In the spring of 2000, Kathleen Kane, the choir director at Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, Mich., hosted a German high school choir touring the US. Though her students and their German guests worked together in the classroom for just a few days, Mrs. Kane struck up a friendship with maestro Bernd Spitzbarth. That brief intercultural exchange marked a turning point for the Wyandotte choirs. A few months later, a letter came in the mail inviting the Roosevelt a cappella choir to perform in Germany. In a whirl of excitement, Mrs. Kane set about learning the necessary steps for such an adventure, as this was her first time taking a choir beyond the city limits. And the trip was a rousing success, ultimately resulting in a slew of subsequent excursions to destinations from New York City’s Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
Midway through preparations for her next venture, a performance tour of Austria in 2009, Kathleen Kane took a few moments to speak with Choral Director about taking flight with the Wyandotte choirs she leads.
Mrs. Kane’s Travel Tips
Start Small Take a one-day trip and build from there.
Preparation Once your choice of destination is secured, talk with your travel agency and/or hosting organization. Prepare all the necessary paperwork, and seek support from parents, staff, administrators, and community.
Staffing Incorporate staff/parents that are easy-going, can think quick on their feet, and are able to handle students with firmness and sensitivity. Talk to other staff members who have traveled.
Chaperones Make sure that you have reliable, supportive chaperones. Check school policy for chaperone/student ratio and requirements, and plan on having at least one extra chaperone.
Informational Meeting Set up a parent/student informational meeting well in advance of the trip. (For example, for a one-day trip in the spring, meet in mid-fall. For a costly international trip, plan the meeting as early as possible even a year or two in advance. This allows time for preparation and financial planning.)
At the meeting, cover all pertinent information, answer questions, and provide needed materials: handbook, health form, registration form, pledge/code of conduct, et cetera.
Paperwork includes the following:
Code of Conduct
Travel Agency Terms and Conditions
Health Form (comprehensive and confidential)
Handbook Cover all items that pertain to preparing for the trip and the trip itself.
Student Pledge/Code of Conduct This states all expectations of the participants, whether it be students or adults. All expectations should be stated clearly!
Passport Check with your local Post Office for accurate information about passports. Also be sure to instill in the students the importance of taking precautions with their passport.
MedicalOfficer It is important to have one staff person designated as “medical officer.” This person should have proper certifications, be aware of any specific health issues of participants, and monitor prescription medications.
Luggage List what is needed and what is allowed. Check with your travel agent to see if there are size and/or weight limits as well as what can or can’t be taken. Pack sensibly. If planning on buying souvenirs, save room for them.
Arrivals and Departures Buses and airplanes do not wait. Every traveler should have a watch (or other time device such as a cell phone). Knowing where to be and at what time is crucial! Arrive to scheduled meeting place 10