This past Spring Break, while you were cleaning your garage or road tripping with your family, a team of over one hundred Allendale High School musicians traveled to Florida to bring music to the streets of Disney World.
The group left their familiar surroundings on Friday, March 29 and drove straight through to Orlando, arriving the next day. Mr. Bush noted what a joy it was for him to witness so many of his students taking pictures of Indianapolis and Louisville, cities much larger than some had ever seen. Mr. Bush kept his bus engaged by turning the intercom system into a Science trivia show about the plate tectonics of Kentucky.
“It was fun to see them notice there is much more to this world than life in Allendale — the Earth is big and it’s awesome!” said Mr. Bush.
In the planning stages for years, this trip occurs once every four years, a cycle that has been long-established in Allendale with the hopes that each student would have the opportunity to go once in their high school career. Band Director, Mr. Tony Bush, proud to continue the tradition, notes that Allendale boasts Disney trophies dating back to the 1980’s.
But getting to Orlando is not as easy as stepping on a bus: Mr. Bush and Ms. Verdonk first began the application process one year ago!
Disney officials require a daunting list of information for bands. Aside from requesting a list of all local parades the applicant has played in, theme park planners ask for a list of honors received, photos of uniforms, and videos of the band marching.
After receiving this packet of information, Disney coordinators convene to choose a parade best suited to the visiting band’s skill level. The best groups are assigned to evening parades in the Magic Kingdom which are the most high-profile. Mr. Bush was thrilled to hear this response from Florida:
“You’re the biggest and the best, that’s why you get to play in Magic Kingdom’s Electric Light Parade right before evening fireworks!”
With the help of fundraisers and the generosity of Allendale High School Band Boosters’ scholarships, students worked tirelessly to earn the $900 needed to make the journey. And while that may have been their biggest challenge, the concern weighing on the teachers’ minds was coordinating a safe trip.
“Anytime I have over fifty students taking a trip, I get a little anxious about making sure that everyone is getting my communications, understands the information, and stays safe. When you’re moving across several states, you depend on kids to behave. Luckily, we have perfect kids — they were great the whole time!” said Mr. Bush.
Performing in the Florida climate, even at night, proved tedious work. Students were sweating, working diligently, and concentrating on perfectly performing Louie Louie, Hey Baby, and the fall marching band tune, Magical Mystery Tour. Mr. Bush said that seeing the group backstage after the parade was his personal highlight:
“The kids were euphoric! They wanted to do it again — or at least return next year! They knew that all their hard work was worth it. Our kids truly shined!”
Congratulations to Mr. Bush, Ms. Verdonk, and all the students who made us proud in Orlando this spring! We applaud you!