Orchestra Tour: 96 hour party

At 6 a.m. on Oct. 29, most of Ames High’s students were fast asleep. In the back of the school, however, activity was stirring. More than 60 excited students were loading up the buses to go to the Twin Cities for Orchestra Tour. The Ames High Orchestra goes on tour once every three years. For this trip, director Mary Kay Polashek planned a four-day, action-packed itinerary of music and fun in Minnesota. After a 4-hour bus ride, the first stop for the Orchestra Tour crew was St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where they had a workshop with one of the college’s orchestra directors. “I think we learned a lot from it,” sophomore Joel Ullestad-Heneke said. “I think the group got a lot better.” After the workshop and a big lunch in the St. Olaf cafeteria, the students headed to Minneapolis, where they toured the Minneapolis Institute of Art. “The art was really amazing,” sophomore Paul Jasper said. “But the small self-guided tours was what really made the entire experience great.” After dinner and some free time, the group headed out to see the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, considered to be one of the best in the world. “The St. Paul orchestra was pretty cool. They played all the songs and movements really well. I was very impressed,” sophomore Ishaq Dontani said. Early Saturday morning, the tour continued, with visits to two historic Minneapolis landmarks: the James J. Hill House and the Landmark Center, Minneapolis’ historic courthouse and post office building. “The Hill House was pretty cool,” sophomore Sanjeeva Weerasinghe said. “It was interesting to see how the owner came from a really poor background but was able to eventually have so much.” The tour of the Landmark Center was met with less enthusiasm by many of the students. “Basically, the tour was two hours of suicidal boredom,” sophomore Ryan Hanson said. After the mixed bag of morning tours and lunch, the group headed out to the Como Park Zoo, which, for a zoo, had a surprising lack of animals. “There were more empty exhibits than filled ones,” sophomore Tommy Pitcher said. “Like, there was one polar bear. And maybe an ostrich.” Regardless, the group travelled on. After a delicious Italian dinner, the group enjoyed free time at the hotel, including a dance party in the banquet room. On Sunday, the first stop was an optional visit to the giant St. Paul Cathedral for an 8 a.m. Mass and pictures. Most of the group chose to sleep in, but some pulled themselves out of bed for the experience. “I don’t usually go to church, but I went this time for the architecture. It was really amazing,” sophomore Kalyn Gallup said. After church, the two groups rejoined for an outing to the Science Center of Minnesota, which impressed everyone. “The Science Center was a life-changing experience for me,” sophomore Marios Tringides said. “Kind of like the time I met Mr. Walter.” Later that night, the group was treated to dinner and a show, when they attended the Elvis-themed performance “All Shook Up,” at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater. “Chanhassen was like ‘whooo!’” senior Genna Tesdall said. Monday was the last day of tour. With a saddened spirit, the group checked out of the hotel and loaded the bus. But before they headed left the Twin Cities, there was one last stop- the Mall of America. “Mall of America was great,” junior Alyssa Bovinette said. “Asians plus espresso shots equals best tour ever! Oh, and the Spongebob roller coaster was off the hizzay!” After their trip to the mall, they headed home, happy with a successful tour. The tour included many varied and interesting planned activities, but the most exciting times may have come during the free time. “I think the best part of tour was just hanging out in the hotel rooms,” said junior Mia Shin. Whatever the best part was, Orchestra Tour was undoubtedly a success this year. When asked how he would rate the tour on a scale of 1 to 20, junior Ryan Park responded “Tweeenty!” Director Mary Kay Polashek was pleased with the tour too. “I was very, very happy with it. Overall, it was a fantastic tour, the best one I’ve ever had.”