By Beth Atkinson for the Eastern Graphic
After almost two years of fundraising Montague High student Jessica MacLeod realized her goal of raising $3,000 (just shy of $80) to travel with her school’s choir to perform on stage in front of an international audience at Disney World.
Other choir members put out equal effort to make the trip possible. The 11 member choir, made up of students in both Grades 11 and 12, are under the tutelage of director Christie Beck.
As in previous years Ms Beck was the driving force behind numerous school performances, grocery-bagging fundraisers and other initiatives that would see the group raise funds for the prestigious travel event to Orlando, Florida.
The delegation travelled on their March Break for the week-long adventure, which is part of the a national Disney Youth Performing Arts program.
Fundraising is a collective effort which Ms Beck says helps ease the financial burden on the students.
“It’s expensive but we want to give the opportunity to everyone,” she said.
This was the school’s fourth Disney performance since 2012.
“It’s hard to beat because it’s such an amazing opportunity,” she added.
While there the students had the opportunity of meeting with a team of Disney performers including professional singers, a recording engineer and a pianist at Epcot Theme Park. The team worked with the choir in their performance of two popular songs from the musical fantasy film Frozen: Love is an Open Door and First Time in Forever.
During the week the Montague choir also performed Enchanted Medley and Disney Dazzle.
Jessica said 50 or so people at a time would stop and listen to the choir as they made a late night presentation on the open-air stage.
Besides fundraising prior to the trip choir members and Ms Beck put a significant amount of time into practicing the songs. In fact they began rehearsing last September.
As far as the song choice is concerned Ms Beck said they reflect on the group’s strengths.
“I wanted songs that would put a smile on everyone’s faces,” she said.
You’d imagine in a massive park such as Disney the audience would be made up of a sea of nameless faces.
But not so, according to Ms Beck who said, “Oddly enough there’s about a dozen familiar faces,” who come back to hear the choir.
Not all of the choir member’s families were able to travel with the students but Jessica’s parents, Joani and Darren, were there along with her sister Emma.
Jessica said it was amazing to have them there for the performance.
How often do parents get to say they saw their kid perform on stage at Disney?” she mused.
A video was made of their performance but will only be available to the students and won’t be public.
Among other highlights of the week was watching fireworks fill the sky over the Magic Kingdom after the students left the stage.
That was when Jessica realized all of her efforts for the past two years were well worth it.
“We were all just standing there waiting for them to start and we realized we were there …. we had done it.”
For the remainder of the week the students joined the thousands of other tourists in visiting the Universal theme parks.
Being part of a team can be a real bonding experience and Jessica summed it up: “They aren’t just a choir, they are also my friends.”
“There are so many memories that have been made from this trip.”