Fund-raising for 2017 trip would begin in the fall, for all but the youngest students.

    Although they didn't officially vote on it, initial comments from Crookston School Board members on Monday, after watching and listening to a presentation from music staff, parents and students involved in this past April's music trip to Florida, seemed to indicate that they'll soon green-light another trip to be taken in four years.

    If that indeed happens, Choir Director Belinda Fjeld said, student fund-raising for that trip would commence in the fall. She added, however, that music staff and the Crookston Music Trip Parent Organization (CMTPO) has decided that if another trip is approved, music students who will be in sixth grade in the fall won't be asked to fund-raise until they enter the high school as seventh graders in the fall of 2014. "Sixth grade is just too young," Fjeld said, acknowledging that the youngest students, who would be freshmen on the next trip, would have one less year of fund-raising than the older music students.

    They might not have as much to raise as the students who fund-raised for the 2013 trip, however. Students for this year's trip had to raise $1,800, Fjeld said, but the actual cost for each student ended up being only $1,700 so each student got around $100 back. If another trip is OK'ed by the board, she said the hope is to reduce the amount students need to raise to $1,500.

    "This is the Cadillac of trips...the things the kids do and see, it's way better than most other trips like this," Fjeld told the board. "But I think there are areas we could scale back in order to reduce the fund-raising burden."
    While the trip for years has involved band, orchestra and choir students flying to Disneyworld, the first trip back in 1985 involved only Lloyd Lee's Pirate Marching Band and they traveled by bus.

    The 2013 included 156 music students and 20 chaperones. Band Director Christopher Brandt told the board Monday the trip was a very busy yet balanced one, and he was surprised by how "educationally worthwhile" it was. "Especially at Animal Kingdom," he said. "It was tremendous. The kids saw so many animals in a natural habitat."

    Fjeld, Brandt and Orchestra Director Kyle Entzel agreed that their student musicians performed well, with Entzel saying he's noticed improved play from his orchestra students since they returned. Fjeld noted that it was especially challenging, acoustically speaking, for the choir students to sing outside in a large, open setting, but that they persevered. "They saw both The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast performed live and they were just blown away by the singing," she added.

    Senior music student McKaela Larson told the board that the years of fund-raising gave her and other students a goal to work toward and something to look forward to. It was not only "awesome," but educational, she added. "Thanks for approving it," Larson added. "I hope you approve it again."

    Student McKaylee Klamm added that the trip provided her an opportunity to expand her circle of friends. "I got closer with a lot of my classmates that I wasn't close with before the trip," she said.

    The trip wasn't glitch-free. The plane had to land in Peoria, Illinois because of fuel issues, and spent two hours on the tarmac in Orlando because of luggage issues. But chaperone Erik Kanten said the students rolled with the punches amazingly well. "I didn't hear a peep," he said. "The kids dealt with it so well, better than I did, I think."

    Chaperone Lauria Wavra said it was hard to describe her feelings as she saw the marching band with the Crookston sign coming up the street at Disneyworld. "To see your Crookston kids representing your community, it was amazing," she said.

    Fjeld said the next wave of music students, the music staff and the CMTPO are "fully in support" of another trip in 2017.

    "We'll talk about it and get back to you, but I wouldn't see any reason why we wouldn't (approve another trip)," Board Chair Frank Fee said. "I've heard nothing but good things about this one."