ELKVIEW, W.Va. — A trip to Walt Disney World would be a huge boost for band members at flood-destroyed Herbert Hoover High School, according to band director Meleah Fisher.
“They lost a lot and to get to do this, I don’t want to say it’s a reward, but it’s a little something that they’ve had a lot of hardship and this is a bright spot for them,” Fisher said.
The Hoover marching band, who lost all their instruments and uniforms in the June 2016 flood, was selected to perform in the Disney World Parade on April 3, 2018.
When Fisher told her students the news she said, “some kids cheered, some kids cried.”
To represent the Elk River community would be an honor, but band member Tatum Young said the trip comes with a big price tag.
“A big obstacle is raising all the money to go there,” said Young.
The 36-member band has to raise about $30,000 total to pay for the trip, which includes hotel and transportation costs. That means each student will have to raise about $750. The week-long trip will be during Kanawha County Schools’ Spring Break.
Since they heard the news, the band has been holding fundraisers throughout the community.
“We’ve been selling T-shirts. We just finished up selling pepperoni rolls,” Young said.
As of Friday, the band sold nearly 4,400 pepperoni rolls.
Fisher and Young spoke with MetroNews inside the new band room, located at Hoover’s new portables in the parking lot of Elkview Middle School. A new high school will be built in the years to come.
Young, a sophomore, said the rest of her high school career could be spent in portable classrooms.
“I know that I probably will not be able to go to the new high school as a student if they take like 4 or 5 years to build the new school, but I’m excited to see it,” she said.
Flood recovery has been slow, but steady, Fisher said. The band is still using borrowed uniforms and has been in the process of replacing damaged equipment.
“It was like Christmas when I bought 20 stands this summer,” Fisher said. “We had three or four days without stands and when the stands came in, you would’ve thought it was Christmas morning. I’ve never seen kids so excited to put stands together.”
Fisher is confident the band will be wearing new uniforms by the Disney parade.
“They should be in our hands soon, so we’re looking forward to that,” she said.
During the trip, the group plans to explore Orlando and other parts of Florida.
“Some of my kids have never seen the ocean. Some of my kids have never been to an amusement park. It’s just falling in place. It just feels right,” Fisher said.
In this season alone, the marching band has already placed 1st or 2nd in all of its competitions. Hoover’s student achievement and atheletic teams have also improved since the flood.
“All of the Hoover kids have worked harder. Our test scores went up, our athletic teams have excelled. We’re excelled in the classroom, we’ve excelled on the courts, the playing fields and, for the band, this is just a little bit of icing on the cake,” Fisher said.
The money raised for the Disney trip will be completely separate from donations received for flood recovery.
Fisher said the band typically travels to Disney World every four years. The last time the band performed there was in the mid-1990s.