Their hearts are heavy, but they will never forget the memory of drama teacher Daron Hawkins.
"He is going to be in my heart, and he's going to influence my life for the rest of it," said Riverview senior Hannah Rush.
He is the only drama teacher many at Riverview High have ever known, and he demanded perfection.
"You want to say that somebody gave it all. He gave it all, plus some. Those students were his life," said principal Bob Heilmann.
This was Mr.Hawkin's 16th year of teaching at Riverview.
But as director of Florida State Thespians, his influence was felt across the state and on the stage at Riverview where, to his students, he was the heart of the school.
"If we were sad, he'll make us feel better. There were no sad moments in this theater ever," said student Tre' Wilkerson.
Hawkins, who was 38, battled a long illness. Senior Grant Parker said he always made time for his students.
"He said that he loved us, and that was the reason he could always fight through the sicknesses, because he did love us and he wanted to see us in all these shows that he loved," Parker said.
Hawkin's director chair sits empty now. But his contagious spirit fills the stage and the hearts of his students.
"There is never going to be another teacher like Mr.Hawkins, here or anywhere else -- he was one of a kind," Parker said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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