More than 400 members of the Vandegrift High School band and dance teams will spend their spring break in Hawaii this year on one of the largest school trips the Leander school district has ever had.
The Vipers have been invited to perform March 10 in Honolulu as part of an ongoing commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. The trip will be the largest ever for the school.
Scheduled to go are 377 students from the Viper Band and Vision Dance Company, choir and Legacies Dance Team, with about 30 staff members and chaperones. Students had to cover the $2,400 cost per person on their own, but they could make multiple payments over time.
“We’ve been wanting to do something as a fine arts unit together for a while,” said the band’s director, Mike Howard. “The Pearl Harbor performance is the perfect opportunity and a very high honor.”
Howard said several years of successful travel by the different groups within the fine arts department have provided them the opportunity and privilege of taking a trip of this size.
The Legacies Dance Team has performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the McDonald’s Parade in Chicago. The Viper Band and Vision have numerous honors, including University Interscholastic League state marching championships as well as finishing as finalists.
For one Viper, this will not be the first time performing in Hawaii.
Ashley Bonner, assistant director of the Legacies, performed at the 70th Pearl Harbor Commemoration Event in 2012 as a member of the Kilgore College Rangerettes.
“I’m super excited to take my girls back and share that amazing experience with them,” Bonner said. “Our high school is based on military heritage and was named after Marine Corps 1st Lt. Matthew Ryan Vandegrift. I want my team to see the history at Pearl Harbor.”
After the performance, students will spend a few days exploring Honolulu and the rest of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, snorkeling and enjoying Waikiki Beach. A special outing planned for seniors includes hiking and shopping in the North Shore community of Haleiwa.
Band parent Jenny Rosas will make the trip as a chaperone.
“I’m very excited, because this is my son’s and my first time going to Hawaii,” Rosas said.
She said planning for the trip began more than a year ago when the education department at the Battleship Missouri Memorial reached out to Vandegrift. She said this is a great honor for a school that’s been around only since 2009, a year after the Marine for whom the school was named was killed in Iraq.
Video of the 45-minute performance will be streamed live on the web for friends and family back home to watch. Some of the songs played will include the national anthem and “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”
“Each organization of the fine arts department will be presented with a flag from Pearl Harbor to bring back to Austin,” Rosas said. “Also, a wreath decorated with the Vandegrift High logo will be placed on the USS Arizona Memorial.”