BOCA RATON, Fla. - While 8th grader Alyssa Blakeney was on stage as Dorothy during the King's Academy's performance of the Wizard of. Oz, even while she was being swept away - held in the air by ropes during a "tornado," - Alex Brooks was only a heel click away.
"Everytime I sing somewhere over the rainbow, I think of her," said Blakeney. "It's kind of cool to think that she is over the rainbow now. You can think of her while you're singing and it is really cool to picture."
But when the Munchkins came out, of whom Brooks was supposed to be one of, Blakeney had to fight her emotions to stay in character.
"There was so many times we all wanted to cry. She was a joy to everyone and she was really talented and always smiling."
In the month since Brooks's death at the hands of her own mother, the kids have worked to stay together, says the "Tin Man" Graham Popadic.
The play was potion.
"After that, we really were a wreck. We took a little break and got back together," said Popadic.
The end was dedicated to Brooks. A finale that her classmates hope did her justice.
Her short life taught them a lesson that's hard to learn any other way.
"It made us kind of reevaluate things and make us think that our time here is limited," said Blakeney. "You don't really know. It made us cherish every moment we have together."
Some of the proceeds for the show will go towards a scholarship fund created in her honor.