Friday, May 3, 2013

Choir Tour 2013

Here is the (gianormous) recap of Choir Tour 2013...
We had a call time on April 11th at MMHS of 3:55 am.
So, basically I got about 3 hours of sleep.  Who knew that it would take such effort to pack for a weekend?  wow.
It was a little rainy when we left Mapleton, but that was just the beginning of cold and rainy.
We had students on 3 different planes.  Our flight was the only one that flew into O'Hare, so we met up with the other students/chaperones when the bus dropped us off at the Magnificent Mile.
What did we do first?  found the recommended deep dish pizza place and sat for 52 minutes while our pizza cooked.  (yes, I set a timer).
Then, we were charged and ready to go shopping...

 We just window shopped at Tiffany's.
Natalie and Kelli at Forever 21.
It really did take forever.  We got bored.

Next up...Victoria's Secret.  We were really bored by this time.  We took a cat nap.
Back to the bus by 5 pm so that we could travel to the theater to see Big Fish.
There was a mix up with the tickets and they actually had us scheduled for the following week.
It was crazy trying to keep 150+ occupied while the tour guide sorted things out.
The chairs were not comfortable, but I did manage to sleep through the entire first half of the performance.  But...the second half was really good.
(this is where I ran into my blogging friend, the Farmer's Wife...)
Back on bus and checked into our hotel at 11:00 pm.
I was soooo tired.

Day 2...
This is the Chicago Art Institute.  However, we did not visit inside this building because our destination was across the street at this building:
at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

 Performing at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
I do not have more pictures/better pictures because the first thing I did when I got here was find a soft seat and take a nap.  
Summer and Sophie

 Mid morning snack...the infamous sugar cookie.

 After the performance at Symphony Hall, they went up to the Grand Ballroom and received instruction from some famous lady.  I did not fall asleep here, but other chaperones did. (I took pictures of them!)
 Summer and Sophie, on the front row, what good students.
 Landon, Ethan, Summer, Sophie, Kaylie, Lexi

Back at the Art Institute for pictures. 
And once again, we did not go inside.
(I did watch Ferris Beuller last week, so I saw some of the art work in the movie.  check!!)

We went to another musical this evening, the Million Dollar Quartet.
It was amazing.  The kids loved it.  And I only slept through about 1/3 of it.

The next day we went to the Willis Tower (Sears Tower)
 Natalie and our girls 
 dang. I wish this picture wasn't so blurry.

 Kelli and Summer out on the skybox with the see-through floor.

Summer and Landon had to show Coach Smith a Chicago newspaper to get excused from missing school!

Time to watch another performance...yippee

Next stop:  the Natural History Museum.

 Our favorite exhibit was the Pacific Islands.

The choirs performed in the Main Hall.  
The only stipulation was that they could not sing any religious songs.
And they followed that rule.  mostly.  After they were done.  
The pianist just happened to play the first few notes in the most religious song they sing.
And the students just happened to start singing as they left the performing area.
After Summer's choir finished singing, they got invited to travel to Tokyo.  seriously.

Next stop:
Winnetonka Congregational Church.

 More singing.  More instruction.

 Winnetonka is famous for this home, just a block away from the Congregational Church.
If it is not familiar to you, I will tell you it is the home from Home Alone.

On Saturday evening we were lucky enough to be invited to a Naperville, Illinois Stake Dance.
When we arrived we easily tripled the attendance of the stake dance.  Our kids arrived a little later than expected.  But, I think they were tired of singing, and sitting on a bus so they were full of energy when they arrived.
They had a blast singing, dancing, enjoying the music, and letting go of a lot of energy!
It was seriously funny to watch the leaders who were in charge.  I think we shocked them--with our numbers and our enthusiasm.
I was proud of our kids (boys) for making sure they danced with the locals.
I really wish Stake Dances were like this in Utah.  What are we doing wrong?

I have no pictures from Sunday because...1.  I didn't think it was appropriate to take photos at the churches (even though they did not seem to mind at all at the Congregational Church, I knew it was not appropriate at the LDS church)  and 2.  I was tired of carrying a camera around all day.

So, use your imagination.
The MMHS choirs were part of the Congregational Churches program on Youth day.
The youth leaders were entirely in charge of the service.
They passed out programs that listed the prayers and scriptures that were to be recited with the congregation.  The youth shared their experiences about a recent mission to the Dominican Republic.
The program ended with our choirs singing.  
On the last verse of the last song, the chaperones made their way to the stage and sang the last verse as they stood next to their child.  NOT a dry eye in the place.
When the service was over, the congregation stood and applauded our singers as we filed out.
We mingled for a while and so many of the people asked about our group.
The things they asked:
Is it a private/christian school?
How big is the school?
Where are you from?
smallish public high school in Utah!
Hello, missionary opportunity!!

