By Tippi Rasp
A student group formed by a few local band directors and musicians will become nomadic this summer on a 10-day trip to Washington D.C. and New York City.
The 52 members of Northwest Oklahoma Music Ambassadors and Directors (NOMAD) and their sponsors will embark on a trip in early June. They began practicing last week for scheduled performances in Central Park in New York City and at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Students in eighth- through 12th grade from Waller Junior High School, Kremlin-Hillsdale, Drummond, Enid High, Corn Bible Academy, Ringwood, Cimarron, Hennessey, Kingfisher, Alva, Perry, Pond Creek and Oklahoma Bible Academy were selected by their band directors to go on the trip.
Band directors David Toelle, Waller, Kaylene Toelle, Kremlin-Hillsdale, Chuck Belknap, Drummond, and Belknap’s wife, Linda, are sponsoring the trip and came up with the idea to go.
The Toelles have sponsored a number of band trips at the schools where they’ve taught and have taken two trips overseas with student musicians.
The Toelles served as sponsors and directors with the Oklahoma Ambassadors of Music, which has performed in several countries in Europe under the leadership of the late Bob Costello, a friend of the Toelles.
The Toelles and the Belknaps dreamed up the idea of the trip and they hope to make the trip every three years.
Kaylene Toelle said students in the past have made memories and enjoyed performing in memorable venues.
“Performing at Central Park or the Eiffel Tower looks really good on a scholarship application,” Toelle said.
But the trip is about more than just musical performances. The trip will take the students to Capitol Hill, the Smithsonian, the Holocaust Museum, Jamestown, war memorials, Arlington National Cemetery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Empire State Building and Ground Zero. Along the way, students will be encouraged to write in a journal to “remember how they felt.”
“You’ll forget that emotion further down the road,” Toelle said.
Practices will culminate in a farewell performance before the group departs Enid in June.
NOMADs will spend several days in New York City and will see a Broadway musical, Central Park and other sites. The group will stop in Philadelphia and Williamsburg, Va., on its way to Washington, D.C.
Students not only get o travel and perform, but they are building quite a resume by being a part of the group, Toelle said.
Toelle serves as the tour group leader and also directs the band along with her husband and Chuck Belknap.
“We all take turns playing and directing,” she said. “It’s the best of both worlds since we all love to play.”
Toelle said she hope students learn that there is a world waiting for them outside their small towns.
“I hope these kids walk away from this trip with a lot of things; awesome memories, greater self-esteem, tolerant teamwork skills, enhanced musical ability,” Toelle said.
Toelle said she hopes she is making a difference in the lives of students.
“Fifteen years ago when I became a teacher I had this crazy idea that I could make a difference. I don’t know if I ever have or ever will, but I’m going to keep on trying,” Toelle said. “It’s really the least I can do because just by being an American I’ve been blessed with so much.”
The NOMAD tour is booked through Explorica Inc. On the tour the Explorica guide will keep a tour diary online daily and post pictures of the group.