Band cancels trip to nationals over COVID-19 concerns

Members of MCHS’s symphonic band, one of 16 selected to perform at National Concert Band Festival, learned of the decision late Wednesday night


Tracy Tobin

The symphonic band pose prior to their performance at the Illinois Music Education Conference in Peoria on February 1. The band was one of only 16 high school bands in the country selected to perform at National Concert Band Festival in Indianapolis this weekend before the trip was cancelled.

Kyla Henige, News Editor

On Wednesday night, students from the symphonic band were hit with the devastating news that their trip to National Concert Band Festival in Indianapolis on March 13 was canceled.

Due to the widespread disease COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, band director Spencer Hile and District 156 administrators decided not to allow the symphonic band to participate in the renowned festival. The decision was made to protect students, staff, and chaperones from coming in contact with this potentially deadly illness. 

Staff members such as Carl Vallianatos, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, explains the reason behind canceling this trip was the health and safety of the students.

“When you think about what’s going on nationally and regionally with the virus,” says Vallianatos. “You can see that it’s a rapidly changing scenario, where every hour there’s new information. We don’t want to risk having students and adults six-hours potentially being quarantined. There were just certain factors that we really had to take into consideration.”

This new information includes new locations of the virus, updated cases, and even deaths. These updates have led administrators to be even more wary and cautious of the whereabouts of students. 

Before canceling this event, symphonic band students such as Indigo Tooke were ecstatic about going to Nationals. “I’m excited about our performance on Friday morning when we get to get on stage and put our hard work out there,” said Tooke Tuesday before the news broke. “It’s just crazy that in two days [we’ll be preforming] and I cannot imagine what it’s gonna feel like on Friday morning when we only have two hours left.”

Upon learning the news, many band members, who have been preparing since summer, were devastated. “We found out we were going [to nationals] last July and we’ve been working on this the whole school year,” says Kristina Robinson, another member of the symphonic band. “I feel horrible for the seniors because they’ve been working for this since they were freshmen and they had their last chance in high school to perform something big stripped away.”

While some students reacted emotionally and were really upset about the canceling of the festival, students such as Domann take this experience and turned into a positive one full of learning, hard work, and fun.We worked hard to get invited there and to even get there in the first place,” says Kylie Domann. “Maybe it wasn’t the most fun part of the ordeal, but it was still a huge honor and learning experience for the band. We are all so proud and honored to have been invited in the first place, and we will never lose the fact that we had the opportunity.”

The National Concert Band Festival was canceled due at 7 a.m on Thursday due to overall concern of the virus spreading. Other events have been canceled as well, including the choir’s planned trip to Carthage College in Kenosha planned for April 4, and more will likely be cancelled in the next few days.

Additional reporting for this story by Stacy Correra.