Lester B Pearson High School students going to the Big Apple

Published on Monday, 30 January 2012 in The Calgary Journal

A trip to NY is a rare chance for teens to see the fine arts at its ‘highest level’

NYthumbLester B. Pearson High School was closed due to the semester break but a group of 41 students had gathered in the school’s theatre none the less. They were excited and filled the room with energy — and for good reason.

They were planning their upcoming trip to New York in March.

Spearheading the trip are teachers Kathryn Riben and Joel Abrams, both are seasoned New York travellers. Riben remembers the experience as “the fine arts equivalent of a religious experience,” as Riben described it.

While school trips are common, it’s not very often that students get to experience a trip of this magnitude. The trip will include multiple Broadway shows and several backstage tours as well as sightseeing of all the major New York landmarks.

Although planning the trip was no easy endeavour, Riben thinks it was worth the effort.

“Abrams and I teach the music department, and both of us have been to New York just for trips by ourselves,” Riben said. “So we thought as an opportunity for our students to experience the highest level of the performing arts, we thought that’d be the place to take them.”

 Planning the trip

When it came to actually planning the trip, Riben went back to New York City again to get an idea of all the activities she wanted to do with her students.

“We spoke to our students to see who would be interested, and asked our tour provider, ‘What can you put together for us?’ and they’ve been fantastic,” Riben said.

After filling about 90 pages of paperwork and meeting with parents of the students interested in traveling, Riben and Abrams got ready to take their students to the big apple.

“It was momentous,” Riben said. “Until we had that final signature, we were always worried that it wouldn’t happen.”

NY2The teaching staff and painter Janell Bye are preparing for their trip to the Big Apple.
(From left to right) Joel Abrams, Kathryn Riben, Janell Bye, Mark Mason, Michelle Hornby, Shannon Lloyd.
Painting by Janell Bye.

Photo by: Jeff Medhurst

Getting the students ready

Now it’s matter of getting their students ready for the big trip.

The students themselves are the ones paying for the trip, which is no small charge. But Riben hasn’t completely left her students out to dry. Riben has given the students a few chances to fundraise money for the trip, but has left it to them to do it independently. Riben said that’s she done her best to make sure that even if they can’t fundraise that trip would still be affordable for students willing to work for it.

Shennia Shannon, Chantel Dixon and Caylie Kornelson, said they think it’s going to be worth the cost.

Shannon had to find a job and convince her father it would be a worthwhile investment, and Dixon and Kornelson poured hours into the paperwork for the trip to help smooth out the process.

Kornelson described it as, “It was a lot of homework. It’s not just fun. We’re all really dedicated towards this.”

Time and money well Spent

Despite the work that was involved in getting this trip together, teachers and students alike couldn’t be more excited.

“I’m excited to see the reaction of everybody else because I know what my reaction was and because I know when you see the lights of New York City for the first time, it’s one of those places that just doesn’t disappoint,” Riben said.

“There’s this café that Riben told me about where the waitresses sing to you, and I am really excited to go there,” Dixon said.

For Shannon it’s just simply going to New York. “I don’t think I could actually just choose one thing. There’s so much I want to do.”

“Now that we’re approved, the challenges are worth it because we can say ‘It’s okay. It’s worth it. We’re going to New York!'”

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