The band spent April 4-7 in the nation’s capital, beginning with Union Station, followed by a walking tour through the Illuminated memorials and monuments.
The band stopped at the the World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial, and ended with the group admiring the city lights from the Lincoln Memorial steps.
“On Friday, we began our tour at the White House visitors center,” said band director Brandon Linkous. “The group then had the chance to walk to the White House to take photos. Many of the students and chaperones were able to see a helicopter land and take off from the South Lawn.
“The rest of the morning and afternoon was spent exploring the National Mall and the various Smithsonians. Following a dinner at Hard Rock Cafe, the band watched a performance of ‘Into The Woods’ at Historic Ford’s Theater.”
Saturday was performance day, with the band performing at Worldstride’s OnStage Heritage Festival.
The students performed three pieces for a panel of judges, who then gave them a rating and ranking.
Following the performance, one of the judges came on stage to give students a mini clinic and to talk to them about their performance.
Afterward, the band traveled to Arlington National Cemetery.
The students witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They also visited the graves of President John F. Kennedy and family, President William H. Taft, the Colombia Memorial, and many more.
Following the visit to Arlington, the band toured the Iwo Jima Memorial.
Saturday night was the awards ceremony, where band members were treated to a formal dinner and ceremony. The band received a first award in its division and a gold rating.
The band also received an invitation to attend Worldstride’s Festival of Gold. This festival allows only ensembles that receive a gold rating to attend.
Mount Vernon was the final destination for the band on Sunday morning. The students had most of the morning to tour George Washington’s home and visit his gravesite.
“One of our final moments was a group photo of the lawn in front of the mansion before departing for home,” Linkous said. “This trip was important for the group because it gave many of the students and even some chaperones their first opportunity to visit our nation’s capital. One of my personal favorite moments occurred as we crossed the Potomac River and the students were seeing monuments and memorials for the first time.”
Linkous added, “Listening to comments and conversations that they were having, it was pure amazement and the excitement in their voices made the entire trip worth it.”