Sixty-eight Hayes High School students returned Sunday from a five-day trip to New York City. On Tuesday, they called the trip a “life-changing” experience.
On Feb. 13, the group of music students at Hayes, along with chaperones and Hayes Principal Richard Stranges, travelled to New York City to perform at two cathedrals, see Broadway shows and sight-see.
“It’s interesting, all the different types of people you meet,” said junior Mary Beth Zimmerman, who added one of her favorite parts of the trip was visiting the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
“It was very humbling to see history,” she said. “It was very emotional and very sad. I never knew how real it was.”
Madeline Thompson, a senior, said that many students on the trip were born either right before September 2001 or born afterward, and the students were fascinated to learn about it.
“It’s so strange and sad,” Thompson said. “It’s hard to comprehend.”
Thompson added she also enjoyed seeing what New York City was like, even if she doesn’t think she could live there.
“It was overwhelming,” she said. “I learned more about myself. It was really wonderful.”
During their trip, the students did a Broadway workshop with Geno Carr and Astrid Van Wieren, two cast members from “Come From Away,” a Broadway musical.
Hailey Wright, a senior, said students could see two of four shows: “Come From Away,” “The Lion King,” “Aladdin” and “Kiss Me, Kate.”
Wright was glad she chose to see “Come From Away” after the workshop.
“After the show, I got all their signatures on the playbill, and we sang for Astrid and she recorded it,” Wright said. “That interaction between us was really great. That was my favorite part.”
Austin Hassel, a senior, said the Broadway workshop was very insightful.
“They were such normal people,” Hassel said. “We got to see how achievable it is. Being able to talk to them and see how they work was really cool.”
Hassel said the trip was an opportunity for many students to “see how other places work.” Hassel said he also enjoyed performing at the cathedrals in New York, since the acoustics are so good that it takes several seconds for singers to hear themselves.
“These memories shape the kind of person you become,” he said.
Kylie Booth, a junior, said she loved the trip and felt like it helped the whole group of students bond.
“The entire experience was just amazing,” Booth said. “My favorite part was the dance on the dinner cruise. I’ve never felt closer to people in my life. We were all having so much fun.”
Wright echoed Booth’s sentiment about the group’s dynamic, and she said the boat cruise was “a really nice unity moment.”
“We are really fortunate for our music department,” Booth said. “It’s memories like these that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Stranges said this was the first out-of-state trip he had taken with students, and he complimented their behavior.
“I’ve never been more proud of a group of students,” Stranges said. “They represented themselves and their community so well.”
Stranges added one of his proudest moments was when the students saw a World War II veteran celebrating his 100th birthday and stopped to sing “Happy Birthday” to him as a group.
“It was a remarkable time,” Stranges said. “It’s life changing for them, and a great opportunity to see people living and working together. It was incredible.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.