Summit High students perform aboard USS Missouri on school trip to Hawaii
In early June, Summit High School music teacher Caroline Hesford brought a group of 27 local students to Oahu, Hawaii, to sing at a Coast Guard retirement ceremony aboard the USS Missouri.
Every two years, Hesford leads a trip for her students where they have an opportunity to perform and have an educational experience.
The USS Missouri is best known as the location where Japan surrendered during World War II, and students were able to stand in the room where it happened on the ship to learn about its history.
Those on the trip also got to spend the night in the berth of the ship. Three students on the trip also participated in a flag ceremony, lowering the colors at night and learning the meaning behind the 13 folds of the American flag.
“It really meant a lot to these students who learn about the USS Missouri in school to actually have a tangible, relatable, historical experience,” Hesford said.
Before the morning flag ceremony started, Hesford said she was able to hear a signal from about a dozen military boats in the harbor, meaning it was time to raise the flag followed by the national anthem.
“Talk about goosebumps,” Hesford said. “It was one of those moments that will change your life forever.”
Hesford said they were also presented a flag from the USS Missouri in a shadow box to be displayed at the high school.
Lexi Vaille, who graduated from Snowy Peaks this spring, has been singing since elementary school and went on the choir trip to Italy two years ago. She was interested in doing another trip with the choir and said Hawaii was the last state in the U.S. she needed to visit to have been to all 50.
The original plan was for the choir to perform on the deck outside the ship, but when the Coast Guard and Navy got word the choir was coming, they asked the group to perform on the ship for a Coast Guard retirement ceremony.
For Vaille, the most valuable experience was being able to sing at the retirement ceremony.
“It’s not something a lot of people get to experience, so I thought that was really cool, and watching that retirement ceremony was really special,” Vaille said.
The ceremony was for a service member who served for 26 years in the Coast Guard. After the choir’s performance, Hesford said he shook hands with every student who performed.
When preparing the program for the 20-minute performance, Hesford said she chose songs that were patriotic, including “Rise Up” by Andra Day, the national anthem, “Thank You Soldiers” and the Coast Guard Semper Paratus.
Justin Ramirez, a rising senior at Summit High, said the trip was his first time leaving the continental U.S. and the longest plane ride he’s been on. He said he’s been in choir since middle school and that Hesford is the “greatest teacher” he has ever had.
For Ramirez, the most memorable part of the trip was seeing the Pearl Harbor memorial and USS Arizona.
Case Bosgraaf, a rising junior at Summit High, said the experience was made more memorable to him because of the people on the trip and “all the little fun interactions between the group.”
“Sure, we did some fun events and trips and whatnot, but that fun group of people just made everything better,” Bosgraaf said. “Everything was very much memorable and fun, every event or activity that we took part in.”
The next choir trip is planned for summer 2023, when students will travel to Spain. Hesford said students will see Barcelona and Madrid over a 10-day tour with the entire music department.
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