McALLEN -- Hundreds of Rio Grande Valley high school theater students gathered at the McAllen Performing Arts Center for The Palms: Hidalgo County High School Theatre Awards Ceremony.

In a Tony awards-type set up, the formally dressed teenagers walked through a stretch of bright red carpet and were met with professional photographers. This is the second year they’ve been given this type of recognition.

Micah Bland, the choir director at Nikki Rowe High School said he’s glad his students have a platform to be recognized for their hard work.

“They’re enjoying it,” he said, rounding up the roughly 25 students his theatre program brought. This year, they put on the musical, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” by Jeanine Tesori.

Putting the show together is a year-long affair, Bland said. By May, they’re already deciding what play they’ll put together the next school year and by October rehearsals have already begun.

Saturday, after their red carpet experience, they performed this year’s musical for the last time.

“We’re really enjoying put on the show for one final performance,” Bland said. “We feel really confident.”

For one of Bland’s students, Collin Smith, it will be the last time he performs in a high school theatre production.

The 18-year-old played the main male role of this play and hopes to continue his career by studying music at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. There, he hopes to keep auditioning for shows locally and continue “trying to make it.”

Though, it’s not often that theatre gets recognized in the way he feels is fit, he said, so events like Saturday are a special treat for him and his classmates.

“This has been really fun; I like taking the pictures… I just like the experience,” Smith said. “I think it’s a huge step forward for the Valley to have events like this. It’s like the big cities now.”