GROTON — It was an emotional send off, one of tears of joy as parents and friends waved American flags to students on their way to a once-in-a-lifetime adventure — to sing at the 2012 London Olympics.
On Aug. 1, the 30-member Groton-Dunstable Regional High School Chamber Chorus of juniors, seniors and recent graduates, along with chaperones, boarded a bus for Logan Airport, courtesy of Buckingham Bus Co. They would fly to London, having been chosen to perform at many venues throughout the week — Weymouth Bayside Festival, Mayor of London’s celebration at Victoria Park, Peninsula Festival in Greenwich, Southwark Cathedral in London and Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury.
The seven-day trip was scheduled with sightseeing of London’s landmarks, included the Tower of London to view the crown jewels and a visit to the ancient site of Stonehenge in Wiltshire.
The high school’s foyer was lined with suitcases as students, families and community friends gathered at the high school before embarking on their trip. Everyone gathered in the cafeteria for pizza, laughter and hugs, while Richard Arena, dean of students and chaperone, called out names and checked passports.
Laura Pollard, chaperone, said all the students were excited and it was just amazing that out of all the schools in the country, the Groton-Dunstable chorus was chosen. “I’m so excited to be going to London!” said her daughter, Haley, a recent graduate.
The GDRHS Chamber Chorus has placed first in regional competitions each year for the past three years under director Tim Savoy, who received the invitation to perform during the London Olympics last fall.
Brooke Ainwick couldn’t believe the day had finally arrived, saying, “It’s unbelievable, surreal.”
The chorus has performed throughout the year at school concerts, fundraisers, graduation and the Pages for Peace Big Book unveiling in June. If anyone has heard them perform, it’s easy to understand why they were invited to London. “It brings a tear to your eye when you hear them sing,” Pollard said.
Anthony Bent, newly appointed superintendent to the school district, expressed pride in the students’ accomplishment and wished them well. “It’s a great learning experience. London will enjoy listening to our beautiful singing kids.”
“I’m so excited, it’s such an honor to represent the country this way,” chaperone Meg Preston said. “It’s so awesome and they’ve added some events — we’ll be taking a ride on the London Eye (a giant Ferris wheel situated near the River Thames) and attending an Olympic event, the women’s soccer semi-final.
Her son, Greg, a junior and Chamber Chorus member said that he was “super duper excited for the Olympics.”
“We are overwhelmed and appreciative by the support from the community, the Girl Scouts, Buckingham Bus Co. and all those who volunteered their services,” GDRHS Principal Michael Mastrullo said.
Groton Girl Scouts Troop 66508 prepared patriotic goodie bags filled with gum, cookies and homemade cards for everyone to take along on the trip. Corrine Moyle and Jean Temple, members of the Groton Elders, came to see the students off.
For many students, it is their first trip outside of the United States and the excitement mixed with anxiety showed on their faces as they mingled with each other.
“It’s absolutely overwhelming,” recent graduate Timmy Grove said. “I’ve never been overseas and I’m pretty sure I won’t want to leave.”
It’s senior Caroline Cocossa’s first trip, too. “I’m going to London,” she exulted. “It’s super exciting…a chance to sing at a venue as big as this one and in front of the mayor of London … I’m so excited!”
Under Savoy’s direction, the students have practiced 15 songs to perfection for their performances in London.
“I’m so proud of them because of the music connection,” said teacher and musician Tammy Reynolds. “The music program is so unbelievable and Tim makes them sound great together.”
The students spent the summer rehearsing, four days a week, two hours a day. The last few days were filled with excitement and panic for Savoy, who said he was psyched, ready to go.
“Obviously this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; how many high school choruses get to perform in front of the world? It’s something we’ll remember forever,” he said.
The Crocker family was at the high school to wish their daughter Emily farewell. “It’s exciting; I’m never going to have a chance like this again,” said Emily. Her mother Pam said it was impossible to put into words what the chorus has accomplished.
The students and the commuity raised $130,000 to make this dream become a reality. The many hours of practice paid off and it was exciting that the day had finally arrived.
“It’s time for the kids to have some fun,” Mastrullo said.
Check out www.gdchamber2012.com for up to date photos and video from London.