FHC Band takes on Walt Disney World

School field trips seem to be a highlight of the high school experience for most students. Starting on Feb. 2, senior Jadelin Hinkel and the rest of the FHC Band will be experiencing one of these highlights at Walt Disney World in Florida. 

Excited to hang out with friends and hang loose for a little bit, Jadelin is ready to have some fun and experience this opportunity that comes once every four years. 

“I’m excited to hang out with my friends,” Jadelin said.  “We are also performing in the Disney parade. I’ve had the anticipation [of going] since I’ve been hearing about this trip since my freshman year, due to the fact [that the band] only goes on this trip once every four years. Not to mention, just being allowed to go on this huge trip is very exciting since COVID-19 made everything so uncertain.”

Such amazing opportunities like this allow the band to utilize their skills, performing in front of a bigger audience than at school football games. Jadelin is part of the drumline and will be marching and performing a few songs as well.

However, it’s not all about the music; all the students get to experience several parks while they’re there—a new one each day. 

“In the Disney parade, we’ll be doing our cadences that the drumline plays,” Jadelin said. “We’ll do horn movements while also playing one of our old show songs, “Mandalorian,” from our marching show and playing FHC’s fight song. When we aren’t doing that, the rest of the day, we have access to a park every day, and they are letting us go on rides in the park.” 

As a senior, waiting for this trip feels like forever, but Jadelin wasn’t the only student looking forward to this experience. Senior Logan Verlinde has also been building anticipation.

Making new friendships through the FHC band, he’s always enjoyed the family feel of the program. Logan has grown to love performing for others, and an opportunity like this screams his name. 

“I really like the family aspect,” Logan said. “I’ve made some of my closest friends through the band. I also love performing for people, as well as making music. I am most excited to go to Disney World with the fellas. I’ve never been to Disney World, and I look forward to going with some of my best friends.” 

Having the honor to be part of such a band, Logan will also be leading his fellow classmates, along with senior Jack VanderVeen, through the streets of Disney.

The FHC band has been practicing for this trip for quite a while—since the beginning of marching season. 

“I will be leading the band, with Jack VanderVeen as a drum major, in a parade down the main street,” Logan said. “We spent the entire marching season learning the music that we will be performing on the trip, and we had a rehearsal on January 28 to practice marching for the parade.” 

As FHC isn’t going to send its students alone to Disney, they have John DeStefano tagging along with them. This year will mark DeStefano’s sixth year going on this trip, and as a former FHC band director and current assistant principal, DeStefano is hoping that students take in a musical experience from this trip. 

“For me, to have the kids be able to get to Disney and experience the clinic they are going to experience, along with the playing in the parade down Main Street, is something we can’t emulate anywhere here [at FHC],” DeStefano said. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience for them.” 

Not only does DeStefano want to watch the students succeed in this small adventure, but he also hopes they take away new skills from this. 

“I think it gives them a new perspective,” DeStefano said. “I know that students could say, ‘Yeah, I do this at the high school level, but I can do this for the rest of my life if I choose to.’ Our goal is to make kids be lifelong musicians if they want to be.” 

We spent the entire marching season learning the music that we will be performing on the trip…

— Logan Verlinde

The band program doesn’t just strive to shape the students at FHC, but they are continuing to help students grow as people and as musicians, and seeing music in this different setting might be just what they need.  

Although the chaperones and seniors are excited, underclassmen are just as ready to take on this journey. Sophomore Millie Alt has come to appreciate the band and is taking on her first band trip with honor, as it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

“I love the band community,” Millie said. “Everyone is so supportive and fun to be around. We always have a great time, whether we’re in class, at a concert, or at a football game. Marching band is especially fun because there is a huge community aspect, and your section becomes a family through shared experiences. I have so many good memories from the band.” 

Each person going to Disney will create stronger friendships and witness a new perspective on music, on top of getting to a room with some of their close friends. As for the “vacation” part of it, Millie and others will be visiting three different parks and experiencing a workshop together. 

“We get to go to Universal Studios, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios and enjoy the parks, which will be very fun,” Millie said. “I am excited for the Harry Potter World in Universal Studios. We also play in a parade in Magic Kingdom and attend a workshop in Hollywood Studios.”

Altogether, the ultimate goal of going to Disney is to hopefully spread the FHC band’s musical talent in Florida and shift their perspectives to a broader look at music and friendships. 

As DeStefano walks through the parks and listens to the band play throughout the next few days, he hopes that the students will come back with a new understanding of what they do. 

“Every time I’ve come back, I’ve had kids come up to me and say, ‘Now I understand how special it is to do what I do,’ ” DeStefano said, “whether it’s sing or play an instrument, because you can do it for the rest of your life at whatever level you choose.”