School-Funded Spring Break Trips Return; Students Head to South Carolina, Bermuda

For many Phillips Academy students, spring break is an opportunity to relax after the rigors of winter term, but for some it is an opportunity for world travel and life-changing experiences. The Phillips Academy orchestra and cantata groups will perform concerts in Bermuda, while some Andover students will volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in South Carolina. Phillips Academy sponsors both programs. The PA orchestra and cantata group plan to give one concert each at two Bermuda schools, which are the private Warwick Academy and the public Cedarbridge Academy. In addition, the orchestra and cantata groups have also been invited to perform with the Bermuda Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus at one of their regular season concerts. While not performing, PA students will enjoy numerous planned excursions, all of which will explore various aspects of Bermuda’s natural history and culture. Instructor in Music William Thomas, who is coordinating the Bermuda trip, said that the students will have “guided tours of the Bermuda Aquarium, Zoo, and Natural History Museum, where local experts will share information and guide us through these facilities.” Mr. Thomas added, “We of course look forward to some fun and recreation time in the afternoons on the beach!” The group has also been invited to have afternoon tea with the Premier of Bermuda. Last year, the PA orchestra and cantata group were unable to take a trip together over spring break due to inadequate funding. Two years ago, the groups traveled to Hawaii. Ann Wilkin ’05, who traveled with the PA music groups to Hawaii in 2003, said, “I thought the trip was incredible. I learned a lot about Hawaiian culture that I hadn’t known before.” Wilkin continued, “We sang J.S. Bach’s St. John’s Passion, which was absolutely gorgeous. We sang parts of it for a local high school and then at a real concert in this really pretty chapel. It was lovely. Mr. Thomas is really a great guy for giving students that kind of opportunity.” Mr. Thomas said, “The trip is an extraordinary opportunity to share our work with other like-minded individuals in another culture. We will be their ‘special guests’ and appreciated for the talents we have and the great joy there comes in sharing in music-making and making new friends….I feel that this trip has great potential for musical growth, expanded horizons culturally, and great value for friends to work and relax together.” Mr. Thomas continued, “Bermuda is a richly diverse multicultural society which looks and feels very different from our world here in Andover and the U.S.” “I think singing for complete strangers someplace far away really broadens students’ perspectives and opens their minds and brings them to a new level of expression. We had this amazing music that we wanted to share with these people from all over the world….Music is like a universal language and it was a great experience,” said Wilkin. The group will depart for Bermuda on Sunday, March 12. They will perform a concert in Lawrence at St. Mary’s Church on Friday, March 11 to benefit the Andover/Lawrence String Program. This is part of a community service program in partnership with the Lawrence Family Development Charter School. During this spring break, several other Phillips Academy students will travel to South Carolina to take part in a Habitat for Humanity project. The students will help to repair and build houses for people on Jones Island, South Carolina. Director of Community Service Chad Green said, “It is really a transformational experience for some students. They get to know their peers and teachers in a way unlike they do in the classroom.” According to Brendan McManus ’05, one of the program’s student leaders, “The experience is like that of no other Andover program.” He continued, “In addition, being able to actually see the fruits of out labor, like the roof or door you just repaired, and the look of happiness on the faces of those in need, makes the trip both personally rewarding and spiritually moving….Having the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life and getting to actually meet that person and witness his or her joyful reaction to your work is priceless.”