Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, brought attendees of the 72nd Annual Tony Awards to tears Sunday with a stirring performance of “Seasons of Love” from “Rent.”
Melody Herzfeld, the head of the drama department at the school that was the site of a mass shooting that claimed 17 lives in February — was honored at with a special award during the ceremony celebrating the best of Broadway theater.
However, her award was not given for an amazing performance, but a life-saving one in shielding dozens of students in her classroom during the massacre.
“Melody, for your dedication to the arts and the tremendous love for the young people in your care, we — all of us — thank you,” Ming-Na Wen (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) said in a tribute to the teacher who received the Excellence in Theatre Education Award.
Nearly five months after tragedy struck their school, drama students from Parkland, Florida, took to the Tony’s stage with an emotional rendition of “Seasons of Love.” https://t.co/sAwQVVlwZL pic.twitter.com/wJEEWaIACn
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 11, 2018
Former “Glee” star Matthew Morrison then took the stage and introduced the students from the Parkland high school, prompting the audience to stand and cheer.
With not a dry eye in the house — or on the stage — a female soloist hit a high note, bringing about a second standing ovation.
Herzfeld saved 65 lives during the school shooting on Valentine’s Day by barricading students in a classroom to protect them from a former student who went on a killing spree. She also supported the teens as they sought to process their experience through artistic expression.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Herzfeld told The Associated Press. “But I hope that this award will remind everyone of how vital and important arts education is to our kids. Drama, music, art, creative writing — that’s how you make good citizens.”
The award is given annually by the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University to U.S. educators teaching kindergarten through 12th grade who have “demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession.”
The honor comes with a $10,000 prize and two tickets to the Tony ceremony and gala.
Herzfeld was selected by a panel of judges comprised of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon and other leaders from the theater industry.