Local high school wins NBC R.I.S.E America Grant

The cast of Scecina Memorial High School's practices their upcoming production of "In the Heights."

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — NBC's new show "Rise" debuts tonight, and you can bet it will be a popular show at Scecina Memorial High School. That's because the school's theater department was awarded a $10,000 grant from the show.

The sign out front at Scecina High School says "discover opportunities." That is exactly what the theater department at the school is all about. Inside, the cast of the show "In the Heights" is busy practicing.

"The adrenaline rush on the stage is an amazing feeling," the show's female lead, Monica Higgins, explained.

"I really like the fact that I can portray someone else's story without telling my own," DeChelle Turner, another senior added.

"Looking at things outside of your perspective ... I think in the world we are living in you need to see more than your own perspective," the male lead, senior Kerrington Shorter, said.

"They have a lot of challenges in their daily lives, then they get to come and spend two hours with me in the evening, and I get to watch them shine," Leslie Young the theater director noted.

So imagine everyone's surprise when they learned Young had nominated the program for a $10,000 R.I.S.E America Grant, and the entry was one of 50 selected out of 1,000 entries.

"I was sitting by myself in the car, and I actually had to pinch myself because I could not believe it," Young remembered.

"We don't usually get that much funding for this program, so to hear we got $10,000 for it is kind of crazy," senior Nathan Christopher said.

"Just shows her initiative. I think she does a great job with the limited resources that we do have," senior Cobie Dillard who is acting in his first show explained.

The cast is planning to watch NBC's new show at a viewing party tonight at the school.

"Theater kids get together, and they are just making it their high school and exploring their passion for theater," senior Isabelle Leffler answered after she was asked what "Rise" was all about.

The show is about a small town high school theater shaken up when a new teacher takes over.

That teacher is played by "How I Met Your Mother" alum Josh Radnor.

"They're about real people going through real stuff. They're complicated. There's no villains and good guys. It's just people. It's dimensional and it's about people rising to the occasion of the lives and becoming their best selves" Radnor explained.

It's a topic these kids are very familiar with because they are living it.

"Being a part of the musical is kind of like really fun to be a part of," junior Kimberly Guerrero said.

"Just being able to do something different, being able to come together with new people, getting to know them better ..." Jose Flores, another senior continued.

"Being a part of the theater program really has let me step out of my comfort zone," Junior Araceli Rubalcava noted.

It's all about discovering opportunities.

Scecina's production of Lin-Manuel Miranda's "In the Heights" is scheduled to run at 7 p.m. on March 23 and and March 24.

"Rise" comes from the same creator of TV shows as "Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood." It airs Tuesday, March 13 after "This Is Us."