Band Trip-Barbara Deloach

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 11, 2012

Guest column by Barbara Gleeton-Deloach

Band trip chaperone says she would do it again

The South Panola Tiger Band was off to Washington, DC with a Granny in tow! Traveling with my old high school was a wonderful treat. The students are not much different than we were back in 1973 when I was senior at SP.

Now it has been almost 40 years and rather than travel as a student I was traveling as the grandparent. I could feel excitement in the air as I turned the corner in front of SP. Children with large suit cases, some saying goodbye to parents and grandparents there to see them off. Among those parents and grandparents were familiar faces, cousins and old friends among them, seeing a grandchild off. I even saw old classmates. Wow! How time flies.

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Many parents traveled as chaperones. I looked around and realized the parents were my son’s age. That meant young enough to be my own children!

Just as I started to sink into “what have I gotten myself into,” the band director, Ms. Linda Davis, stood in the center of the room and the students became very quiet.  She gave them instructions. Next it was the chaperones’ turn to get instructions. I realized right away this lady was in command. The respect her students showed for her was evident and amazing.

We loaded onto two charter buses. These Tiger Band members would converge upon Washington D.C.; some were traveling for the first time. Their enthusiasm was refreshing. Also refreshing was how softly yet firmly the band director and other staff spoke to them and how they always received respectful responses.

A tight schedule awaited. I wondered how we would cover it all. Take a look at our itinerary:

First day: Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, Korean War Memorial, White House, Jefferson Memorial, Embassy Row and the FBI Building. They did not miss an activity. Led by Ms Davis, the band staff and an excellent tour guide, they remained attentive.  

That first day the South Panola Band participated in a wreath laying. They were provided a beautiful wreath bearing flowers and a beautiful ribbon sash with “South Panola High School” printed on it. Five students laid the wreath in front of the Mississippi Column outside the Jefferson Memorial while the rest of the students stood quietly and proudly in support.

These columns represented each state in the United States as they joined the union.  All of us Mississippians shared a proud moment.

Second day: Supreme Court Building, Bureau of Archives, Post Office Pavilion, and tour of White House.

The trip to the White House was a very exciting time for the students. I could only smile and whisper a prayer of thankfulness when I saw a girl crying because she said she never thought she would have that opportunity. Her dream had come true.

We visited Arlington National Cemetery for the afternoon including the Eternal Flame. They were solemn at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watching the changing of the guard. I watched as some searched the Vietnam Memorial Wall for relatives. This group was amazing.

Third day: Absent our wonderful tour guide, Ms. Davis and her staff led the way. The students never missed beat. They stayed together. When we did split up the chaperones were on top of their jobs. We always reunited at our designated places and on time. We toured the U.S. Capitol, National Mall – the Famous Smithsonian Museums, the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of American History, the Natural History Museum, the National Art Gallery, the Native American Museum, the Martin Luther King Memorial, the 911 Memorial at the Pentagon and then shopped at the Pentagon Mall.

The 911 Memorial was a touching time for the students. This was something they could really identify with. I spoke with one when I saw him sit alone on one of the benches for a long period of time. I shared with him that this memorializes the time in our lives that changed the way we live, the way we travel, the way we do everything in our country. — why we cannot take a backpack with snacks into the Capitol anymore and why you have to be searched to go in to the U.S. Post office in D.C. Someone hurt our country in a bad way.

I told him that this memorial serves to remember those who died on 9-11 but also a reminder that in the United States of America, this must never happen again.

Fourth Day: Off to Williamsburg-Busch Gardens — the Tigers were ready to perform. I was so proud. We arrived at the gates of Busch Gardens only to learn that the SP Band performance had been cancelled due to rain and that storms expected late in the evening. They were supposed to perform and then spend the entire day in Busch Gardens. They were all suited up in black and white dress clothes with no place to play.

Just as their young hearts began to sink, Ms. Davis stepped upon the bus and very softly explained what had happened. Then every heart leapt with joy when she said, “So, I’m going to give each of you rain gear and we are going to go on into Busch Gardens and enjoy our day just as we planned.”

What a day! I remembered that old song “walking in the rain with the one I love”… .  Granny loved every minute of the day; walking in Busch Gardens and watching those young people as they made memories in a great and educational way.

It was a great trip and the young people were awesome. They truly represented our state, our city and our school in a very positive way.

Would I do this again? Yes I  would!