JHS musicians take on the Big Apple


Hannah Preston, Staff Writer

New York

This past week, Jacksonville High School’s very own music department embarked on the trip they do every four years.  The destination?  The Big Apple.

Compared to previous trips that have ranged from Toronto to Disney World, New York City was selected on a basis of music-centered activities.  The itinerary was packed with events and sprinkled with sightseeing destinations like Chinatown and the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, from Broadway workshops to seeing Les Miserables on Broadway itself.  From this rapid snapshot of the City that Never Sleeps, music students were able to form ideas about what it would be like to pursue music past high school and maybe even as a career.

As part of the orchestra, sophomore Sarah Miner found the experience to be quite eye-opening.  “I wanted to go to New York to see a big city instead of a small town like Jacksonville.  Also I wanted to see what it would be like to pursue music and work in New York,” she said.  “I also really wanted to see all the famous buildings and things New York had to offer.”

New York trip

Going into the week, the group of over seventy students was energized and ready to conquer the city, but after three long days on the East Coast followed by the twenty-hour bus ride home, everyone was exhausted and ready to crawl under the covers of their own beds.  When asked for a rating of how tired she was on a scale from one to ten, senior Megan Heitbrink replied with a firm eleven.  “It’s been a crazy couple of days.”

Still, there were many things that students were upset they were not able to accomplish while in the city.  Even though the tour touched briefly on the Lincoln Center, scheduling conflicts prevented students from seeing everything there was to see.  Heitbrink had a personal connection with this.  “I regret not being able to go inside the Metropolitan Opera.  It would have been cool to see.”

Many students were upset at the quick succession of events, and the fact that the trip only lasted for two hotel nights meant cramming lots of sights into only a matter of hours.  “The biggest thing I regret not doing in New York was being able to spend more time at each specific thing.  I would love to go back and spend more time in Times Square and other places like that,” said Miner.


Junior Caleb Holaway agreed.  “I regret not being able to spend a little bit more time in Times Square.”  After all, a total of a little under an hour is not nearly enough to explore all that the major tourism hub has to offer.

Despite the few upsets that occurred with scheduling, the week went off without a hitch.  Seventy people is not an easy number to keep track of in New York City, yet no one got lost, and many unforgettable memories were made.

For many, this trip meant exploring a new city with friends or a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience performing in such a grand setting.  “My favorite part of the trip was Les Miserables.  It’s Broadway!”  Holaway exclaimed.  “The emotion oozed out of Javier and Jean Valjean—it was like that oozy-gooey butter cake that you put a fork in and it’s like all over the place.  And the pit was astounding.”

Les Mis on Broadway

Another popular motivation was getting a special look at daily life in a place crawling with celebrities and their pampered pooches.  “My favorite part of New York was seeing all the famous locations where famous people have been or movies have been filmed,” said Miner.  “Whether it was Lincoln Center or Central Park, it has a special value to New York.”

For others, especially the ones in the senior class, the trip was a reflection upon the limited time before we leave Jacksonville and go our separate ways.  “This was my first time in New York, and I was really happy that I got to do it will all of these people and be able to experience it all together,” commented Heitbrink.  “I think it meant a whole lot more now that we’re seniors and will be heading in different directions in a matter of months.”

Ending the final night in the city with a visit to the Empire State Building added a certain romantic effect to the trip as a whole.  In spite of my crippling fear of heights, I traveled with the whole group up eighty-six floors (on the fastest elevator I’ve ever ridden in my life) to the observation deck.  The wind was incredibly strong, but the view was breathtaking.  The lights of the city that we had come to know spread out beneath us for as far as we could see.

Empire State Building

Touring New York City with my fellow musicians was a unique opportunity that I’ll always remember.  No matter where our lives take us—perhaps some back to the city—we will carry those sights and sounds with us for the rest of our lives.  After all, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere!