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Westminster band invited to play in Pearl Harbor parade

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The Westminster High School marching band has performed in the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and Gov. Martin O'Malley's inauguration parade.

But the band has an opportunity that would trump those special appearances. It has been invited to participate in the 2013 Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade, Dec. 7, 2013, in Hawaii.

"It's a great honor to be asked to do this," said band member Rachel Seibel, a rising junior. "It's quite a big thing."

The band is one of eight invited to perform in the parade, one band per battleship moored at Pearl Harbor at the start of World War II. The band will represent the USS Maryland, which was damaged during the 1941 Japanese attack but was repaired and took part in several key battles during the war in the Pacific.

Band director Jennifer Jones said she was stunned when approached in December about the possibility of performing in Hawaii.

"Normally for marching bands, we get asked to do parades all the time. But they're more local, or at least on the Eastern seaboard," Jones said. "It's seldom that you get an offer for a trip that is not just intriguing, but is something that is memorable."

Jake Beckhardt, a clarinet player and rising senior, said a trip to Hawaii would be the biggest thing he has done in his life.

"I think it will be fun when I have kids, to tell them I got to go to Hawaii with my marching band when I was in high school," he said. "It'll just be really fun to look back on."

Before it becomes a reality, though, the band needs to raise approximately $150,000 by October to pay for students and their instruments to travel to Hawaii for the five days and four nights, according to Jones.

They've been working on fundraisers since December and are on pace to meet their goal, Jones said, but they still have a long way to go.

"We desperately need everyone's help to send our students there," she said.

Jones said donations can be mailed to the school. For information, email her at jajones@carrollk12.com.

Upcoming fundraisers include a Zumba fitness night Friday at the high school gymnasium, a craft fair and flea market June 22 at the school, and a quarters auction July 19 at the Westminster Fire Department.

The trip will cost each student $600 and band boosters plan to raise an additional $900 per student to cover the remaining expenses.

Jones said she expects 70 to 80 members of the 90-member marching band to make the trip. Parents and family members are paying their own way , she said.

While the band is in Hawaii, Jones said there are plans to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center and the USS Arizona Memorial.

In addition to playing in the parade, the band will perform with the other high school bands at a veterans cemetery. They will also be accompanied by a World War II veteran throughout their trip.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, literally," Jones said.

Elizabeth Strack, a junior in the color guard, said she is excited to experience a different culture. than what she is used to.

“It’s something that I’m always going to remember if we get to go,” she said.

Laura Chuck, a sophomore, said there’s no one she would rather go to Hawaii with than her bandmates.

“I’ll always remember what a privilege it was,” she said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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