Sunday’s Tony Award ceremonies featured several moving tributes to the students and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, the site of the Valentine’s Day school shooting that is changing the national conversation about gun control.* Students from the school’s drama department sang “Seasons of Love” during the main ceremony, and during the Creative Arts Awards, this year’s Excellence in Theatre Education Award was given to Melody Herzfeld, the head of the school’s theater department, who kept a group of students safe during the shooting. The television broadcast didn’t include her full speech, so here it is:
In her acceptance speech, Herzfeld stayed away from explicit political statements, besides the political statement inherent in being a school shooting survivor. Instead, she talked about the ways that arts education can help students deal with life’s quotidian tragedies as well as disasters like the Parkland shooting. “Imagine if arts were classes that were considered core, a core class in education,” Herzfeld said. That’s a standard plea from arts teachers at awards shows in our age of low taxes and the vicious generational neglect that pays for them, and wouldn’t have been out of place in a year with no mass shootings (so, 1979). But the close of Herzfeld’s speech alluded to the way her students have seized control of the debate since February. “Here we are,” she told the audience. “The future, changed for good.”
Correction, June 11, 2018: This post originally misspelled Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ first name.