by Howard Clemens
Linnea Dickson is the Vocal Music Instructor for Lovell High School and Middle School in Wyoming. “In our town there is limited cultural opportunity or variety. There are hardly any minorities in Lovell, just a few Hispanic children,’ she commented. So for the past 25 years, Dickson has been taking her Swing Choir and Choir groups to New York City and Hawaii. She varies the trip between these two far-flung locations because some middle school children attend two trips by the time they are in high school. This variation of destinations allows flexibility with the performance venues selected and the students are enriched by exposure to new places.
Every two years students from Lovell visit Hawaii. Student groups visit New York City about once every four years.
In New York City, students have performed at Carnegie Hall, the Statue of Liberty, the 911 Memorial and the United Nations building. “Student swing choir groups have even performed on church steps in New York City,” says Dickson. “We always have people stop and video tape and photograph their performance. And the children think it’s really cool that someone out in the world is watching them perform,” she added.
In New York City, student travel groups have a tight schedule that keeps them on the move. Still, they make time to attend as many as three Broadway plays. Visiting Broadway is an extraordinary event for any student of the performing arts. “This gives them a great chance to aspire to a performance career,” says Dickson. “We have seen Broadway musicals like: Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Fiddler on the Roof, The Lion King, and Mary Poppins,” she said. “We try to select a wide variety of Broadway shows. It really makes it fun for kids to have this opportunity.”
Student groups keep busy in New York City. “We are on the run morning until night,” says Dickson. “We see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the 911 Memorial, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the Intrepid, Trinity Church, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and much more,” she added.”
The town of Lovell, Wyoming has only 2,300 people, and very little diversity. On the trip to New York City, students visit Chinatown, Little Italy, and even have lunch in a New York Jewish Deli. These are all new experiences for them and Dickson believes this exposure to a diverse city life is necessary for their education and personal growth.
Over the past 25 years, trips have grown in size from just 16 kids and two chaperones to 30 kids and 35 adults. “We make it open for family to travel along with children, and they often do. People come in from Calgary, California and Texas,” observed Dickson. “It’s a fun opportunity and it would cost them so much more to go on their own then to travel with the student group. Everything is included and paid for in advance for this trip: meals, airfare, bus and hotel,” she concluded.
Students actually only miss a day of school, since the Lovell school trip is always scheduled over the Easter holiday. This means less time out of school for travel and more time for out-in-the-world learning.
Having the children see a variety of cultures and hear different languages puts them in a different atmosphere. “It’s important for these kids to have the opportunity to get out and see something of the world and find out there’s a heck of a lot more than the state of Wyoming. We love it here, but it’s good to go visit other places,” says Dickson.
To find out more about scheduling performance trips to New York City, Washington D.C. and Orlando Florida as well as other destinations, visit: http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.