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Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School brought attendees of the 72nd Annual Tony Awards to tears Sunday, when they honored one of their teachers with a musical tribute.
Melody Herzfeld — the head of the drama department at the Parkland, Florida, institution which was the victim of a shooting that claimed 17 lives in February — received an award Sunday. However, her trophy was not given for an amazing performance, but a life-saving one.
“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 said in a tribute that honored the educator with a special award.
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. The students gathered on stage and sang “Seasons of Love” from “Rent.” With not a dry eye in the house — or on the stage — a soloist hit a high note, bring about a second standing o.
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 organized a nationwide movement against gun violence.
“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.