day in every art class, imagine if arts were classes that were considered core, a core class in education? Imagine."
At the conclusion of her speech, the drama teacher said, "Thank you, Stoneman Douglas High School and my fellow Eagles."
"We have all known that the future of the world was about collaborative creativity," she added, "and here we are the future, changed for good, MSD strong."
Herzfeld joined the Marjory Stoneman Douglas faculty in 2003 and has produced over 50 productions during her time at the school.
With the Excellence in Theatre Education Award, Herzfeld will take home a $10,000 grant toward Marjory Stoneman Douglas' school theater program.