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Park Rapids Area High School choir students pose for a photo at the Alamo during their trip to Texas last month. (Submitted photo)

Park Rapids Area High School choir travels to Texas

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Park Rapids Area High School choirs took a trip to Corpus Christi, Texas in March.

Choir director LouAnn Dierkhising recalled their trip and asked students for some of their favorite memories.

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“Corpus Christi was my first time at the ocean and it was beautiful,” said student Sam Harshman.

The choirs first toured the USS Lexington, a World War II shipped that was docked only a couple of blocks from the hotel.

“The USS Lexington was a great experience. We learned about the history of the ship and some of its legends,” said Alex Boyd.

After touring the USS Lexington, the choir grabbed sub sandwiches and headed to Mustang Island State Park, a favorite experience for many. The sand was soft, the seagulls were hungry, the water was cold and the waves were amazing. After picking up some sunburn – in a short time – they headed further up the island to Port Aransas where they boarded a dolphin watch cruise.

“On the dolphin cruise we learned about ocean life and different sea creatures,” said Justine Rittgers. “We also saw dolphins which was amazing.”

“The dolphin watch was beautiful. I had never seen the ocean before so touring it was amazing,” Tiffany Hansen said.

Before leaving the hotel, the choirs sang for the staff. The manager complimented the students on their respectful behavior and invited them to come back at any time. The choirs then spent the morning in the marina area of Corpus Christi, walking and inline skating on the Bay Trail.

“I realized how cold Minnesota was when we are all in shorts and t-shirts while those around us were in jeans and sweatshirts,” said Lindsey Girtz.

The choir had lunch at a Golden Corral, which was a hit with the students. They then headed to the San Antonio area to the Natural Bridge Caverns.

“The caves were by far one of the coolest parts of the trip. They were hot and humid and there was water everywhere,” said Kurt Fritze.

Following the caves was a hotel check-in and a meal and great time at the Incredible Pizza Factory.

Friday morning started with a visit to downtown San Antonio to the Alamo, the Alamo grounds and the beautiful Riverwalk. Many of the students remarked on the many shops and restaurants on the Riverwalk.

The Worldstrides Heritage National Choral Competition was held that afternoon and evening. The performance site was the Sacred Heart Chapel on the grounds of the Lady of the Lakes University, San Antonio.

“The church we sang in was breathtakingly beautiful,” said Tiffany Hansen.

Three choirs. Three golds. One epic experience,” added Lydia Christensen.

After the competition the choirs went for a late supper at the Hard Rock Café, including a dance party to YMCA.

Saturday morning was spent with a visit to the Market Square. The Market Square was memorable for the students. It was full of brightly colored items including bags, sculptures and ponchos.

The remainder of the day was spent at Six Flags. The roller coaster rides were the big hit of the afternoon. The evening meal was a dinner that all of the competition students and groups attended followed by the awards ceremony.

Three choirs from Park Rapids competed and were given awards at the evening dinner and ceremony – the Women’s Choir, the Concert Choir and the Chamber Singers. The groups were adjudicated by three college music directors from various colleges. All three judges gave gold ratings to each of the choirs, with overall gold rating given to each choir.

A strength that was noted on the judging sheets many times was the quality and warmth of the choral tones of all three choirs. The Park Rapids choir program was also honored with the “Spirit of San Antonio” award. This award is given to the program which best represents their school, community and state.

Zach Tretbar was also given a “Maestro” award for his solo on an African piece performed by the Concert Choir.

After this full day, the choir had a stop at a Cold Stone and started home.

“Overall the trip was amazing. The memories made are unforgettable. I could not ask for a better way to cap off senior year,” said Mady Vaudrin.

The choirs would like to say thank you to everyone who supported their efforts to attend the national competition and tour to Texas. They give a special thank you to chaperones Kathy Pilgrim and Jeremy Anderson, and also to Roz Pederson and Deane Johnson who were chaperones and also accompanists and tour artists.

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