By MARCUS CONSTANTINO
for the Daily Telegraph
The Bluefield High School Band is taking a break from its busy schedule of practice and performances by spending its Memorial Day exploring the theme parks of Orlando.
Second-year band director David Wilson said the hype for the trip has been building for months and the students are enjoying a well-deserved break.
“They work all year round except two or three weeks a year,” Wilson said. “This is something to give them back for all the hard work they give to their school and community.”
The BHS Band goes on a trip to Florida every four years, but this year’s trip fell into limbo after more than $1,000 was robbed from the band’s concession stand at Mitchell Stadium in late October. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph launched a campaign to raise money for the band’s trip, and more than $2,500 was raised in just a month.
Wilson said the students are making life-long memories thanks to the community’s support.
“I’ve worked for five different high schools since I’ve been teaching, and I’ve never seen a community come together like that,” Wilson said. “It was really crazy, people calling me, letters being sent to the school, emails, Facebook messages with people saying, ‘We want to help, we want to help.’ The alumni just burst forth, and I’ve never seen that at the five schools I’ve been at.”
The band departed Bluefield on Thursday evening and arrived at the gates of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park Friday morning, about 14 hours later.
The wait was worth it for Brenna Johnson, a junior flag twirler. Brenna was overcome with emotion as she entered the park and saw Disney’s iconic Cinderella Castle up close and in person for the first time.
“My mom was always wanting to take us to Disney but she couldn’t afford it, so this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me,” Johnson said. “It was pretty great.”
Saturday, the students went to Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure, where they hit the roller coasters and strolled through the Hogwarts castle in the recently constructed Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Senior trumpet player Austin Tyree, one of the seven seniors in the Beaver Band, said his favorite moment of the trip so far was when he and his friends sprinted across the park to ride The Incredible Hulk roller coaster one last time before the park closed.
“We only had like 30 minutes to get in two rides and we definitely just hauled butt across the whole park,” Tyree laughed. “We definitely made it, but it was crazy.”
On Sunday, the band went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Monday, the students will spend some time at an area water park before returning to Bluefield.
Wilson said the members of the band are like a family, and the trip to Florida gives the kids a chance to relax together after a busy year of school.
“We get a vacation every four years,” Wilson said. “We work hard all year round, and every four years, we get a vacation.”
Wilson said 34 students went on this year’s trip.