"It was an experience I'll never forget, and I definitely see myself visiting again in the future," Mackenzie Karnosh, PHS junior, said of a recent educational trip. Students from the Phillips High School band, directed by Justin Lindgren, and choir, directed by Kyle Schliefe, departed on Tuesday, March 12th for a five day adventure which provided a whirlwind of activities in New York City.
Students slept on the motor coach and were able to start their adventure bright and early on March 13th with a ride on a ferry past the Statue of Liberty and had the ability to walk through the American Immigration Museum on Ellis Island, the very place that immigrants stood from 1892 to 1954 as they waited for their freedom. Andra Dischler, one of the chaperons, said that while they were on the second floor of the original part of the Ellis Island Museum, the PHS choir students sang "The Famine Song." The acoustics made for an extra beautiful rendition. Andra also shared her favorite parts of the trip, which were all the amazing cultural experiences, which made it difficult to choose just one. "I just loved getting the opportunity to take it all in!"
The next major stop of the first day was the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. The 16-acre site covers the area where the original Twin Towers stood, adorned with two enormous waterfalls and reflecting pools. According to Kelsey Lazar, a senior band student who plays the oboe and plans to go into the Air Force after graduation, "The most memorable part of being in New York was visiting the 9/11 Memorial. I found it to be the most touching place that we toured!"
Students were able to visit Chinatown and Little Italy before departing to their hotel. "Exploring such a diverse city opened my eyes to so many new things," said Olivia Bushman, PHS senior. "The New York trip was such an amazing experience. I'm so glad our Music Department gave our students this opportunity of a lifetime."
March 14th was filled with a city bus or walking tour, visiting Times Square, and an evening at the Rockefeller Center & the Top of the Rock. The Top of the Rock is said to be an entertaining and educational experience with a view of the Big Apple from the observation deck. Annikka Johnson, a senior band student who is the trumpet section leader and plans to attend Carroll University after graduation, said she had tons of favorite experiences on the trip, but Rockefeller Center at night was at the top of the list. "The city lights were breathtaking and seemed unreal from a bird's eye view. Along with the Rockefeller Center, simply walking down the sidewalks of Times Square was exhilarating because of the colorful buildings and signs everywhere."
Jenna Simurdiak, junior, who is an alto singer in choir and a trumpet player in band, agreed that the busy city experience was one to remember. "Looking up at all of the skyscrapers seemed surreal! We were definitely not in Phillips, Wisconsin anymore! My favorite part of New York would have to be going up to the observatory on top of the Rockefeller Center. Colorfully lit buildings were everywhere you looked! It was a wonderful experience, but there’s nothing like home!"
Day 3 in New York included a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "The MET." It is the largest art museum in the United States. The collection features over two millions works from Classical antiquity and ancient Egypt all the way to American modern art.
A walk in Central Park, Strawberry Fields, and Times Square concluded the afternoon. The Lincoln Center - David Geffen Hall was the final destination for the night. Students were able to attend a New York Philharmonic and Westminster Symphonic Choir Concert featuring the works of the composer, Mozart. Justin Polacek, a PHS junior who plays the trumpet in band said, "My favorite part was being able to see all the music and history in New York and being able to experience it for myself."
Rachel Callow, PHS sophomore, shared her appreciation for the experience. "I am so grateful for the opportunity to see some of the most amazing sights in the world. It's a trip I will never forget." Sally Schavey, chaperon, added, "NYC was a lot of fun, and a great experience for both students and chaperones."
The final day in New York included a trip to the Concord Market in Brooklyn, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and the ability to explore outside of Rockefeller Center in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. There, students were able to have a backstage tour of Radio City Music Hall. The guided tour included art deco masterpieces, the secrets of the Great Stage, a visit with a Rockette, and much more. Ella Teeters, a freshman in choir, said that her favorite part was this tour and knowing that she was in the exact spot where others, such as celebrities, had once been.
The final night in New York capped off with a live performance of "The Prom" at Longacre Theatre.
Alyssa Huffman, Sophomore, summed up the importance of the trip for our small town students. "Being able to experience New York and all the people there is something I am very grateful for. It was quite a shock for me, as I have only experienced small towns. This trip made me realize how big the world is."
Students returned to Phillips on Sunday, March 17th. PHS Choir Director, Kyle Schleife, remarked, "Our students represented Phillips High School with grace and respect in the Big Apple! The culture shock of an international city taught the students about tolerance and social justice. One of my favorite parts of the trip was able to bond with the students outside of the choral rehearsal space and get to know these amazing young adults that live in our community."
The band and choir directors wanted to extend appreciation to the chaperones, volunteer driver, school board of the School District of Phillips; Rick Morgan, superintendent; Colin Hoogland, 6-12 principal; and Kay Sue Belan & Stacy Arntsen, office personnel, for their support, which made this trip possible.
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