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Choir goes to Canada

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MCHS choir students took a trip through Michigan into Canada at the end of April.

MCHS choir students took a trip through Michigan into Canada at the end of April.

MCHS choir students took a trip through Michigan into Canada at the end of April.

Andreanna Haritopoulos, School News Team

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Maple syrup galore, measuring distances in meters, and prices that are typically higher than what we see at home. These are the most noticeable differences that a typical suburban student would see between the “True North” and downtown Chicago. This is Canada, eh?

Following mere weeks after spring break and shortened school weeks, the MCHS choir program went on their biennial “tour” throughout Michigan and to Toronto, Canada. Just over 40 students and 11 chaperones headed out on April 19 through April 23 for the trip, following a precisely planned itinerary from their wake up call until returning to the hotel at dark.

“I would relive that trip in a heartbeat!” Emily Maruszak, sophomore, said. “I had fun through every moment and the fact that everyone had a great attitude and kept the energy high made the experience even better.”

First stops: Ann Arbor & Detroit
Once the group completed their 4-hour trek north, they settled into assigned hotel rooms for a much needed rest. The next morning April 20, students and chaperones loaded the motor coach and headed to University of Michigan to participate in a music clinic with Jerry Blackstone at the university’s theater.

After only a short time, the group got moving once again to Detroit and toured the Motown Museum, featuring the story behind Motown Records and Studio A, where the music style was born. Known today for the works of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and The Temptations, students were able to learn that Motown is as important to Michigan’s history as jazz and the blues are to the deep south.

Next Stop: Toronto
As the coach buses passed through border control, and an anonymous student claimed, “We’re in Canada, my healthcare is already better,” everyone was nearly springing from their seats to attend dinner and a show at Famous People Players in Toronto.

“Out of all the things we did, I would have to say that Famous People Players was my favorite,” Shelby Weathers, senior, said. “Just the level of creativity with a Jaws-themed skit and the innovation seen in the incorporation of black lights was simply something spectacular to see.”

With a menu crafted by celebrity chef Christopher Woods, the group enjoyed a performance created and directed by people who are mentally disabled. That evening’s performance was host to a shower of black lights and various skits to entice the audience.

“This show was one of two of my favorite parts of the trip,” McGwire Holman, sophomore, said. “It was nice to see that even with their disabilities, it doesn’t stop the people from performing and doing what they love.”

MCHS Essence members also had the opportunity to join the actors on stage to perform their own number before diving into dessert. After that, it was back to the hotel and into the rooms in preparation for an even busier schedule on Friday.

Moving On: Ontario
At precisely 8 a.m. on Friday morning, after first grabbing breakfast at the hotel, the group headed out to an iconic destination that crosses over both U.S. and Canadian territory — that’s right, Niagara Falls. Upon their arrival, there was no time to waste as everyone united forces to set up for a performance in the Grand Hall.

“Niagara Falls was my favorite part of the trip because they were just breathtaking and my family surprised me by coming up to hear us sing,” Maruszak said.

Following a short presentation from Virtual Reality on the natural phenomenon that is the Falls, choir kids and chaperones alike journeyed behind the base of the roaring water through on an observation deck. It was only then that the group explored Niagara’s Butterfly Conservatory, featuring nearly 2,000 free flying insects in an environment emulating the rainforest environment. While most fell victim to attacks by swarms of winged beauties, each individual managed to make it out with their lives.

Don’t worry, if you thought that these choralists were going to miss out on the most famous excursion at Niagara, you will be relieved to find out that there is still one more tour to take place. The group was all aboard a ferry boat equipped with rain ponchos to feel the mist and experience the surge of the sea rain down upon them. And yes, everyone was soaked by the time they had to leave.

The day in Ontario closed out with a dinner at 775 feet above ground in the Skylon Tower’s revolving dining room. While in the Skylon, it may not have been the best idea to get up to go to take a bathroom break, as you may not find your way when you come back. One student reported, “I lost my table.”

Final Day of Fun: Toronto
The last day out and about led the group to the heart of the tour in Toronto. Their Saturday morning began with a tour of the city including the still bustling St. Lawrence Market in Old Town York, the aging Fort York, and the more modern skyline, along with Nathan Phillips Square boasting the massive 3D TORONTO sign in front of a reflection pool.

After a quick journey through and lunch at the Royal Ontario Museum, MCHS choir members made their way to the majestic castle of Casa Loma, home to European influences and a massive garden on the grounds. Dressed in their traditional performance garb of gowns, robes, and suit jackets, the choir performed in one of the halls of the musical manor. Following that was a short audio tour, and then it was back to the bus.

The final event that the travelers had the opportunity to attend was a Mariposa cruise at the Toronto Harbor. Setting sail from Pier #6, the evening was host to dinner and dancing, along with the choir’s final performance on board for the rest of the cruisers.

Saying Goodbye
Sunday was yet another travel day, bringing the group back home on a 9.5-hour bus ride (Hey, but at least they gained an hour back!). From a U.S. border agent asking the kids who knew the Barden Bellas to coming to the realization that maple syrup is acceptable at any time of the day to the typical bus ride banter, traveling to our northern neighbors was most certainly a trip to remember.

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Choir goes to Canada