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Bloomingdale High band needs help getting to London parade

With their red and black uniforms shining brightly, they will march through London, a moving billboard for our area that will rival the neon-lit billboard in Piccadilly Circus.

Precise steps and crisp notes will mark their performance as they go through Trafalgar Square, past the Landseer lions and Nelson's Column. As they make their way to the end of the route, the excitement of being on an international stage will steel them against a New Year's Day morning likely to be chilly.

Can't you can see the Bloomingdale High Rajun' Bull Band passing Big Ben and Westminster Abbey while playing a popular Coldplay tune?

Viva la Vida indeed.

The vision of playing in the 25th annual London New Year's Day Parade crystallizes with each passing day for the band's 250 members, as well as the school's chorus and orchestra, which also will make the trip and perform at separate events.

At a recent practice, band members sported black T-shirts emblazoned with a stylish Union Jack logo and the words "London Tour-British Invasion." The band treated parents and supporters to a preview last week, which heightened the enthusiasm that began last fall when the school music program began plans to travel to England.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said junior Amber Aversa, a member of the band's Crimson Guard flag corps.

The opportunity came about largely because Bloomingdale's band and music program has established itself as one of the area's biggest and best. More than 600 musicians make up the department, which routinely receives superior ratings in competitions.

A group of judges composed largely of college marching band members recommended Bloomingdale for the prestigious honor of participating in the London music festival, an event for which only 25 U.S. programs are selected each year.

It also helped that band director Jon Sever had experience with the event, having gone when he led the River Ridge High band in New Port Richey.

Sever speaks of life-altering outcomes when describing the experience, which gives the band a chance to perform before a reported international audience of 220 million in 192 countries.

The trip will not only take the kids to popular tourist destinations, but also show them a different way of life and likely heighten their appreciation for the freedoms we Americans can take for granted. Such was the case when I went to Europe as a high school sophomore before these kids were born.

Of course, such a grand experience comes with a price tag. The trip costs each student $2,900. Students have been paying monthly $300 installments since January, but Sever and the band's board of directors will begin seeking community support to defray costs. Donations will be equally divided among attending students.

"Wouldn't it be nice to tell the students 'Don't worry about those last two payments. They've been covered'?" Sever said. "We're always talking about what's wrong with kids, what's wrong with education. What a way to spotlight what's right with kids, what's right with education."

These remain economically challenging times, but we should never pass on a chance to send a message of care to kids. They need to know we appreciate their hours being devoted to worthy pursuits instead of idle time robbers.

Donations can be sent to the attention of Jon Sever, Band Director, Bloomingdale High School, 1700 E Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico 33596. To listen to the marching band, visit youtube.com/watch?v=JIeuZJ7P83k&feature (or for short, bit.ly/aIDd2j.)

That's all I'm saying.

Bloomingdale High band needs help getting to London parade 08/26/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:48pm]
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