The Thomson High School Band must have hit the right notes with someone. The Bulldog Brigade is planning a trip to perform at the 65th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
Although the trip would take place in December of 2006, preparations have already begun. THS Band Director Jesse Morlan has presented all of the facts about the performance to the McDuffie County Board of Education, which is still considering the trip.
The band would perform at the Battleship Missouri, which is located in Pearl Harbor. Mr. Morlan is excited about the opportunity to let his students experience Hawaii and help celebrate the sacrifices made at Pearl Harbor.
"It's going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience because lots of people get to go to Hawaii, but they don't get to...help celebrate the 65th anniversary," Mr. Morlan said.
Aside from playing at the anniversary celebration, the band will play at the Ala Moana shopping center in Honolulu as well as attend clinics at the University of Hawaii. They will also swap concerts with a local high school band where learning opportunities and chances for cultural exchange are huge, according to Mr. Morlan.
"They're going to be curious about what it's like in the South, and what grits are like," he said.
Students will also be able to tour Pearl Harbor, meet survivors of the attack, visit the Polynesian Cultural Center, go snorkeling in Hanauma Bay and hike to the top of Diamond Head crater.
Already, interest in participation with the band has increased. Mr. Morlan planned for about 200 students to attend the trip, but that may have to change. He said even the possibility of the trip has improved retention in the band as well.
Should the board approve the trip, members of this year's freshman class will be seniors when the band makes the week-long trip to Honolulu. Students finishing sixth grade in the Thomson Middle School band now will be freshmen at THS in time for the trip.
"Enrollment is already up," Mr. Morlan said. "Retention has already gotten better. I'm looking at it as a tool to better the program in the musical sense, and heighten an already good program and take it to the next step performance-wise."
The idea for the trip started when Mr. Morlan performed in Hawaii with his National Guard band last summer. Contacts there hooked Mr. Morlan up with those in charge of the celebration.
"I gave them the application and our credentials and everything...and after they looked over all that, they were like 'Please come,'" Mr. Morlan said.
The Band Boosters are already in the process of setting up fundraisers to support the trip. Should it be approved, the first fundraiser, vacation travel albums provided by Weimar Enterprises, will start immediately.