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SMA band to march in NYC’s Veteran’s Day parade

7th October 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Kelly Parker
Contributing Writer

Start spreadin’ the news: The St. Mary’s Academy band and marching unit are heading to the Big Apple. The all-girls group has the rare opportunity to take their show on the road to New York City for the celebrated Veteran’s Day parade; which happens to be the oldest and largest parade honoring veterans in the county.

The young ladies of St. Mary’s Academy will be the first all-female marching unit to participate in the event, according to band director Ray Johnson.

“I’m looking forward to meet­ing people and performing in a new place; other than home.” senior Tyroneca Johnson says.SMA_Band-100713

About 100 members of the school’s band and marching unit plan to take part in the parade, which is held on November 11.

The trip is one that has been anticipated for some time; but finances have been the hindrance that caused the band and marching unit to decline past requests to participate.

“We always got an invitation, but we just didn’t have the funds to make the trip,” Johnson states.

According to Johnson, it will cost close to $700 per student, including accommodations.

To date, the band has raised nearly $10,000 of the $51,000 total package cost. The band’s goal is to raise $41,000 to offset the cost.

Johnson states that while it is a challenge, it is a goal that’s attainable. “We teach our students that with hard work and perseverance, there is nothing out of their reach,” he says. “This is a huge honor and we are working extremely hard to make this trip a reality for our students.”

Various fundraising efforts are ongoing; including selling snacks after school, carwashes-and an upcoming car wash/ fish fry.

The group has until the end of October to raise the rest of the money needed to make the trip, and is looking to residents in the community to help.

“We are extremely excited and proud to have been among the bands selected for inclusion in this parade,” said Johnson. “This event will afford our students the opportunity to say ‘thank you for serving’ to veterans while performing for thousands of spectators on the parade route and on television.”

Junior Kaitlyn Dumas has never been to New York, but the trip has a deeper meaning than seeing the sights of the celebrated city.

“My dad’s dad fought in the Vietnam War and my mom’s dad fought in the Korean War,” she says. “So it’s really nice to think that I’ll be doing this for them.”

Kurt Brunus, Assistant band director is more than pleased to see this trip come to fruition.

“We’ve been trying about three or four years before Mr. Johnson arrived; now we’re finally following up with it, come ‘hell or high water,’” he said. “We’re looking forward to bringing the girls to experience this.”

Ray Johnson believes the trip to New York can give the girls an opportunity to enjoy themselves, while taking part in something very meaningful and productive.

“There’s a sisterhood at the school,” he says. “It will be just like any other family trip, but we’re going perform a service. This will be viewed as something we did, not only for the veterans in our city, but veterans across the country.”

The New York City event features more than 25,000 participants, including veterans of all eras, active duty military, ROTC and JROTC units, civic and youth groups, along with top high school bands from around the country; which can be intimating to some, but not Kaitlyn Dumas.

“Performing isn’t really new to me; I’ve been performing since I was young kid-through dance and other things,” she told The Louisiana Weekly. “I do get a little nervous when I think about how many people there are in New York alone that will be watching; but it’s like a rush of excitement more than nerves. I’m looking forward to it.”

Those looking to make a donation to help the group make the trip to New York should call (504) 245-0200, or visit the school’s website:

This article originally published in the October 7, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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