Hayes High School choir and orchestra students returned to class this week after their visit last week to New York City.
During the trip, students performed at St. Bartholomew’s Church, saw two Broadway shows and a performance at Carnegie Hall, and were able to get conduct a workshop with theater professionals.
Senior and choir member Eleni Caudill said seeing the performance at Carnegie Hall was “breathtaking.”
“It was spiritual … an out-of-body experience for a lot of us,” she said. “(Seeing the Broadway shows) was very motivational. Performing at St. Bartholomew’s’s Church was magical.”
Caudill added that the 9/11 Memorial was a memorable part of the trip for her.
“You learn a lot about (9/11) in school but it doesn’t compare to actually seeing it for yourself,” she said.
Caudill, who plans to attend Ohio University to study forensic science or linguistics, said the trip was “refreshing,” and she thanked the school staff who made the trip possible.
Fellow senior Jake Stein, who plans to attend Wilmington College after graduation to study communication arts and coaching, said the trip was “a life-changing experience,” and his favorite part was that his mother and grandmother were chaperones on the trip. Stein added he appreciated the freedom and respect the adults on the trip gave to the students.
“It was nice to be able to talk to adults like people and not students,” he said.
Senior Ryan Gray agreed with Stein, adding his favorite part was walking around the city.
“We had a lot more freedom than we expected,” Gray said. “(We got to) just enjoy the city and it didn’t always have to be tourism-type things. I haven’t traveled in years, so it was nice to actually be forced to go on a vacation. They treated us like adults.”
Gray said he’s planning to study engineering or film after graduation.
Gabrielle Condo, a senior in the choir, said seeing the performances was inspirational for the students.
“A lot of us enjoyed seeing what we do every day at a professional setting,” she said. “The Broadway shows were incredible.”
Condo added she’s proud of the group’s professionalism at the 9/11 Memorial.
“We turned off being high school students,” she said. “We weren’t 130 high school kids, we were 130 adults.”
Condo said she plans to attend The Ohio State University in the fall to study business economics and fashion. She added the trip gave her a taste of what life will be like after graduation.
“Having that independence, it gave me an idea of college a little and made me more excited for college,” Condo said.
Condo, Gray and Caudill added one of their favorite parts of the trip was spending time with “Grandma Sally (Stein).”
Orchestra sophomore Walt Conte said it was inspirational to see the performance at Carnegie Hall.
“It was really cool to see people doing the thing in the place I want to be some day,” Conte said.
Choir student Gabriel Eckman, a sophomore, said he enjoyed the workshop the students did on Broadway.
“(I liked) working with the people who actually work on the shows,” he said. “It was really cool to learn the music we were going to hear. … It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Kailyn Smith said she grew closer with her fellow students on the trip, which was bittersweet since it’s her senior year at Hayes.
“I’ve been with some of them since kindergarten,” Smith said. “It’s kind of sad but joyful at the same time.”
Natalie Hohman, a junior, agreed the trip was a bonding experience.
“My favorite part was spending time with everyone and seeing ‘Dear Evan Hanson,’” Hohman said. “It was just amazing. Everyone was in there together.”
Alexandria Ritter, a senior, said she felt the same way when the students saw “Wicked,” and she added the bonds forged on the trip will make the group better performers.
“I felt like everybody that went to see (Wicked) felt the same emotions,” Ritter said. “We were feeling it together. Being close helps us trust each other when we’re singing. We know to listen to each other even more. We’re not afraid to ask questions of each other.”
Ritter said she plans to attend Bowling Green to study forensic science after graduation.
Orchestra sophomore Julia Waltz said she enjoyed getting to do a workshop one-on-one with a Broadway performer and enjoyed the friendships she made on the trip.
“We got a look into the daily life of a Broadway performer, which is cool to see,” Waltz said. “Before this trip, I never talked to a lot of the people in our choir, and now, I’m really close to them.”
Meg Smart, a senior in the orchestra, said she enjoyed the city atmosphere and was happy the trip was able to take place after all the students have been through since the pandemic began.
“I liked how the people in New York expressed themselves and were a lot different than the people in Ohio,” Smart said. “The trip actually happening felt really great.”