Two local high schools are joining forces to march their bands all the way to New Orleans, LA to perform at Mardi Gras World and attend Jazz Fest. Orangeburg Wilkinson High School and Bethune-Bowman High School are taking the trip to showcase their talent, as well as experience the diverse culture of one of the most musically inclined places in the country.
Both high schools are award-winning bands and collectively have over 100 members. Michael McClain is the director of bands for Orangeburg Wilkinson’s Orange Pride Marching Band and said he has made it his personal mission to expose his students to different regions and cultures over the thirteen years he has been the director. He has taken students to Washington DC, the Bahamas, New York, Atlanta and other destinations to allow them to experience a new place that they may not have had the opportunity to otherwise.
“I know some of my students have not left outside of Orangeburg, and for some kids around here, going to Columbia is a trip, going to Charleston is a vacation,” said McClain. “When you can show them the world through music, you can show them the importance of music, you can show them how far music can take you.”
Bethune-Bowman High School Band Director John Moorer said he wants his students to go to New Orleans with McClain’s students to bring the two neighboring schools together for the journey. According to McClain, both schools do not have adequate funding and have rallied together to make the dream come true with multiple fundraising efforts. McClain and Moorer said they are both determined to provide more for their kids than just the bare minimum, even though both schools lack funding.
The two schools are working to raise funds for the trip so that every student has the opportunity to attend. The bands will set off to New Orleans on May 4th and spend three days there. Orangeburg Wilkinson High School is currently raising money for the trip and plans to continue with fundraisers until the time of departure.
“Probably soon after we do this fundraiser, we’re going to jump on another fundraiser, and just try to keep raising money so that parents themselves don’t have to exactly come out of pocket because I know money is hard,” said McClain. “In order to try to make things feasible and a little lighter in the pocket for parents, we do as many fundraisers as we can.”
Donations can be made through Fundraising University’s Fundunow represented by Casey Bramhall and Brandon Bacon. Visit app.fundraisingu.net/donate to donate, and select NOLA as the student name when making a donation.
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