Merely months after a devastating shooting left 17 students and faculty members dead, and many others injured, drama students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took to the Tony's stage with an emotional rendition of Rent's iconic "Seasons of Love." As you'd probably imagine, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
The surprise performance came after their drama teacher, Melody Herzfeld, was awarded the Excellence in Theatre Education Award. Each year, the honor goes to one influential educator and includes a $10,000 award for the school's theater program. Herzfeld, who saved the lives of over 60 students during the Parkland school shooting by barricading them in her classroom, is well deserving.
"To be a teacher —who might’ve aspired to do something like this at one point in her life and found her true calling in producing and working with children, especially in high school — to have any significant light shed on that is really, deeply meaningful," Herzfeld told TIME ahead of the Tony Awards.
In celebration of their teacher's win, Parkland students took to the stage to perform "Seasons of Love," a breathtaking tribute to the power of strength, resilience, and most importantly, love. It was heartbreakingly beautiful, unbelievably inspiring, and will 100% move you to tears. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Don't worry, everyone else cried too. Celebrity audience members and Twitter users alike were extremely moved by the emotional ballad.
Some pointed out just how poignant the song choice was, saying it "couldn't be more fitting."
Even those who aren't typical theater-goers recognize this iconic song from Rent. It's a song meant to make you feel all the things. And the Parkland students, who have survived so much and used their voices in the most inspiring way, definitely brought out all of those feelings.
They also managed to add even more depth to an already powerful message: how do you measure the value of a year in a human life? In love. So much love.