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.


CHUCK the famou...

Hey folks. This is chuck, better known outside the choir family as Mike Woodby, also the guy that works at jumpin java, and whatnot. I would just love to let everyone know that Jack, the most glorious second bass in the world, is indeed as his name portrays. I would also like to say that jack is also known as the voice of reason. So in agreement, with what jack said, Go GH choirs, go europe trip, go mrs. lemon (ahem favorite teacher), go tribune people for doing their job, go everone that has so far comented positively, kind of go everyone who didnt because we still liked hearing your opinion, go choir kids, the ones who could go and the ones we couldnt, I love them all, and go everyone who supports us amd helps us, including the Moss Boss, and our groovy student teacher ms Benson, and the choir boosters, and the whole community of Grand Haven. Youre all my favorite. We love positive vibes. Go World! Ok thats my positive rant, have a nice life, we love GHHS choirs! Woop woop!


Thank you Tribune staff for running this story. I commend you! I agree that it was too ambitious, not enough students and their parents truly had their thoughts, concerns, prices, etc ironed out up front. A day trip or even the Carnegie Hall would have been just fine and afforded everyone the opportunity to attend. Instead there are students and parents who all are finding this a truly unbearable, expensive burden that when backing out, their monies aren't being returned. You have also afforded some pent-up feelings towards the choir director to "come out of the closet" and gave an opening for other parents, along with students if they aren't too afraid, to monitor what goes on in the classroom.
What happened to my children in these classrooms truly did happen. What happened to their friends truly did happen. She might conduct some great choirs but what happens behind the scenes in the classroom are issues as well.


I was very involved in the choir program throughout 4 years. I was in every choir. Throughout those four years Mrs. Lemon and I went through many good and bad times! Some days I would agree with half of you (mostly in the beginning of my high school career) in that I thought Mrs. Lemon was a bully. I had my own experience coming out of her office crying. I had been embarrassed in front of the choir. I had also endured her numerous guilt trips to the choir. But as I went through the years and spent 2 years in ensemble I watched her give her entire life to the program. She would spend her days, nights and weekends with us! She would truly mother us. I think this is the problem that people have with Mrs. Lemon. She acts as a mom to all of her students. This may sound completely sappy but I believe that Mrs. Lemon loves all of her students. I mean, she greeted us every morning at the door with a hug! We would talk about our lives with her every day before class! Mothers cherish their children. They love to see them be the best they can be. However, mothers also scold their children. So, yes, Mrs. Lemon does guilt/scold her students there is no doubt about that. But, I believe it is all in good intention. She has high expectations for her choirs and each individual student. Personally, I really enjoyed that style of teaching. It was very personal and pushed me! Others, clearly did not. Some students just don't click with some teaching styles.
Now, this Europe trip is definitely a huge project. My brother and father are going so I have been hearing a lot about it. I think it possibly could have been scaled down to just Ensemble so that the fundraising cost wouldn't be so high. But let Mrs. Lemon go out with a bang. She really does deserve it. And whoever wants to join her, good for them!

Megan MacLeod

Perfect Human Being Award goes to you, my friend.


dream on.


Student, I agree with the upper part of your post. My exception comes in that no teacher in her right mind has the right to chastise a student "for the good of the choir family," condemning them in front of other students because they cannot make an evening rehersal since they have no transportation to get to said rehersal since their parent MUST WORK TO SUPPORT THE FAMILY!! The student, my child, lived way out in the sticks, none of the choir members lived near us and my child was guilt-tripped to no end for DAYS by her. THAT WOULD NOT HAPPEN BY ANY GOOD PARENT!! That is NOT a scolding of good intentions to lay a guilt trip on a student over a parent's job. She doesn't deserve this trip. She should have been fired years ago when the complaint was made about this and the other comments. Her bang should have been fired for bullying. This is totally disgusting.


Another thing that I learned about Mrs. Lemon is that she is very big on communication. Many times students don't have transportation to events and rehearsals. Especially in Ensemble where we would have many rehearsals on weeknights. Obviously parents work. So in choir if a student couldn't get a ride they would tell Mrs. Lemon as soon as they could so Mrs. Lemon could find a ride for them. And she always finds a ride! She would have some of us with cars go out and pick up students in other cities! I am positive that Mrs. Lemon's guilt trip was not intended for you having a job. It was for the lack of communication. She just doesn't want the same problems repeated when they can be easily fixed.


