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Rebels headed South

Band traveling to Florida, Mexico

Band traveling to Florida, Mexico

April 17, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - As the marching season wound down, South Hagers-town High School band students crossed their fingers for better weather.

On Sunday, they got it.

Blue skies greeted students and chaperones awaiting their first leg of a trip that will take them about 1,000 miles one way through six states and two countries. More than seven months after Hurricane Katrina washed out plans to visit New Orleans, the students expressed excitement about the chance to visit Key West, Fla., and Cozumel, Mexico, during a weeklong trip.

"These guys, this trip is a reward for their hard work," band director Kathy Seman said Sunday morning before students left on buses that would take them about 1,000 miles to the Port of Miami. There they will board a Carnival cruise ship, aboard which they will perform Thursday.

"I can't wait," Emily Forrester, 14, said as she stood outside with friends. A class countdown to the trip began two months ago, she said.

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As a freshman, Emily probably will have the opportunity to travel twice - the band normally goes on a big trip once every three years, Seman said.

Hurricanes nearly washed out hopes for this year's trip, Seman said.

"Every time we picked a destination, there was a hurricane that blasted that place," Seman said.

Students sold pizza and candy and participated in other fundraisers to raise money to offset their costs - $796 per individual - of the trip, Seman said. Seventy-two students and 25 adult chaperones, mostly parents, planned to travel, she said.

Senior Jennifer Ferenz said her parents refused to let her join the band on its trip to the Bahamas three years ago. This time, the 18-year-old said they voiced some parting words of wisdom but raised no objections.

"They told me to be careful and stay safe, and that they love me," she said.

Students said they were looking forward to spending time with their friends. With school back in session Tuesday, some students said they also planned to work on make-up assignments.

As students assembled inside the band room for a last-minute meeting, luggage sat in piles on sidewalks and grass near the school's side doors. A fuzzy stuffed yellow chick with an orange bill and feet rested on some suitcases, and pillows haphazardly topped other piles. A message on a bag of double-chocolate brownie cookies read, "Erin's for trip - Don't Touch!!"

Jeff Bolinger, 17, a sophomore trombone player, was quick to sum up what he most looked forward to about the trip:

"Basically, just getting away from home."

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