By Curt Yeomans
This year's seniors in Forest Park High School's orchestra program have been asking their director, Sean Terrell, to put them in an out-of-state music festival for years.
The orchestra has performed for senior citizens, put on about five concerts a year at the school, and participated in one music festival two years ago at Six Flags, since Terrell has been its director.
This year, the seniors got their wish. They are scheduled to participate in the Star Music Festival, April 16-18, 2010, at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla.
Forest Park High School senior, Jamila Watts, 17, a violin player in the chamber orchestra, said she is looking forward to the trip.
"I'm really excited about this, because we've been asking for this for years, and now, it's finally happening," Watts said. "I'm excited about just being matched up against other orchestras from around the country, to see how we'll match up. I think we'll do pretty good."
The issue now facing the group is how to get the $25,000 Terrell says is needed to send all 82 students, plus chaperones, to Orlando.
"They haven't competed outside of this state before," Terrell said. "We have 23 seniors in the orchestra this year. It's as much an opportunity for them to go outside the state to perform, as it is a bonding opportunity ... Some of our seniors have opted to not go on the school's senior trip, so they can go on this trip."
The first fund-raising try comes on Saturday when the orchestra's parent booster club will host a yard sale and car wash from 8 a.m., to 1 p.m., in the parking lot of the school, located at 5452 Phillips Drive, in Forest Park.
Chick-fil-A sandwiches will also be sold at the event as part of the fund-raiser, Terrell said.
The orchestra director said the items donated by parents for sale at the event range from clothing and toys, to a bed and exercise equipment. The goal is to raise at least $4,000 during the event.
"If we can raise that much money, we would be able to pay for eight trips, which would be huge," Terrell said.
The $500 per person cost to send the orchestra to Florida includes round-trip bus fare, meals, admission to local theme parks, the per-person entry fee for the festival, and hotel rooms for two nights, Terrell said.
Other fund-raising events include the sale of chocolate bars, a concert at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center in November, and sales of CDs of that performance, Terrell said.
Booster Club Secretary and Fund-raising Committee Co-Chairperson Denese Sampson could not be reached Thursday for comment.
Terrell said the full orchestra program at Forest Park is made up of three smaller groups, the concert orchestra, the symphony orchestra and the chamber orchestra.
He said the three groups will perform together in a 25-minute program during the music festival. The rehearsal schedule will move from three days a week to five days a week in November, he said.s
String bass performer, Quadarius Chapman, 15, a sophomore in the chamber orchestra, said he, too, is excited about the opportunity to perform in Orlando. "I'm excited because this will be my first time performing outside of this state," he said