Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Rodney King Verdict and a choir festival ( an unfortunate day to be on a field trip)

My most memorable field trip ever!!!
When I used to be a choral director, I went on MANY field trips;
In fact over my career I’ve counted more than 100 field trips. These were the days before “No child left behind “, before massive testing was the norm. The school was not concerned if kids missed class to go on field trips to expand their learning. We performed at senior centers, and homes for the mentally challenged. We performed at Disneyland, went to San Francisco, San Diego, and cruises down the coast of California stopping in Mexico.
We had just performed in a choir festival at a High school in Glendale….
and everything was going as planned. The students were on the bus and were very excited to go to Magic Mountain. I remember that many of the students had never been there before, and the ones who had been there were excitedly talking about all the roller coasters. As we neared the exit we saw something strange! There were people pulled to the side of the freeway standing outside of their car. What is going on? ( Remember this was 1992, and most people didn't have cell phones yet). The traffic slowed down and we saw the Wendy's restaurant ( that I had been to many times before when I worked at Magic Mountain), the windows were broken, in fact people were running around throwing things. What is going on??? We finally made it to the entrance of Magic Mountain. The attendant said” the Rodney King verdict came down today, there is civil unrest, so we aren't letting anyone else in. “ What do you mean, we can't come in? We fund raised all year to pay for these tickets, we have been looking forward to this all year!” After a few phone calls to the district, the bus turned around and headed home . The kids were screaming and crying. There was an outpouring of emotion like I'd never seen before. Such disappointment ! The discussions on the bus turned to whether or not we would get our money back, could we go on another day, “HOW COULD THEY DO THIS TO US?”Hardly any of the kids were interested in why this was happening. I tried to explain what was going on to the students, but it was too much of a “ hot button” issue. Everyone was too upset. I was relieved when the bus got very quiet and many of them slept from exhaustion , and their output of emotion. Needless to say it was the longest most difficult bus ride home I've ever experienced. After all the students were picked up and I went home , I was exhausted so I sat in front of the TV and watched the news. I saw the riots, the looting and the city burning! There had been a shooting at Magic Mountain! They had cancelled a concert by the Rap group TLC, and someone started shooting. I was so thankful that we had left Magic Mountain!  I was worried about the backlash I would get from parents on Monday, but none of that mattered now. We were out of harms way.We dodged a bullet! God had protected us. Looking back it was probably good that we didn't know the scope of what was going on. I will never forget this day!!!

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