ORLANDO, Fla. —
The Bluefield Beaver Band's first day at Disney World has been a long one. It took more than 14 hours for the students to get from Bluefield High's parking lot to the gates of Walt Disney World, but their spirits couldn't be hampered by a long bus ride, or a downpour of rain as the bus left the high school, or the miserable conditions of trying to sleep on a bus. The band students know all too well their trip was in jeopardy late last year after about $1,000 was robbed from their Mitchell Stadium concession stand. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph launched a campaign soon afterwards that raised more than $2,500 for the band and put its trip back on track. Because of the community's generosity, I was able to witness one young girl's dreams come true. Brenna Johnson, an 11th grade flag twirler for the band, was overcome with emotion as the Disney monorail the band was riding got closer and closer to Disney's icon and flagship attraction, the Cinderella Castle. Seeing the castle in person was a magical moment for her, as it was for all the students on what would have otherwise been a normal school day. The time of day was often compared with what block they would be in at school, what class they would be in or what teacher they would be listening to. The experiences the kinds are getting to have and the lifelong memories they are getting to make together are far more valuable than a day in the classroom, though. The students will spend their Memorial Day weekend hopping around other Disney parks before returning back to Bluefield on Tuesday. After a full year of practices, performances and concerts, this is a well-deserved weekend away from the band room.