They’ve sold mattresses, collected clothing and worked as tirelessly to raise money, just as they do to perfect their award-winning music performances that continue to rank among the best in Rhode Island.
Sometime around 5 o’clock this morning, the efforts of dozens of Johnston High School Music Department students will come to fruition when they board motor coaches for what promises to be a fun-filled trip to Williamsburg, Virginia.
In short, the Johnston High Band, Concert Chorus and Select Choir will meet on Cherry Hill in the morning’s darkness to head for Busch Gardens – and other locations in Williamsburg – for what has become the Panthers’ annual performance in the acclaimed Music in the Parks Festival Contest.
Last year, Johnston’s music groups received excellent ratings, and director Ronald Lamoureux is looking for much of the same on this trip. The contest involves a strenuous performance schedule and draws schools from all over the country.
However, before the actual work begins tomorrow, the Johnston music family will have several team-building activities tonight in Williamsburg, complete with a pizza party and unveiling of this year’s official T-shirt.
“It's fun,” Lamoureux said. “Our kids submit different designs for the shirts, but only Mr. [Matt] Gingras and I know what design receives the most votes and the color that has been selected for the shirts. It’s playful fun and our kids love it.”
Tomorrow, though, it’s all business for the musicians – and other groups from some of the top programs in the country – as Lamoureux’s troupe will spend the morning rehearsing.
The Johnston High groups, which will be decked out in formal concert uniforms, will then travel to two high schools in Williamsburg to perform for the judges and compete for high honors against other squads from around the country.
“We won’t get back to the hotel until 11 o’clock at night,” Lamoureux said. “It’s just one part of what will be several exhausting and rewarding days during our trip.”
The Johnston School Music Association’s fundraising efforts to support the trip included a new innovation this year – a clothing and fabric drive through Savers – that helped bring in approximately $1,000.
“We were thrilled with the results,” Lamoureux said. “We delivered just over 3,000 pounds to Savers on Branch Avenue in Providence. We had a caravan of volunteers who drove with packed cars and trucks … the Savers employees said we had about three times as much as the groups that he sees come in.”
Senior Zack Morin, a member of the Johnston Police Explorer Post 405 and the Music Department, and his family collected more than one-third of the total.
“A special salute to the Morins,” Lamoureux said. “Yes, they collected over 1,000 pounds [of goods]. We are definitely planning to run this event next year and we are going to double this year’s total.” 1