Next stop was North Shore First Ward Sacrament Meeting.
I think we doubled their attendance for the day.
I think they had every available priesthood holder passing the sacrament.

We ended the Fast & Testimony Meeting by singing the closing hymn.
Same format, the chaperones all joined in on the last verse of the hymn standing next to their son or daughter.
But, with our numbers, we didn't come close to fitting on the stage, so we just formed a giant circle around the center section of pews.  It was very touching.  I was crying and just mouthing "watermelon" because Summer said that if Mr. Mendenhall knew how badly I sang, he wouldn't have let me join in.
We didn't get the same reception after the meeting as we had early in the day.
We concluded that it was because the LDS congregation was accustomed to that type of music and to feeling the Spirit so strongly in that manner.  And because it was 1:00 church and those poor parents had lots and lots of little kids to tend to.

A quick drive by to the Chicago Temple.  Gates were locked so we didn't get out.
Back to the hotel to prepare for the "Choir Side"

We arrived at the Naperville Stake Center for a Stake Fireside.
I was completely unprepared for what this would entail.
I cannot wrap my head around the fact that a choir group from a public high school can have every single member participate in a religious meeting singing religious songs, LDS specific.
The choir would sing a song and then a student would get up and share some thoughts or bear testimony, one after another.
About 8 seniors that Mr. Mendenhall had spoken to about an hour before the meeting began, shared their thoughts.
There were 6 senior male students that had mission calls that were part of our tour.
And 2 of them had mission calls at home waiting to be opened!
I was just so impressed with this group.
The concluding speaker was one of our chaperones, President Hickey, a stake president from one of the Spanish Fork Stakes.
We finished it up the same as the earlier meetings that day...the leaders/chaperones joining the choir.
More tears.  I didn't even try to sing "watermelon" this time.  I just smiled.
The leaders of the Stake commented to us that they were so impressed and had they known what a meaningful event this would be, they would have made every effort to fill the entire cultural hall with members.
Quite a compliment.  However, I would imagine that we, as students/parents/chaperones/leaders, got just as much or more from the experience as they did.
I know that there are ugly, awful, horrible things at MMHS as there are at any high school.
But, I am so proud to have been part of this tour and to be associated with such an amazing group of kids.  I am super proud of Summer for choosing to be part of this and for the hard work and determination that it takes to be able to make this happen.
Such a great group of kids.  I just think it's so awesome that their testimonies are so strong and that they would be willing to share it so well with song and words.  I am so happy about the timing for the change in missionary age.  It is really neat for Summer and all of these students to be mingling with these young men who will graduate and enter the MTC within just a few weeks or months.  And they are so open and excited about it.  Really, really amazes me.
Mr. Mendenhall is amazing and these kids are so lucky and blessed to have him as their teacher and leader.  He is very talented and would have no problem moving on to bigger and better things.  These kids are blessed.  Summer is blessed.  And I am blessed to have been part of it.

We couldn't resist a bite of pizza after eating relatively well all week.
And yes, we shared that bed.  No wonder I had to nap every chance I could find...
These are the cute girls that we were responsible for throughout the tour:
McKenzie, Jenille, Sophie, Kaylie, Lexi and Summer
opening their letter from home with their chaperone gift:  designer ice packs!!

Last Day:  Navy Pier.
The kids wanted to rent a bike and take a tour of the pier.
they asked us (me and Natalie) to join but I think that is because they needed our cash and our driver's license to rent the bike.

It wasn't as easy as it looked.  It might be because of the boy on the front bumper.
Or the lady in the back with the map.  I don't know...

Time for another nap.  When we stopped to take this shot, I sat on the metal couch, Natalie took the picture, and the kids took off on the bike.  Natalie and I walked back to the pier.
Summer and Sophie at the famous bean.

Most of the kids from our bus at the bean.
Hunter, Shalee, Summer, Sohpie
a quick pic taken from the bus on the way to the airport.
Good-bye Chicago.
I can't wait until next year...who knows where they will go!


Amara said...

Oh I wish I were there! Mr. Mendenhall is.Amazingly talented even if I have complained about him in the past. They are all so lucky to be a part of that group.

Corinne Baird said...

Wow. What an awesome experience!