ABBOTT, Texas — Abbott High School's theatre program is heading to the state championship in Austin for the 11th time as its longstanding director battles pancreatic cancer.
Travis Walker has led the department for 17 years. The beloved teacher received his stage four diagnosis the day the class left for the state competition in 2022.
"From that point on, God has taken control," Walker said.
This year, the class of 21 high school students will be performing "Treasure Island".
Walker has been able to keep up with the class and lead them to success despite his treatments. He said he has been able to keep going with minimal illness.
"I want to be up here every day — and I think that that positive mentality has helped greatly," Walker said.
His students and his school are rallying around him.
"We would just catch him and be there if he needed it," said senior Will Kazda.
One of his students happens to also be his son, Andrew Walker.
"I don't think I could've gotten over that by myself. I guess the people around me really helped me," he said of the support he received after his father's diagnosis.
A year of uncertainty has brought the class closer together. They describe themselves as a family.
"There are going to be some times where I'm gonna remember some things and go... 'Hm, sure hope that's not the last one,'" Walker said.
The crew will head to Austin on Wednesday and officially compete on Thursday evening.