CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — After a controversy over the N-word, now comes a national honor for the cast of “Ragtime” at Cherry Hill High School East.

The show went on at Cherry Hill High School East, after a public dispute over the use of the N-word in the musical “Ragtime.”

Administrators wanted to remove the slur, but copyright laws prevented any changes in the script.

Debate Rages As NJ School Board Pulls N-Word From High School Musical

After Thursday’s performance, licensing agency Music Theatre International gave the cast its “Courage in Theater” award. MTI president Drew Cohen was impressed with how students advocated for themselves and the arts.

“Throughout it all, the students, who also participated in these discussions — and these are only high school students — were committed so strongly to following through on the plan to present the show,” Cohen said.

Teacher and show producer Tom Weaver appreciated the surprise honor, and he says the message conveyed is that words matter.

“My colleagues and I have brainstormed some ideas about how when this show closes, we still want to keep talking about what its message is all about,” Weaver said.

It was only the fourth time the Courage award was presented since its creation in 2007.

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