"Students Head for National Competition"
Globe-Gazette photo by KELLI WENCL
Mason City High School choir students walk back to the choir room after dropping their luggage by the buses headed for Washington D.C. for their concert.
Friday, April 30, 1999
By JAN HORGEN,
Of The Globe-Gazette
BETWEEN MASON CITY AND WASHINGTON, D.C. - The buses pulled out right on time.
As the noon bell echoed inside the school, two charter buses laden with the 78-member Mason City High School Concert Choir, several chaperones and all the bulging baggage that would fit into storage compartments were rolling eastward, heading to one of the nation's toughest choir competitions.
The promise of an overnight, cross-country bus ride to Washington brought out enthusiasm that can only be mustered by teens.
Making her way up the aisles, junior Rosalie Ihde wavered under the weight of her duffel bag filled with "lots of food, lots of pop and all my CDs." It was a group project getting the bag into the overhead carrier.
And her older brother Ryan back in Mason City might be interested in knowing that his sister brought some of his music along, too.
As the bus pulled away from the high school parking lot, choir director Joel Everist said, "Next stop - Chicago." His words were punctuated by a round of applause and then Everist added, "and I have calculus tests for some of you."
Jon Feustel took time to leaf through the contest brochure, reading up on the competition that the choir will face at the National Invitational Choral Festival that begins Saturday in Washington.
He wasn't intimidated by all the awards, nor was Tyler Crosser.
Everist smiled that confident-without-arrogance smile that the director has tried to instill in his choir over the past year.
Abby Pierce took a nap through Wisconsin and part way through Illinois while her seat partner, Bobbi Engleman, looked over the bill of fare for the trip's first stop - the Medieval Times Restaurant in Chicago, where students and adults would eat a meal like no other.
"This is what we get - chicken, ribs, potatoes and desert ... and Mr. E. says no silverware to eat it with," Engleman said.
Shortly after 7 p.m., the entourage disembarked from the buses, went into the restaurant and found out that Everist and Engleman were right. There was chicken, ribs, potatoes and dessert ... and no silverware but there was one napkin per customer.
While they ate, the dinner theater put on a medieval play.
"This is the coolest thing I've ever seen, and it was very unexpected," senior Beth Walker said.
A couple of hour later, the Mason City contingent hopped back on the bus, their first trip experience behind them, and settled in for an overnight ride to the nation's capital.
The choir expects to arrive in Washington around 3 p.m. today, a few hours before putting in one last practice before the competition that is restricted to 28 choirs from the United States and Canada.
And the competition is not the only thing that awaits the Mason City contingent in Washington. The choir also expects to make the rounds of sightseeing stops in Washington.
But first, they had to make it through a long night on the road.
"We're all cramped in close quarters, but we get to know each other better," junior Christin Burt said.
- Jan Horgen is a Globe-Gazette reporter who will file daily stories, detailing the Mason City High School Concert Choir's experiences in Washington, D.C.
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