Singing 'Au Revoir' to Two School Trips

Spencer Schultz and Scottie O’Bryan

Staff Writers

Students this time of year begin to look forward to family vacations over spring break, as well as annual school trips. Although spring breaks will continue, because of unforeseen issues, Jamesville-DeWitt High School students will miss out on the French Club's trip to Canada and the Music Department will not travel to Boston for a music competition.

French Club adviser Solace Amankwah made the decision to cancel the club’s trip to Montreal scheduled for April 24 to 26 after collaborating with the other French teachers about the lack of students signed up for the trip. “With only 20 students signed up, it was going to be extremely expensive for people to go,” says Madame Amankwah. For the 20 students who planned on attending the trip, the price per person would have been $589, a significant increase from $445, the price Madame Amankwah expected based on 40 students attending.

In Madame Amankwah's three years of taking the annual trip to Canada, this is the first that the group has had to cancel. Some students feel that the lack of people attending the trip this year was caused by the destination the group planned on traveling to in Canada.

"Last year's trip to Quebec City did have many more students than this year's trip to Montreal," says Madame Amankwah. "I find that Quebec City does offer much more French immersion than Montreal, so that may have been part of the reason that fewer students signed up for the trip this year,” says Madame Amankwah.

Madame Amankwah says that there would have been no way to prevent the cancellation of the trip. “We truly tried all we could. We made announcements and talked to parents but we just couldn’t get the interest we needed,” says Madame Amankwah.

Freshmen Sydney Baum and Taku LaClair criticize the French Club for not finding other ways to lower the price. “I thought the trip seemed exciting, but it was just too much money,” says LaClair. However, Madame Amankwah insists that there was no way to lower the price, other than encouraging more students to attend the trip. “The tour company that the trip was scheduled under had already arranged specific activities for us to do while we were in Montreal and the cost of doing those activities couldn’t be changed,” says Madame Amankwah.

The French Club isn’t planning a substitute trip in place of Montreal; however, plans for next year’s trip to Canada are still ongoing.

Although the cancellation of the Montreal trip was almost unavoidable, the termination of the Music Department's trip to Boston is a different story.

After meeting with Principal Paul Gasparini, band and orchestra teacher Dan Blumenthal and chorus teacher Beth Quackenbush made the decision to cancel the trip when 42 students suddenly dropped out of the trip for a variety of reasons. Many students that had originally signed up for the trip failed to pay the first deposit, causing the initial price to increase by over $100. This made the cost of the trip unaffordable to many students. “We felt that the number of kids that were actually able to participate in the trip didn't accurately represent the caliber of our ensembles, so we cancelled the trip,” says Mr. Blumenthal.

The Music Department scheduled the trip as an opportunity for students to compete against choirs and orchestras from high schools across the country. Originally, students in Concert Choir, Chorale, Women’s Choir, and the orchestra were offered the opportunity to go on the trip that was scheduled for April 17 through 19.  

Each J-D ensemble was planned to perform two pieces in front of a panel of expert judges and compete for first, second or third place. “The trip gave us the chance to have something to work towards and look forward to. Kids work harder when they have a goal in mind and a finish line to cross. That is what the trip did for us last year, and it’s disappointing that we won’t have that opportunity again,” says Mrs. Quackenbush. In addition to competing, students were to be treated to a day at Six Flags near Springfield, Mass., a concert  by "Sons of Serendip” and a trip to the New England Aquarium.

“I think as a school, J-D loves to compete, so that was a huge reason we decided to take the trip in the first place,” says Mrs. Quackenbush. Freshman Nico Modesti feels that the trip also acted as a great reward for students who participate in music. Mrs. Quackenbush agrees saying that chorus kids work really hard. “They could be sitting in a study hall or doing something else, but they continue to take chorus year after year. The trip is an opportunity to give those students something I feel that they deserved,” says Mrs. Quackenbush. Mrs. Quackenbush is most upset that the senior class won’t get a trip since they “really deserved it.”

Mrs. Quackenbush and Mr. Blumenthal are doing everything in their power to prevent this trip’s mishap from occurring in the future. “We’re going to do sign-ups differently next year, so no matter what we will know what the correct dollar amount of the trip will be from the start,” says Quackenbush. The Music Department will require students to pay a deposit when signing up, to prevent students who are not fully committed on attending the trip to sign up. “The student commitment had to be there from the beginning, and it wasn’t there for all the students this year,” says Mr. Blumenthal.

Through all of the disappointments surrounding the cancellation of the trip, both Mrs. Quackenbush and students alike see light at the end of the tunnel. “I feel like there is a weight lifted off my shoulders, because now I don’t really have to stress about the competition anymore,” says Modesti.  Mrs. Quackenbush also realizes that the cancellation gives her more time to make the Chorus Festival and Senior Tribute Concert to the best they can possibly be. Freshman Markos Petkopoulos agrees. “At least now we don’t have to continue to sing really hard music and instead, we can focus our efforts toward the performance for our families and friends at the end of the year.”