Planning a summer vacation? If your trip can meet only just a part of the New York City experience of 65 combined members of the South Tama High School Marching Band and the Concert Choir it could be what students and chaparones termed their "trip of a lifetime."
Band director Mike Carnahan and vocal music teacher Chris McFate led the group, accompanied by 18 adult chaparones, on the seven-day bus trip from June 9-16. The $105,000 cost was paid from by a four-year fund-raising effort, private donations and local business and private support.
While leading these 65 high school age students in the United States' largest city on tour and performing may seem daunting, chaperones Darcy Lamb, Janice Upah and Carnahan came away with high praise for the young people. "There were no discipline issues at all" Carnahan said.
The South Tama High School Marching Band is shown performing on the flight deck of the USS Intrepid during their June visit to New York City along with the?South Tama High Concert Choir. Photo/Mike Carnahan
Lamb credited the great amount of work in developing and carrying out the trip and its success to Mary Jo Cherveny and Janice Upah, who head up the South Tama Music Boosters, along with McFate and Carnahan.
Students Destiny Cherveny and Lisa Morrow joined with the trio of adults to recount highlights of the trip in an interview with The Chronicle on June 20. They all admitted they might still be trying to catch up on a little sleep as the result of the days filled with activities.
Carnahan, however, said the trip definitely met his goal to be slow enough so students could "enjoy the activities and opportunities."
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"Awesome" to "Not a dry eye in the house" were just a sampling of the descriptions of the reactions to the events and locations along the way, the students used.
"It was amazing from beginning to end. When you get the opportunity to see a Broadway hit, to meet the performers who were on stage," Lamb said.
Keeping track of students was made a lot easier by "color coding" their daily wearing apparel, Upah and Lamb said.
Each day the students wore custom-imprinted shirts of the same color created by Ultimate Image in Toledo and designed by John Campbell and Carnahan.
This made them "stand-out" in a crowd and brought lots of compliments from others they said. It also eased some of the concerns of the adults in "turning loose the students in New York City" Carnahan said. They were given free time to shop and sight-see a bit on their own.
Here's a brief account of some of the tour highlights:
After an all-night bus ride from Tama to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio, rain and more rain greeted the group. The Marching Band did march and perform a short time during a rain storm. Known as the top place for roller coasters, skies cleared and rides were enjoyed.
After an overnight stop at a Cleveland, Ohio, hotel, it was Times Square in New York City late Tuesday afternoon. The view from the Rockefeller Center "Top of the Rock" was a real hit.
On Wednesday, a harbor cruise took them by the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Brooklyn Bridge. It was agreed their visit to St. Paul's Chapel and the National 911 Memorial was" inspiring" for the resilience of the city and county to come back following the attacks.
Wednesday night was time for the Blue Man Group in an "off-Broadway" performance. This came with several special moments: head of set construction for the Blue Man Group, William (Chip) Gudger, a 1988 South Tama High School graduate, met with them; the students had a private session with Blue Man Group members; STC student Robert Tyynismaa happened to be sitting in the "lucky" seat and was called on stage to join with the Blue Man Group during the performance. Carnahan said they learned "On" and "Off" Broadway referred to the size of the theatre - all are "on Broadway" literally.
Thursday started off with a 90-minute long workshop in musical theatre song and movement at Dany Studios. They next boarded the USS Intrepid on which the Marching Band performed. In the evening it was "Wicked" On Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre for which the students had greater appreciation having learned form the cast some of what it took to be in such a production.
Friday was the Chinatown visit in which students were "on their own." Destiny Cherveny said this was even a bit educational, particularly during their shopping the "shopping adventures." Students and chaperones had been coached in the art of "haggling" over price by their tour guides.
Cherveny said she and others were able to save money. It seems Mr. Carnahan was the "victim" here as his disagreement over paying sales tax once a price was settled upon got him ordered out of a woman's shop. Next, it was on to the Bowery Mission. It was agreed the visit and Concert Choir performance there really brought a message to the group. They said 800 homeless are fed and provided services at the mission daily. A tour of the Lincoln Center in the afternoon and sightseeing rounded out the day.
On Saturday the Concert Choir performed at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine which was described as being the two football fields in length. Despite the size, chaperones Lamb and Upah said the choir's volume carried to the back of the cathedral. Perhaps seeing what was discovered to be the small size of the Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Fallon sets at NBC Studios was mentioned most of the tour there. On Saturday night, dinner at Ellen's Star dust Diner with its party atmosphere capped off the New York City visit.
Here's the only trip tolls mentioned- lost- three cell phones, one Ipad and one camera.