Students at Durant High School (DHS) received a special treat last month in honor of a fallen friend. The school’s drama students performed their spring show Durant the Musical during the school day to benefit a memorial fund for Grover Wills, a Durant student who passed away in April.
The show, an original, student-written musical, was scheduled for three performances, one of which conflicted with a candle light vigil planned for Wills who was shot and killed in Brandon days before.
“I knew the right call was to cancel our performance that evening,” said Drama Teacher Stephen Arment. “But taking away a performance from a high school drama student is one of the worst things that could happen. I really wanted to find a way to give them that performance back while honoring their classmate.”
Wills, who was 18 when he passed away, played football for Durant and was an active member of the student body. He was set to graduate with his class on May 22.
Written by seniors Addie Joy Mitchell, Taylyn Olney and Kenz Jones, Durant the Musical is set in the middle of a campus tour for incoming high school freshmen highlighting many of Durant’s most iconic spots.
“It takes you on a journey of our school and the many caring teachers and administrators who inhabit it,” said Michele McAnnally, president of Durant Drama Boosters. “The show includes many DHS teachers in the cast as well, who sing and dance.”
The school puts on a full length spring show every year with cast and crew dedicating hundreds of hours in just a few months to rehearsals and set production. But according to Arment, the fact that this is a student written show makes it unique.
“It is not easy for a teacher to relinquish control, especially a theater director,” said Arment.
Through the in-school performance and other fundraising efforts, thousands of dollars were raised for the Grover Wills Memorial Fund.
“Fundraising for Grover was a school-wide, collective effort,” said Arment. “He was a popular guy who touched a lot of people.”
For more information, contact Durant High School at 757-9075 or visit durant.mysdhc.org.