OUR VIEWS: Music trip is too ambitious

Oct 25, 2012


It’s a time when memories and experiences help shape our young people’s future. It’s a time when kids should be kids, and not be saddled with the financial pressures they will be faced with in their adult years. There is plenty of time for that later.

Studies are a large part of the experience, but there is so much more — athletics, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, relationships and getting your first car, just to name a few.

Many schools even provide students with the “opportunity of a lifetime” to participate in a school-sanctioned trip, oftentimes costing thousands of dollars. For example, the Grand Haven High School Chamber Choir and Symphony Orchestra are planning an ambitious trip that would take them to Carnegie Hall in New York City, then across Europe.

The projected cost? More than $3,000 per student.

We agree that this would be the trip of a lifetime — but on the other hand, it puts an undue burden on students and their parents to raise the necessary funds to participate. You’re not going to raise that kind of money collecting pop cans and washing cars. Even the most ambitious of fundraising efforts are sure to leave families scrambling to cover half the cost of the trip.

For those who aren’t able to come up with the necessary funding, what impact does it have on them, and how is that perceived among their peers whose families do have the means to support such a trip?

We feel that the harm it can cause would be significant.

There is a tremendous amount of pressure on parents to provide for their children, and this just adds to it.

Every parent wants to give their child every opportunity possible. But at a time when providing the basic needs seems insurmountable for some, we feel the additional pressures caused by these activities is unnecessary.

We applaud the leaders of our youth for teaching our children the concept of reaching for the stars, but we also suggest that we keep things in perspective and operate within realistic means.

A trip to Europe is a tremendous goal. But if it turns out to be too pricy, and fundraising efforts come up short, then perhaps a scaled-down trip would be more appropriate.
We’re sure those who can’t afford a trip across the Atlantic would greatly appreciate a chance to join their classmates and friends on a trip to Carnegie Hall that would certainly be remembered for a lifetime, without having to break the bank to get there.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.


Tri-cities realist

And wow Vlad, was that your first slap from the Tribune? I cannot begin to imagine the atrocity that you must have committed. Take it in stride, the perception of a little power can quickly go to their heads. Hopefully I won't be censored as well.


Let's try this - devoid of any "personal attacks." The reasoning, or lack of it, supporting this viewpoint is seriously flawed. Suppose some families can't afford the highest level of cable programming, which disadvantages kids who are unable to discuss play by play the game of the week on the NFL Network, the latest episode of “Homeland, or a great documentary on the History Channel?” Is the solution having every family subscribe only to basic cable, even if they can afford it? Is the answer to everything the equality of outcomes, and reducing everything to the lowest common denominator? And, as comments noted, families and kids knew about this for a year. Of the high school kids and their families that allegedly can't afford the trip, I wonder how many, over the course of the year, sought part time work ; how many purchased Iphones, Ipads, the latest 3G/4G networks, the highest level of internet speed, new sporting goods, new cars, designer clothes, went to restaurants and movies regularly, and then found that they can't afford the trip. We're talking a little over $8.00 a day, folks. Does anyone remember Aesop's fable - “The Ant and the Grasshopper?” I suspect very few of the kids today have been exposed to it at home or in school. Too Bad.


Thank you Grand Haven editorial staf for echoing what many parents have been saying. A New York trip would have been plenty large enough for our kids, and much more financially responsible.

I am a parent of a choir student that is part of this trip. First of all, the kids were told over a year ago, there would be little to no out of pocket expenses. Secondly, when (unsurprisingly) Mrs.lemon failed to get her "promised corporate sponsorship", parents were given payment plans....starting at $500 a month, scaling back to over $400 with hopes of future fundraising to help reduce our payments. So far, the last payment was only reduced by $30 for entire group fundraising. Several families have had to drop out...their hundreds of dollars not refunded.
You cannot communicate to parents that their trip will be made possible by fundraising, and hand them a payment schedule. Senior years are very costly, many of us are trying to scrape enough together for first semesters of college. This European whirlwind tour was Mrs. Lemon's dream, and as usual her narcissistic leadership has all the kids intimidated and families left to pony up...or go against the "choir family" and have our kids publicly humiliated by her in the choir room if they choose not to participate. She may have led our kids into excellence in singing, but at what cost? Oh yeah, $3200 plus any emotional damages over the years.