Excuse me, this also happened to one of my family members too, where they repeatedly told her that they had no possible rides to and from on certain nights, and no one wanted to drive out there and she forgot. So, actually that is totally false. This family member only had one vehicle and it had broken down on a night he had issues with already, and you know what, she got extremely mad at this member and guilt tripped them.


Mrs. Lemon likes her students to be able to get things done regardless of their inconveniences. If Mrs. Lemon kept forgetting that they needed a ride, why didn't they remind her right before class so that she could've made an announcement or they could've written on the white board that they needed a ride. There are ways of getting things done. The choirs that I was in learned that very fast. As I said before, she scolds mistakes that can easily be fixed so that they don't happen again.


No she didn't care. She was given notice well in advance. My child also tried to find a ride but was unable to and there was no assistance by her, just embarrassment and more humiliation because the parent had to work in front of other students. This went on all four years of choir. For several years, rides and assistance were available until those students graduated. This wasn't a one time deal and like I mentioned somewhere in this mess, the child received "A's", never received solo's because private voice lessons couldn't be had. You cannot give me any good comments about her because I have seen and heard it all. I let the child stay in choir because they loved to sing (of course, upon graduation, the child even though they have an excellent voice gave it up). I did complain about the nasty comments she made but I guess it was more she ruled, as always. Like I said, she might put out some good choirs, but her ethics and treatment suck. I'm glad she's leaving so I don't have to experience it with my grandchildren (I'd talk the parents out of letting them in the choir, that's for darned sure).


for some reason this didn't end up in the right place but in response to student. I am so done with this and any fundraising in this community.


Wow, that is really surprising to me that Mrs. Lemon didn't ask the class for a ride. She is very good about that. On the topic of solos having a private lesson teacher helps tremendously. That is why, when I was in high school, Mrs. Lemon had a voice teacher that taught at the school for free to students who applied for it. However, I remember students receiving solos that did not have a teacher. If Mrs. Lemon had recommended a voice teacher it was because something was incorrect in the way they were singing whether it be pitch,rhythm or tone and a voice teacher would have been able to work through those things.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained misplaced comment. Discussion Guidelines


Parents and students have tried to do something regarding Mrs Lemon's behavior towards her students in the past but it is always a challenge to be heard. Parents have gone to administration in past years but somehow it has never been addressed properly with Mrs Lemon. Parents have tried to reason with her and try to show examples of how she may be going to far, as well as students who have tried to stand up for themselves but somehow always get shut down. If you take the time to read this post you can not deny that their is pattern of the same concerns from many people. I agree with you that Mrs Lemon is a great teacher that should not be denied I think she truly feels that her way is the best way for her students, however that is the problem the stubbornness of only her way is what has created this mess.


It's not just stubbornness but more of a lack of authority. She doesn't care. I reread the article and have to say, it is way too ambitious of a goal to put ik high school students ing this time. There's too much going on around us that I'm sure plenty of students will end up coming up short. And those that have should be compensated for what they have already given for the trip and aren't. It comes down to the caring aspect. She doesn't care, as long as she gets her way. Those said students are already criticized and treated wrong by friends and teacher alike. None of that is right. I came from a different school district and graduated from Grand Haven and let me say that stuff was never allowed to go on at the other district. Grand Haven is trying to be a bully free school and set a great example but how can they be when a teacher is bullying the students as well.


Hey kids. Just reminding everyone here that the Orchestra is also going on this trip and I don't think any of you really care because this whole comment section has just turned into a giant hate-fest on Mrs. Lemon. I have to add my two cents and say that nobody is being forced to go on this trip. And that you can't go after Mrs. Lemon for guilt tripping students or being a bad teacher because frankly it's not fair to her. I think that any criticism you have for Mrs.Lemon could very well be applied to any music teacher I have ever encountered or been taught by. It's just their mentality. They're results-oriented and they'll do what's necessary to ensure that the entire group does their best. Also, adults, keep in mind that you lose all credibility when you start butting heads with students on the internet and swearing. Nobody takes you seriously. Sorry about that. No I'm not. Okay bye. Have fun with your lives.


Actually, if you've already sent in money along with the $200 down payment you're force to go and you can't back out with a full refund (excluding the $200)
I would like to back out and not go on this trip. But I can't without losing the thousand plus I've already sent in and a guilt trip from the music teachers about how busy they are and how I'm messing everything up. So I'm forced.
And guilt trips like that are forms of bulling and I really don't think bullying should be described as a necessity to" encourage kids to do their best."


