By Kirk Starratt
Every bottle collected brings the students a little closer to a band tour experience they’ll no doubt remember for a lifetime.
Students from Central Kings High School in Cambridge involved in the band program, parents and other volunteers braved blustery winter conditions to hold a bottle drive in the parking lot of the Coldbrook Foodland on Jan. 5. This is one of several fundraising initiatives necessary to pay for the trip to New England coming up from March 29 to April 6, something that will no doubt be a rewarding educational experience and a lot of fun.
“It’s really exciting,” said Grade 10 student Isabelle Heptinstall of Berwick. “I think it’s what we look forward to the most each year.”
Heptinstall said the annual band tour usually goes to New Hampshire, but this year it will include Boston, Massachusetts. This will be the third year she’s gone on the trip. She enjoys playing at the various school venues included in the tour, but admits there’s an extra attraction for her: the shopping.
Heptinstall said there’s no sales tax in New Hampshire and there’s a retail outlet right beside the hotel where they’ll be staying.
This will be the second year for Grade 10 student Clayton Sawler of Lakeville. Sawler is looking forward to the performances and said it’s nice to go to a new place. This year, Sawler is particularly looking forward to taking in the symphony and visiting the aquarium in Boston.
“The scenery was great,” he said of last year’s journey through Mount Washington Valley.
Grade 10 student Gavin Brown of Coldbrook also went on the school band tour last year. He’s looking forward to getting out of the Valley for a little while to take in some different scenery while hanging out with his friends. Of course, Brown is also looking forward to the various musical performances involved.
“I enjoyed it so much last time I wanted to go again,” he said. “Going somewhere new is always fun.”
Central Kings Band Parents Association president Jay Verge said there will be 93 students from grades 7 to 12 going on the tour. The entire trip will cost $53,000 and they began fundraising at the beginning of the school year. It takes a lot of effort, he said, but the community fundraising will continue. The cost per student is $575 and this includes everything except spending money.
“Our goal is to make it affordable for everybody,” Verge said. He has been involved in the effort for 14 years as association president and said no student would be left behind due to financial constraints.
He said fundraising is a group effort, with all the money going into a general pot. They have several initiatives on the go, including bottle drives, raffles and a cash calendar.
The band students will be staying in North Conway for seven days, performing eight concerts at eight different schools and a public concert. The schools include elementary, middle and high schools. Verge said the students are given a day off in the midst of the performance tour.
“We put them through the paces, as if they were on an actual musical tour,” he said.
There are two performance groups, the jazz band and the concert band, and students must be in the concert band in order to participate in jazz. The concert group practices three times a week while the jazz group practices every day.
“They put a lot into it,” Verge said, pointing out the students perform musically at a university level in many instances.
For more information, visit www.centralkings.ednet.ns.ca and click on the “band” link.