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Monday, May 21, 2018

Wyoming High School in “The Greatest City in the World”

One hundred and thirty-eight Wyoming High School Orchestra and Choir members packed up their instruments, loaded their busses, and headed east to New York City for the adventure of their lives on March 7. By the time of their return on March 11, every one of the students, chaperones, and teachers had a lifetime of stories to share. Orchestra director Laura Coomer asked six students to write about their experience, and we are happy to share their memories in their own words:

Times Square never sleeps – and neither did these boys, left to right, Max Randman, Sam Randman, Hayden Fischer, Michael Ford, and Gavin.
Ready for (Off) Broadway by Natalie Glover 
It’s not every day that you get the chance to travel to the Big Apple with your high school Orchestra and Choir, but since I was lucky enough to do so, I can tell you that it was quite an experience. Getting 130 high school kids around the bustling streets of New York is no easy task, but our tour guide Scott managed to do it. After twelve hours, we finally escaped the confines of the bus on Thursday, and we hit the ground running. At 3:30 p.m. we found ourselves at a Broadway workshop, run by dancers from Kinky Boots, which some of us would see on Saturday. As we started the vocal warm ups, it was clear where everyone stood. Choir kids were totally in their comfort zone, and orchestra kids had no idea what was going on. But as the workshop progressed, us orchestra kids slowly crawled out of shells, and by the end we were ready for Broadway (or maybe off Broadway). Either way, when Saturday night came around, those of us who went to Kinky Boots were ready to show off our skills during the final song, which we knew the words and dance moves to. And as we sang and danced, you couldn’t help but think, “This is amazing.” New York was filled with moments like this, where you stood there and thought, “This is so cool. When else would I get to do this?” I’m so thankful for the experience, and it gave me many stories for years to come. 

The students performed in the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, built in 1885.
Celebrity Encounters by Lydia Smith
The New York trip was a wonderful time. Now that I’m old enough to appreciate the sights and the culture, I could really get insight to what it’d be like to live in such a populous, momentous city. Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and the MET museum were among my favorite destinations, but every second was an adventure. New York City is a prime place for people watching! The final day also yielded the opportunity for me to walk by NBC news journalist Brian Williams in the hallway, so I can now put that on my list of celebrity encounters. The trip was well-organized by our advisors, who had worked very hard to ensure all of us were comfortable and having a good time. I’m not sure if I could ever live in a city that big, but experiencing so many elements of the urban environment in such a short period of time was a wonderful way to take a break from the pressures of school. This was my third major trip of the school year, but NYC was likely the most entertaining of the three. I am enticed to go back soon!

Wyoming students had a private Broadway workshop with the performers from Kinky Boots.
My Favorite New York by Katy Vanatsky
I loved how our guides gave us so many suggestions of what we should see at each stop, but we still had a lot of independence and the ability to explore the things that we were interested in at each stop. One of my favorite things we did was the tour of Radio City Music Hall. It was so pretty and so there were so many cool things to learn about it. Even though I’ve been to New York City a few times, this time was by far my favorite.

On the stairs of the iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art, these students took a moment to pose for the camera.
Dear Evan Hansen by Annie Elliott
As a student of the stage, I dream of Broadway. Of bright spotlights and flashing marquees. Of giving Tony speeches and getting new scripts. Seeing a “Best Musical” award winner in and of itself is an incredible experience, but Dear Evan Hansen is even more so. I saw a “sneak-peak” of the musical two years ago at Junior Theatre Festival and have been obsessed ever since. Sitting down in that theatre, it all felt so intimate. The story, although seeming implausible, connected every person in the audience to the stage. We’ve all felt forgotten, unheard, and less-than at some point in our lives and this incredible story shows us that “we are not alone”. That’s what real art does. It causes emotion and creates feelings. It connects us to everyone else in the audience. It gives us a reason to come back.

First stop in Manhattan after a 14-hour bus ride was Rockefeller Center.
The City (and students) that Never Sleep(s) by Sara Morehous
Driving away from the High School on Wednesday, March 7 feels like a distant dream now, but at the time I was beyond ecstatic to visit my favorite city, the city that never sleeps, New York, New York. With early mornings, full days of walking around the city with no less than 140 people, and late nights scrambling to figure out the next math problem, the city that never sleeps could not have fit the picture of this trip more accurately. We saw every single stop for which New York City is known, even if that meant watching from the bus. Personally, my favorite moment was the first morning we arrived in the city, and all of us were so hungry, tired, and irritable. One of my closest friends that knows New York City directed us towards Ellen’s Stardust Diner, where all of the waiters and waitresses stand on the tables and sing different songs while you eat. We ate enough to satisfy ourselves for a while. In addition to touring every corner of Manhattan, I performed with the orchestra in a local cathedral. Despite the setup and the acoustics being very different than anything we had expected, I loved being able to leave Wyoming and reconvene all together in New York City for a concert. Leaving this city and all the memories behind was the most difficult thing I have faced in a while, but I look forward to flipping through all the pictures that were taken and remembering each individual moment as if they were yesterday. 

Teacher chaperones Lynn Denney (left) and Danica White (right) were excited to see former WHS student, and current New Yorker, Lauren Kent at the student performance.
New York City of My Dreams by Paige Peacock
New York City. A place I've always dreamt of visiting since I was a toddler singing "N.Y.C." from "Annie". There is no way to truly capture its beauty. I've seen pictures, yet none of them amounted to the actual experience. Times Square was just as buzzing and bright as I had imagined. The 9/11 Memorial was an emotionally life-changing experience. But by far the most impactful part of the trip was seeing Kinky Boots. There's something about seeing a show on Broadway that is just absolutely magical. My eyes filled with tears watching the closing number, dancing and singing to the song we had been taught by a member of the show the day before. I am so grateful to have had this wonderful experience, and I feel like this was my first of many trips to this amazing city.

The Wyoming High School Choir and Orchestra stormed Times Square. 
The Wyoming group attended the New York Pops performance at Carnegie Hall. Backstage Wyoming Choir Director, Brian Potts, met Steven Reineke, New York Pops Director and Conductor.

The fountain was filled with a light dusting of snow, but Central Park was still a sight to see with Emma Savage and Cate Hummel.

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