By Travis Mounts
CONWAY SPRINGS – Musicians at Conway Springs High School spent last week’s spring break in Florida, mixing in a lot of fun with a pair of performances at one of the Universal parks.
The trip was originally planned for 2020, but was cancelled at the last moment as the country shut down at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The CSHS band and choir each had a performance on the central stage at Universal CityWalk in Orlando.
“The kids represented Conway Springs really well through their actions and their performances,” said director Dennis Kerr. There were 39 students and 10 sponsors on this tour. “The whole premise of the trip is to perform for a crowd that normally wouldn’t see us. We want to take the name ‘Conway Springs, Kansas’ to other places.”
The trip normally happens every four years. The trip serves as a reward for four years of hard work in band and choir. This year’s agenda included trips to two different Universal parks, to Sea World and a day on the beach. For a number of students, the trip gives students their first chances to fly on an airplane or to see the ocean.
The trip to the ocean ended with students seeing a fisherman reel in a 4-foot-long shark out of the waters they had just been playing in.
“That was kind of an eye-opener. I’m glad that came after,” Kerr said with a laugh.
Because of last year’s postponement, the band and choir worked to include last year’s seniors, who had not been on the Florida trip. Unfortunately, many of their colleges did not have spring breaks, and so only one of last year’s seniors was able to attend.
Kerr said everything felt very safe on the trip.
“All of the parks were doing a decent job with social distancing. They were very strict with masks and hand sanitizer,” he said.
Students raised money for the trip with a mattress sale, candy bar sales, a Tupperware sale and other individual efforts. At least two students were able to fund their entire trips through their fundraising.
Kerr told the students this would be his last Florida trip. If things stay on schedule, the next trip would likely be in 2025. Kerr said he is looking to retire following the 2021-22 school year.
To show how far things have come since the first trip in 2000, there were two students on this trip whose parents were on the very first trip with Kerr. Melainy Kennard was one of those students, and her mom – who was on the Florida trip in 2000 – went this year as a sponsor.