Students in Palatine High School's choir program had a chance to escape chilly Chicago weather during spring break and have the time of their lives performing and exploring culture in Hawaii's tropical climate.
Sixty choir students spent five days in Oahu, Hawaii, performing at various locations and sightseeing during their downtime.
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"For many of the students, it was a huge first experience. Some of them have never been on a plane before," said Steven Sivak, choir director at Palatine High School. "Not only were they perfectly behaved, but they also sang their hearts out on a daily basis."
The group performed in front of different audiences and experienced Hawaiian culture and art. At the suggestion of their flight attendant crews, they sang during their flights to and from Hawaii. Their scheduled and impromptu performances included the Waikiki Hard Rock Café, an advertised concert at the Waikiki Beach Walk, the Polynesian Cultural Center and Pearl Harbor.
The group also sang at the 'Iolani Palace as a gift offering to the Hawaiian people, where tradition was for large groups to offer a gift to the king and queen, who would either accept or deny the offering. To keep the tradition alive, Hawaiian people at the palace responded back to the choir in song to accept their gift and show their approval.
The impromptu performance at the Polynesian Cultural Center took place after employees discovered the choir was there, and Sivak said the performance had crowds cheering.
"Many of the students mentioned that their favorite part of the trip was at the cultural center," Sivak said. "Witnessing the culture and participating in things like making items out of palm fronds, tasting different foods, experiencing a luau party and seeing things very different from what they know was great for them."
During the performance at Pearl Harbor, Sivak said the tone was serious but also very moving. The choir had an opportunity to explore Pearl Harbor and watch a movie about it, which he said added emotion to their performance. Wreathes were placed at the memorial site on behalf of Palatine High School, and students dropped flowers from leis at the site to honor those who lost their lives in World War II.
Sivak said an honor share the trip with his students. "It was an incredible experience and one that will remain in our memories for a long time to come."