Palestine High School's Varsity Choir is trying to raise $48,000 to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York City in March.
The students—with lots of help from choir teacher Leslie Hooe and a group of involved parents known as the Choir Boosters—have already raised $11,000, nearly 25 percent of the total.
The choir produced a talent show, “ETX Has Talent,” Saturday, raising $2,000 from ticket sales. A garage sale in September added another $2,000. Other money has been raised by selling t-shirts and at football games, where choir members collect parking fees and sell glow sticks.
Even so, the group has a long way to go.
Hooe told the Herald-Press that three students who couldn't pay a $300 deposit earlier this month had to withdraw. “Even with the group’s willingness, raising money for the trip is a challenge,” Hooe said.
Students said they don’t mind working for their trip.
Wesley Smith, 17, sang and played guitar solo at the talent show. One summer, Smith did enough yard work to earn a cruise to Central America with his family. He now appreciates the opportunity to earn money for the trip to New York.
“It makes accomplishing the goal more rewarding when you earn the money yourself,” Smith said.
Joy Ruffin, 17, also wants to sing at Carnegie Hall. She frequently sings at her church, but chose to perform as a trio, “Anointed and Appointed,” with her mother and sister Saturday. Ruffin was excited to perform with family for the first time.
Ruffin said she has raised money from her own performances, but she’s also cutting personal expenses to save. Her mother and grandparents also plan to accompany the group to New York as chaperones.
Kemper Clamon, 17, sings in the choir, but also travels frequently to competitive archery events. She said her parents usually sponsor her trips, but she also participates in the choir’s fundraisers. “It’s more rewarding when I can earn the money myself,” she said.
Another $400 is due in November, and $1,700 in January to avoid forfeits.
Roughly 200 people attended Saturday’s talent show, which included dozens of performances in three age categories. The choir performed “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at the beginning. The show concluded with an awards ceremony. Ruffin and Smith both placed second in different categories.
The choir will hold another garage sale Saturday, Nov. 2, in the high school parking lot. Community members may sign up by calling the Palestine Visitor Center at 903-723-3014, or registering at visitpalestine.com.
Choir members will perform a fall concert Nov. 21 at the PHS auditorium, when the Choir Boosters (parents and family members) will sell professionally made bakery.
The 16 students who remain committed to the trip are still looking for ways to earn for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.