MOUNT ENTERPRISE, Texas (KTRE) - Tuesday marks one month since deadly tornadoes ripped through Cherokee, Panola and Rusk counties.
The town of Mount Enterprise took a direct hit. Now, students at the school there are letting their light shine through despite the dark times they’ve faced.
Oscar Wilde once said, “It was only in the theatre that I lived. It’s a mantra 30 students at Mount Enterprise ISD live by with their rendition of The Old Man and The Moon.
Their one act play, among other extracurricular activities, qualified for this year’s UIL State Competition.
“I was really proud and felt like we accomplished something really cool,” junior Hannah Everett said. .
“I feel like this role was made for me like I was created to be here and to represent the school,” junior Gabriel Moreno said. “I feel like it’s an honor to represent the school.”
“I felt like we deserved it but to be actually like shown like ‘hey, we see you,’ meant everything,” junior Autumn Stewart said.
But the road to get there wasn’t easy. Like their play about how the moon got its phases, sometimes the phases of life dim before a full moon tries to shine.
“It’s been kind of one challenge after another,” theatre arts teacher Kimberly Fryman said.
Fryman said COVID-19, wild weather and personal struggles have impacted many at the Mount.
“Everything was kind of uncharted territory, even from last year,” Fryman said.
And this year, even more tragedies.
“We had a student lost her mother right before our bi-district contest,” Fryman said
“A week after that, he was gone,” Stewart said.
Last month, Stewart lost her brother Caden to cancer, a disease that’s affected not just her brother, but her mother and herself.
“We have this genetic thing that basically puts us at this position where we get cancer,” Stewart explained. “And we already have a high risk, but after we get cancer, we will continue. It’ll never end for us until it ends for us.”
Days after his diagnosis, a tornado ripped through town, leaving a hole in junior Hannah Everett’s house.
“My dad sent a picture of the kitchen and that’s when it hit me,” Everett said. “I just started bawling. I couldn’t even breathe. It was very traumatizing.”
Despite it all, these students say theatre became a welcome escape for them.
“I was no long Autumn,” Stewart said. “I no longer had cancer. I wasn’t sick. Neither was my family. I’ve felt so many things throughout my entire lifetime. It’s easy for me to do that and use all those emotions to express myself on stage because I don’t do it so well off of stage.”
We’ve been hit by a pandemic, a snowstorm, a tornado,” Everett said. “We’ve been hit by all these different disasters and we still make it to State. It just kind of feels like there’s nothing that can be thrown at us that can hold us down.”
“I’m so proud of them,” Fryman said.
The students will compete at the UIL State One Act Play Competition this Thursday.