Given the information provided by rationalresident, a parent, regarding the initial information that out of pocket expenses would be minimal, the changing story about corporate donations, a payment schedule of $500 a month (hardly $8.00 a day), it is clear my comments were ill-advised. I withdraw my comments and apologize that I wrote them without knowing the facts as described by rationalresident.


[....Vladtheimp says
Given the information provided by rationalresident, a parent, regarding the initial information that out of pocket expenses would be minimal, the changing story about corporate donations, a payment schedule of $500 a month (hardly $8.00 a day), it is clear my comments were ill-advised. I withdraw my comments and apologize that I wrote them without knowing the facts...] Doesn't that last sentence describe the bulk of posts in these forums?


LOL. that about sums it up.


:) (That's meant as a compliment)

Tri-cities realist

$300 a month for a year would have covered the entire cost, so the payment plan must have been for a shorter period of time, or the math doesn't add up. I understand that amount could put a strain on many family budgets. However, I would also think that a determined student could easily earn $3200 during the summer, even by mowing lawns or babysitting.


Not sure which world you live in, but as a student I have an job and make no where near that much money over the summer! I also babysit on top of working and still wouldn't have enough money to afford this trip. I graduated last year, and I know the summer before my senior year I realized how much college was going to cost and this kind of money should be put away for college. Also they didn't tell the kids the actual cost of the trip for quite awhile- they kept telling them last year that there would be all of these fundraising opportunities last year and there definitely was not. I know that $300 doesn't sound like a ton, but some of those kids will have to pay for all of it themselves and I honestly have no idea how they would come up with that kind of money. You can only make so much selling cookie-dough and chocolate bars. I know this would be awesome, but the reality is that most of the 110 (probably more) students will not be able to afford this trip! They could have gone to NYC for under half the price, and NYC is still a pretty life changing event for these small town kids.


As a hard-working parent of two school-age children, I agree with the Tribune's stance on this issue. It's difficult at times to financially support my children while paying my unemployed ex-husband child support. Myself and children have come a long way, and are happy to sustain our basic needs and simply enjoy life without the "extras". As opportunities arise for my teenage daughter to go on special trips through school, it breaks my heart that we are financially unable to make it happen. It saddens me that my daughter is put in a position to feel uncomfortable, if not embarrassed, that her classmates' families can afford these trips while we cannot. It's one thing for a peer to go on an extravagant family trip and feel a tinge of jealousy, but it's quite another for the school to set a student up for financial dismay as part of a public school extra curricular activity, as the choir has done to numerous students this year. My daughter is in the public school band, and I am fortunate that the only investments we've had to make for this was a used flute and the cost to clean her uniform once per year. The public school programs allow families that are not blessed with large incomes to participate in the arts along with their peers. It's unfortunate when these public groups set unachievable goals. Yes, shoot for the moon, but if you can't financially make it, then shoot for someplace closer to home. For the students', parents', and community's sake.


Another thing, Lemon has been doing this for a while, and plenty of my friends still in choir are getting extremely guilt tripped in thinking that if they can not pay that they should go through the community asking for the money to pay for it. People have selfestems and pride that they should not beg. Before you go judging these students you should also know tha they are families around here living if not homeless, on not even enough money to afford to feed their families. Open your eyes before you judge. This is not only Lemon, but most of the music teachers think that only way you can get better is through private lessons, which cost $8 per half hour if not more. Lemon has a theory that if you can not do something public hummilty is the only thing to do. You should see and hear things she does in class the closer it is to concerts. Most of the time the students are humiliated and crying when they walk out. People with financial issues should not be put through that. That is a form of bullying and I believe that after the incident 2 years ago would change that, but it will not. I knew the student personally and he was a friend. So, before you back her theories up, stand back and look through the students perspectives.

Magic Mike

I could think of a lot better way to spend $330,000 in this community. It's too bad people in this town seem so entitled. Just think of how that money could be used to help a local charitable organization put food on the table. One family starves while a GHHS student takes a frivolous "trip of a lifetime" to Europe.

Just go to New York. For many underprivileged, that it also a "trip of a lifetime."




