Round Lake High band, choir going to Disney World

Dreams have come true for the Round Lake High School band and choir to make a joint trip to Walt Disney World — the first since the district began suffering financial difficulties in 2001.

The three-day excursion to the theme park in Orlando, Florida will take place during winter break of the 2016-17 academic year.

Recently, the band and choir have traveled separately to places such as Nashville, Tennessee and Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. The groups haven't traveled together to Disney World since the 2000-01 academic year, around the time when district financial issues surfaced.

“Money became an issue,” said Christina Cacciatore, division chairwoman of social studies and fine arts. “Also, for many years, we used to only have one (combined) choir and band teacher.”

Cacciatore, Band Director Michael West, and Choir Director Bobby Olson, submitted the proposal to the Round Lake Area Unit District 116 school board for consideration. It was approved Monday by a 7 to 0 vote.

District 116 continues to make a comeback after contending with poor finances for several years. It was near financial collapse when the state took over the school system in 2002. A special state finance authority — not a local school board or superintendent — was in charge for eight years.

In January 2010, the state panel judged District 116's finances were healthy enough for the local board to resume control. As part of regaining local control, the school board hired Constance Collins as superintendent in 2010.

The district's financial rebound, along with new band and choir directors, made the Disney trip a possibility, officials said.

“The new directors are very active in pursuing opportunities like this for our students,” District 116 spokeswoman Heather Bennett said. “So I'm sure there will be more in the future.”

The trip will be open to any student in the school's seven bands, including the concert, symphonic, and marching bands, and the four choirs, including the women's ensemble and the Panther Voices. In Orlando, students will perform and attend a performing arts workshop.

“It will help get Round Lake High School's name out nationally in a positive way,” Cacciatore said. “It will also help get students out performing in different venues.”

According to the proposal, if 50 or more students attend, the cost will be $750 per student. Cacciatore expects around 200 students to sign up.

Fundraising opportunities, ranging from carwashes to bake sales, will be available for students in need of financial assistance. This fall, students can register for the trip and sign up for payment plans.

“That's why we started so early,” Cacciatore said. “A student can fundraise the full amount if they are motivated to.”

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