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Actors Jaden Piner (L) and Alex R. Hibbert (R) attend the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards press room on February 25, 2017 in Santa Monica, California.
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

After taking the Oscars stage Sunday night to accept the award for Best Picture alongside the rest of the Moonlight cast, seventh-graders Alex Hibbert and Jaden Piner returned to middle school Wednesday to resume their studies.

The pair — who played the youngest versions of Chiron and Kevin, respectively — both attend Norland Middle School near Liberty City, the Miami community where Moonlight is set. “It shows that Liberty City is not really a bad place and you can’t judge it by the news,” Hibbert told the Associated Press. “When you watch Moonlight, you find the beauty of Liberty City.”

Drama teacher Tanisha Cidel — who also had a role in the film as a school principal — said the boys’ success should encourage others to pursue their dreams. “I want the parents to understand that if your child has any talent or shows an interest in the arts, take it seriously,” she said.

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