BONNE TERRE — A group of North County students and parents are already looking forward to next summer.
That’s because about 90 members of the North County High School marching band, symphonic band and Silks have been invited to represent Missouri at the dedication of the National World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. The dedication will take place over Memorial Day weekend.
Nancy Pearce, president of North County Band Boosters, said the committee that is organizing the event selected one instrumental group and one vocal group from each state for the four-day event.
Dan Schunks, director of the high school band, received the invitation in May. Schunks said they were recommended because of their reputation and level of performance.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Schunks’ son, Nathan who is a member of the band. “I thought it was a joke my dad was playing on me.”
During a recent school board meeting, Schunks said it is an honor for the school and for the area. For those attending it will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Schunks told board members his father served in World War II. He believes it is time for World War II veterans to be recognized.
“It’s important that it be done and be done soon…,” he said, “so they can get appreciated in their lifetime.”
The marching band will perform in a parade along with some of the nation’s military bands and the symphonic band will perform a concert of patriotic pieces in front of visitors and governmental officials.
The four-day dedication will include a World War II-themed reunion exhibit on the National Mall, a memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral, and an entertainment salute to veterans from military performing units. The dedication will take place May 29.
Construction of the memorial began in September 2001 and is expected to wrap up in March. For more information about the memorial, visit http://wwiimemorial.com.
In addition to attending the dedication, a tour guide will lead students to different landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington Cemetery.
Jake Vogt, a sophomore, said he is excited about going. This will be his second time in Washington D.C.
“It’s great that the band gets to go,” he said.
Melissa Pearce is excited that they will be the only band from Missouri.
“I am really excited,” she said. “I can’t wait to go.”
Ask around and it seems the parents are more excited than the kids.
“The last two meetings of band boosters were the best as far as attendance,” Pearce said.
She thinks parents are more excited right now because the students are focused on this summer’s activities.
Only some parents will get to ride along with the band on the bus. The other parents who want to go will have to find their own transportation.
“One family is planning to take their vacation there,” Pearce said.
Another mother, Susan Weems, said her husband, mother and aunt plan to accompany her son to Washington D.C. Weems made a quilt for the students to sell to raise money for the trip.
“It’s going to be so awesome,” said Teresa Ingram, another mother. “I’m so excited.”
Ingram said her daughter, Hannah is also very excited.
“She can’t wait,” Ingram said.
But to get there, students will have to do a lot of fund-raising. Organizers estimate the trip will cost $600 per person — that’s about $60,000. That amount will cover their bus, motels, admission into tourist attractions and the cost of a tour guide.
Members of the bands and Band Boosters are selling refreshments and popcorn at the Chautauqua event to raise money for their trip. Pearce said the items they are selling have been donated from local businesses.
Members of the band will be selling refreshments tonight, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Several other fund-raisers are planned for later this year.
The group will have a booth at the Desloge Labor Day picnic Sept. 1. They will be selling candles.
The students will bag groceries for tips at Bonne Terre Country Mart Aug. 30 and Nov. 1. They will have a booth at the Sam Scism Pig Festival in September.
There will be a golf tournament at the Leadbelt Golf Club Sept. 21. To participate or be a sponsor, contact Kevin Pearce at 358-3324.
A pancake breakfast and a tailgate sale are tentatively scheduled for Oct. 4. A chili supper will be held in the commons area prior to the home football game Oct. 24. A dinner auction is being planned in November.
Donations are being accepted at First State Community Bank in Bonne Terre.
Pearce said they will be mailing letters out to all the veterans’ groups in the state asking them for support.
“I’m hoping other groups will be generous enough to help us in our endeavor,” she said.