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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow CHOIR TRIP FAILS TO WIN BOARD OK



By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

La Grande High School's a cappella choir will not tour England and Scotland next year during spring break.

The La Grande School Board fell one vote shy of approving the proposed trip this week.

The board voted 3-2 in favor of the trip. This was a single vote short of the number needed to approve the tour. Four votes were needed because the board has seven members, two of whom were not present at Wednesday's meeting. Four votes were necessary because this represents a majority of the board.

Jim Mollerstrom, Mary Ann Miesner and Ron Arritola voted to approve the trip and Kathleen Cathey and Glen Herman opposed the trip. Board members Steve Joseph and Guy Weishaar were absent.

A board decision was needed by this week because of trip fund-raising deadlines, said choir director Michael Frasier.

Board approval is needed for all school trips made outside the United States.

Frasier said the a cappella choir will make a trip to New York next spring in place of the journey to England and Scotland.

The choir's trip to Great Britain would have been privately funded but still would have been considered a school trip.

This is because the students would have been performing as members of the school's choir, the trip would be open only to members of the choir, school time would have been used to prepare for the trip and students would have traveled under rules of school conduct.

The 10-day trip would have been made in March. Along with performing, students would have visited many historic sites including the Globe Theatre and Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare's birth place.

"Being there makes history and culture come alive,'' Frasier told the board.

Cathey said she was impressed with Frasier's presentation.

"The passion you expressed for learning touched me,'' she said.

Cathey pointed out that the school district is facing the possibility of significant budget cuts this year. She said she did not want to be in a position of cutting education programs while supporting an out-of-country trip.

At a meeting on July 10 most school board members were opposed to making the trip a district-approved tour because they were concerned about liability issues.

At Wednesday's meeting, Frasier and LHS Principal Doug Potter pointed out that all students going on the trip would be covered by all types of insurance. This includes travel insurance everyone would have had to purchase, airline insurance, the insurance the students' families have and other sources. The school district thus would face much less liability than some people initially assumed.

"By the end of the meeting insurance was not an issue,'' Superintendent Jay Rowell said.

Arritola said that he did not believe that sending students to England would expose them to exceptional risks.

"I see no difference between driving from La Grande to Baker City and flying to England,'' Arritola said.

He noted that truck drivers often say that Ladd Canyon and Cabbage Hill between Baker City and Pendleton are considered to be among the most dangerous stretches they travel. Still, numerous school district trips are made over these passes each year, Arritola said.

The trip to Great Britain could have been made without being connected to the school district if changes had been made. Frasier added that it would have been difficult to raise money without an endorsement from the school board.

The a cappella choir has been successful under Frasier's direction, having won the past two state Class 3A championships. Frasier said he appreciates all the support he received from parents and the community in trying to organize the trip to England and Scotland.

"It has meant a lot,'' Frasier said.


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