Hi, I'm a student who plays in the Grand Haven Symphony Orchestra. I will be participating on this Europe & NYC trip but with regrets. This trip costs TOO MUCH. I know we were offered it at an amazing discount rate and I know this opportunity is truly amazing but it really is too much.
These fundraisers that I have been working my butt off doing this summer has raised me no more than 5% of the money due.
My family is struggling financially as it is with two students in college and now me, going to this great, "trip of a lifetime." This money could be used towards more important, fulfilling things like my collage fund. I just feel so guilty using all this money up and I can't back out now because I can't be refunded the money I've already payed.
And that's really unfair. When I was offered the opportunity, I didn't know how stressful and guilt-filled this would be. I don't think the 3'000+ dollars is worth losing your ego begging for money, guilt trips from Lemon and Meyers, guilt trips from yourself, guilt trips from your parents and then a few fab moments in Europe.
I'd much rather travel to New York and ONLY New York than dragging my butt along the roadside picking up cans like a homeless person.
Merci beaucoup GH Tribune.


After reading the opinion of the tribune, with the trip being too ambitious, I would like to present another perspective. This trip is going to be life changing. It will open young hearts and minds to music in a way you cannot teach in a classroom. Music is the universal language. By being a part of this experience, this group of students will become more global, well-rounded adults in the future. I agree, times are tough economically. Everyone has a story. I am no exception, but what I do know is that I am so blessed to have my daughter as part of this trip. Without the ambitious nature of GHHS Orchestra and Choir, this trip would never have been attempted. I am so grateful, that the leaders of these two groups have come together and made it a reality. What we need now to help ensure all these kids involved will be able to participate in this amazing opportunity is to draw together as a community with positive support.


I too was a part of this group and it is amazing I love them all!! But last year I graduated and all of us seniors missed out on trip year because they decided to change it (2011-2012 was supposed to be the next trip year since they go every 3 years- the orchestra does anyway, usually to DIsney World). I know music is special, and I know that this is life changing. But would it really have been so hard as to keep the traditional year and maybe just make it to NYC or something? Europe is awesome, but the reality is this kind of money should be put off for college, trust me I know. And NYC, Chicago, or Disney World would have been just as life changing. Like I said, I know Europe is life changing, but why did it have to change so that it would only change the lives of these students and not others who were expecting to go somewhere their senior year?


Do you think that the fund raisers from last year were applied to this trip instead of being used for our senior trip?


No, I mean there weren't really any fundraisers last year, at least not that I was aware of. But the thing with our trip is that because it wasn't really an "orchestra related field trip" (aka it wasn't educational) the boasters couldn't pay for a ton but they were super nice and still gave us some money. Also, for the senior trip, things just fell through and no one ended up really fundraising. But like I said there were just the usual fundraisers they do every year. I just feel bad that the kids going on the Europe trip didn't have as many opportunities last year to raise money.


You kids did sell cheese cakes last year.


Sorry, that wasn't fair of me to say, I wasn't being very clear in my comment. We did sell cheesecakes, but we sell cheesecakes every year. I just think that some of the kid's thought that there would be more/new opportunities to fundraise during the school year last year, that's all.


You guys should have been afforded the opportunity to do something with your monies yourselves, like Chicago. I understand some did go to New York, but it was mostly out of your pockets. Fundraisers like that are supposed to be used for that school year and for something to benefit all. When I was in high school, we did fundraisers to cut down the cost of band camp for that summer. And, before anyone jumps down my throat, the seniors didn't participate because they weren't going to be involved.


Yes, but there were several reasons as to why the trip was out of our pockets. We knew that most of the money would come from our personal stash, so that influenced who could go. We could have done more if we had organized it- it was up to us. And before people freak out that it shouldn't have been up to us, we KNEW it was going to be...and there were MANY reasons why- it is late and I simply don't feel like listing them all.




anonanon , Mrs.Lemon would never say that, please do not create false rumors. We are one community and comments like that are not needed. You truly do not know the incredible woman she is if you would honestly believe a teacher would ever say that to a student. It's not the time or place to add more stress or lies to this conversation. As one community we need to come together to support everyones hopes and dreams not just select ones. These are children whose lives we are making an impact in. If you do not have anything nice to say then simply do not say anything at all. Let's help these children make this dream a reality they only deserve the best because they are the best. They essentially win at states every year, and that's something to truly celebrate.


