Royse City High School's success in University Interscholastic League one-act play competition ended at the area level, but the drama students' finale was performed in front of a hometown audience.
And the finale on April 21 in the high school auditorium was an emotional one.
The performance was followed by applause, cheers, a standing ovation, bouquets, picture-taking, hugs and even some tears.
The next day, Holly Stone, theater arts teacher, talked about the cast and crew of "Sending Down The Sparrows."
"I'm super proud of all the kids," she said. "I'm very happy that we went so far and that the story changed after every single performance. There was something different they wanted to add, things they wanted to work on. And that was the best part. The show kept living. It wasn't stale after just one performance."
The RCHS company advanced from zone to district, then to bi-district and area. Denison, Lindale and Hallsville advanced from area to regional, and Royse City was selected first alternate. The next level after regional is state.
Stone said a Royse City High School one-act play hasn't advanced this far in several years.
"We're excited," Stone said. "The kids were just happy to have gone so far and to represent Royse City."
A highlight, she added, is that the drama department at RCHS is still growing and "we're always changing and trying new things.
"Our goal this year was to try new things, to push ourselves just a little harder and to be a little bit better," she added. "I'm just really so proud of all the kids."
Stone said cast and crew members couldn't suppress their excitement as they advanced from one level to the next. The director said she told them to be excited, but to not jump up and celebrate too much. But they jumped up and celebrated, she said.
"They were so excited to advance they couldn't help but explode," she said. "Every single time, they would explode with happiness.
"And when they didn't advance, they accepted it very gracefully. That's a good sign of good kids."
The company earned many individual honors along the way.
Junior Michael Sherrell was selected to the all-star cast at all four levels. Annabel Buchanan, another junior, was selected to the all-star cast twice and named honorable mention twice.
Shealee Owen, a senior, made the all-star cast one time and honorable mention once. Bayley Owen, a sophomore, was named honorable mention twice.
Noah Welch, a sophomore, and Monica Dunn, a junior, were named honorable mention once.
Other cast members were Samuel Chase, Mary Edwards, Ashley White and Jamie Williams .
Crew members Taylore Mullins, Juliet Villegas and Shelby Doroshow received "tech awards" along the way. Other crew members were Christopher Velo, Alicya Hernandez, Noemi Rivera, Kyle Johnson, Michelle Hilson and Bailie Anderson.
Following is the publisher's comments of "Sending Down The Sparrows," written by Laura Lundgren Smith.
"This work of historical fiction bears witness to the systematic persecution and extermination of the handicapped by Nazi Germany through the character of Viktor, a young man who is a reluctant member of the Hitler Youth. Viktor has a secret; a mentally handicapped sister who is the ward of a state institution.
"Viktor soon finds himself caught between the Nazi ideologies of racial and genetic purity and the love of a sister for whom he feels shame. As the play unfolds, he must choose whether to continue protecting his secret himself or to come to the defense of his sister.