Photo by Kurt Howard
Global Connections Band members at the Kennedy Center the night they heard the National Symphonic Orchestra perform.

GC in DC: In their own words

(Editor’s Note: Highline Times freelance photographer Kurt Howard was embedded with the Global Connections Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble as a chaperone/photographer during the group’s once-in-a-lifetime trip to Washington D.C. for the Presidential Inauguration Festival.

Music director Lyn Nelthropp has been at Tyee/Global Connection High School in SeaTac for 23 years. During that time, she has taken her students on many trips around the country, but never to Washington D.C. for a presidential inauguration--until now. Following is part of my interview with her, as well as comments from the students.)

Why were you invited to the Presidential Inauguration Music Festival? “At the Orlando Heritage Festival a year ago April, both groups [wind ensemble and jazz ensemble] scored a 96 average. One of the judges from that competition recommended us, based on our scores and the performances that we gave to participate in this festival without an audition.”

What made this trip so special? “The students I was with, who were able to go, and knowing that the students had to do something to earn that honor also made it special. Of course, the inauguration was amazing; to be able to be there to witness the swearing in of the president.”

Do you have any favorite memories from this trip? “Yes, to see the students sit in the congressional seats in the House Armed Services Committee Room was pretty outstanding and nothing I would've expected. I had no idea we were going to receive such an amazing tour. [U.S. Congressman] Adam Smith’s staffers were so well spoken (and) they couldn't have been more gracious and accommodating. If we'd left after the first two hours of the trip, I would have been very pleased with the education that the students received. As it happened, we had four more days of continuing education to go along with it.”

I also wanted to give some students an opportunity to tell about some places we visited, and what the places meant to them.

Arlington Cemetery--Comments by Alex Tagami, 9th grade, flute and trombone. “It was a really beautiful place with all the countless tombstones; it’s like a piece of art. The whole atmosphere was mystic, especially the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. When I see all the headstones I feel it is really honorable that they got to be buried there because they lost their lives fighting in wars for our freedom.”

Kennedy Center--Comments by Martin Oberero, 12th grade, clarinet and piano. “That place was amazing and humongous. I sat there with a few of my friends and we witnessed amazing playing of great masterpieces of music, being played by the best musicians in the country at one of the best venues in the country or even the world. The piano solo in particular was phenomenal. When he got to play his encore, I didn't think it was going to get any better. That piece touched me so much that by the end of it I was crying. My hands were against my face the whole time and nobody knew because I was leaning forward. When I got up, I was crying and my friends were like, you can't be crying right now. I was thinking they're going to make fun of me, but instead they patted me on the back and said, ‘that's cool, man, I'm so happy for you.’
I’m for sure going to be a musician when I grow up because of that concert. It did nothing but help me grow as a musician.”

National Air & Space Museum--Comments by Hector Dominguez, 10th grade, percussionist. “It’s a really big place. We saw a lot of historical airplanes. There are parts that are interactive: you can touch screens and learn things about why the air and space are the way they are and why the stars are so bright. You can go in a space shuttle and see what it’s like inside. There was a display of an astronaut that showed how they showered without gravity.”

The Capital Tour--Comments by Elijah Golafale, 10th grade, trumpet. “The thing that impressed me most about the capital tour was the actual size of the building. It is enormous! I'm sitting there wondering how much material did they need to excavate to actually build this thing. All the giant murals that they have, the artwork is beautiful. Where Congress votes, we were not allowed to take our cell phones or cameras. It was pretty cool to see where Congressman Adam Smith sat in the committee room.

The Inauguration--Comments by Jimmy Padua, 11th grade, trumpet. “I thought it was momentous because of the vast number of people there. I've never seen that many people that densely populated within one small location. It was interesting to see it because it was the first inauguration that I've actually watched and paid attention to. What really touched me was the love for someone they really never personally met. All those people there were making it seem like they love Obama, like he's their brother. I guess it's that iconic figure, being the president that they're looking at.”

In closing, all the members of Global Connections wind ensemble are very thankful for the generous contributions of the Highline community. Without your help and support, this trip would never have happened. I know they made you proud!

Global Connections Jazz and Wind Ensembles rated Superior, with Distinction

Press release:

Global Connections High School Wind and Jazz Ensembles received the highest possible rating, Superior with Distinction, for their performances at the Presidential Inauguration Music Festival.

During their trip, January 18 – 21, the students also witnessed the Oath of Office and the Presidential Address, toured famous monuments, visited Smithsonian museums, and had the chance to interact with music groups from across the country. A special highlight was the tour of the U.S. capitol, arranged by US Congressman Adam Smith.

“The trip to Washington, D.C., was an amazing and inspirational experience for our students,” said Rick Harwood, Principal, Global Connections High School. “Our students were fully engaged in every aspect of the trip, as they experienced one exciting event after another.

“The chance to be part of one of the most important events in the world made a lasting impression on our students and expanded the possibilities they see for themselves as contributing members of their communities, local and global.”

The trip to perform in the music festival was made possible by the very generous Highline community. Many individuals and organizations pitched in to raise the $60,000 needed to pay for trip expenses for the students.

Nearly 80 percent of students at Global Connections High School qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch, so community support was essential.

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