Don't even give him/her the time. Obviously this is a student that either thought taking choir should be an easy "A", or wasn't willing to work hard so Mrs. Lemon would have been a little tougher on. It also sounds the same for the crowd their running around with. It's funny how people are taking shots at her. Yet, year in and year out over 200 kids are in her choir. With the state mandates these days, the kids really have to adjust their schedules if they want to be in choir, especially for four years. Then you have another person that feels "guilty" about going on here? Really? People need to feel sorry for the privileged soul! For everyone whining and crying about the cost, don't go. It's that simple. It's during the Summer. School is not involved. Maybe it's time to teach these kids that some people are more privileged. So be it. Deal with it. It's called life. If they never learn that valuable lesson, they will end up on Wall Street, in a tent, crying about privileged people instead of finding a job. The worst part of this is that I'm far from privileged, but I'm happy with my own life and could care less about what the rich are doing. What do you want? These people to not spend their money? I would rather they show off, spend their money. Spend a lot of it to help support the working community.


ASTUDENT - you should ask yourself...who's "dream" is this? Is it the student's, or is it Mrs. Lemon's?


Yes, this is the trip of a lifetime for these students. I was a member of the orchestra all through my high school career and graduated this past spring, and last year was supposed to be trip year. It has been tradition that every 3 years the orchestra goes on a trip, usually Disney World (which is much more affordable). We got cheated out of the chance of a lifetime because they decided to "randomly" post pone it one year. I helped lead my orchestra to get perfect scores at Festival as well, so why wasn't I "rewarded" for these. I know the past is the past, but please don't think for one minute that the whole community needs to send this group of kids to Europe. What makes this group so special that everyone who graduated last year couldn't be a part of it? I've heard the excuses, "to give kids more time to fundraise", "that's just how the timing worked out with reservations", I know them all. I was practically fed them last year. Just know that it is definitely not the community's responsibility to send these kids to Europe. A trip to NY to see Carnegie Hall would be much more affordable and still a trip of a lifetime, one that wouldn't make the community and the kids feel guilty for not going and not being able to help out financially. I am in no way upset I just want you and everyone else to know that as a former student, I believe that the Europe trip is unnecessary and a trip to NYC would do just fine.


Exactly. We worked our tails off day in and day out to get the scores we made and our reward was what, losing a senior trip? If it was not for our performance at state the orchestra and choir would have never been able to get in. Lemon has been trying to get the choir there for a long time and never got accepted, but then last year we blew the judges away at state in front of professionals and got the top score that led them the opportunity to go to Carnegie Hall. I am not mad about this, but for us to lose our trip, and the newbies getting it, that probably, without us, would not be where they are. Now how selfish does a group of teachers have to be, to not only screw over the group that worked the hardest and sacrificed lots of their time to get those score and not let them go, but to the students who can not go to guilt trip them, STEAL their money if they paid and will not give it back, and make them feel very low for not being able to afford it. I think that the community should not look up to those people at all. These parents of the students who can not afford it know what I mean, because the teachers told the students and parents that what they paid is not refundable. That is not right at all. Correct me if I a wrong, but if someone can not finish payments say on a smaller sized field trip can not go they get refunded, but on one this sized they can not, is that something that should be allowed at all?


Exactly! I know why it can't be refunded because they have already payed various places (hotels, travel agencies etc.) and cannot get their money back from them. BUT they should have realized in the first place how expensive this was going to be. And I'm sure it's not really a "group" of teachers. I know that most of the teachers probably got stuck doing this, and would have preferred it another way (aka how it used to be). And just so everyone knows, the seniors who graduated last year were not told until either sophomore or junior year that there wasn't going to be a trip in the 2011-2012 school year- I wished they would have told us sooner because not everyone decided to go on the trip in 2008-2009 because they all thought there was going to be another one. I know the teachers want to give these kids a good experience but you can give them a good experience by going to so many different places than to Europe, just saying.


I wonder what the school board has to say???



Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on GrandHavenTribune.com? Create a new account today to get started.