The school musical is about a condescending girl who always gets her way, ironic that myrtle lemon has the lead isn't it?


How big in the pants are you.


Not only is this statement irrelevant, but it could also be seen as a form of bullying. The discussion is on Grand Haven High School's Symphony and Choir trip to Carnegie Hall and Europe. This comment is inflammatory and serves no purpose in the discussion as a result. Even if you disregard your comment's irrelevance it fails to show any truth. Neither Myrtle nor the character she plays (Dolly) are condescending. The mask of anonymity that is known as the Internet may hide your face, but it doesn't hide your hurtful and quite frankly, rude, intentions.

Megan MacLeod

1. Have you ever seen the show? That is not what it's about at all.
2. Do you know Myrtle personally? Stop spewing filth and utter lies about a teenager that you don't even know.
3. This comment has absolutely nothing to do with the article. You're just being a bully, because you're hiding behind your computer screen. You somehow think it's okay to bash a young woman because no one knows who you are. Really courageous. I applaud you.


I really don't think we should be attacking a student for this. And the musical has nothing to do with the trip so kindly stop talking.


Hi, I am a student right now in Chamber Choir, and I remember that yesterday during class Mrs. Lemon told all of us not to post anything else up here. This is not representing us good if you will not even listen to her.


Wow, see this comment community! I'm starting to believe some of the comments about Mrs. Lemon on here!


It is interesting that Ms. Lemon is promoting this tour as an "honor" for these students...All of us associated with the schools and the community recognize the hard work and the excellence of the
Grand Haven choir...HOWEVER, it is obvious by doing the math that these music tour companies, of which there are many, are profit making organizations interested in their bottom line and making large, sometimes excessive, profits, from the fees to singers to the ticket prices for their concerts. These commercial companies are constantly scouting to offer such trips to anyone who can pay and motivating participation under the guise of the "honor" of the offer...Look at the list of groups that have performed at Carnegie Hall in recent years - from amateur church choirs, to novice school groups, to community choirs, often paired up with a few professionals to disguise their lack of training and expertise...It is often said that the only way to Carnegie Hall is practice, practice, practice but in truth, it is more often a question of who can pay the price...Only true professionals are paid to sing in such venues, their salaries when performing with amateurs, coming from the fees charged to the groups who are paying for the "honor"......

So let's look at this for what it is before sending our students out to raise funds. then off to NYC/Europe...It appears that the honor here is that Mrs. Lemon can add this to her resume...Why not instead go to Orchestra Hall in Chicago, something that wouldn't be for only those with $3200 extra dollars on hand, not to mention discretionary funds for other expenses and extras, and would still offer Grand Haven singers a memorable experience, even if it still comes with a price tag...


I assume too that most people know that the person who organizes these trips, in this case Mrs. Lemon and her assistant, receive either a cash bonus or so many free trip packages, plus perhaps other perks such as free flights, extra tours, on a ratio basis to the number of people who have signed on...usually it's something like 1 trip or so many dollars per 20 to 25 people...sometimes fewer, very occasionally more depending on the tour company...this means that the trip will not cost her anything. It will be at her discretion as to how to dole out any extra trips given - so if there are, let's say, 100 people going, Mrs. Lemon gets one, her assistant another, there could possibly be two or three free packages...HOW ARE THESE BEING USED??? There are fair ways and there are ways that are discriminatory...Since she is paying nothing, it may be difficult for her to understand why such an expenditure is difficult for others...


I really appreciate your work and thanks for posting such an amazing concept please write more articles or blogs on such important topics...

GH resident

This choir is excellent!!! But as far as being a family, it is a very "dysfunctional" family and Mrs. Lemmon should be ashamed in her behavior. The way she treats the students as well as the parents is a disgrace. I think a lot of people are looking for a change come next year!!!

GH resident

I'd like to point out something else, Mrs. Lemmon is always singing about making a difference, now write a letter to the tribune to make a difference but when any choir students do anything to make a difference and it interferes with choir, they are punished, ridiculed, quilted and embarrassed. This is bullying and is not acceptable. I can't believe with all the complaints that GHHS has had in regards to this woman, that nothing has been done and it has been allowed to continue. I have heard personally from other GHHS teachers that she not liked. So why has this continued???



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.