Annual School Trip

Choir/Music Trip: Toronto, Easter 2019.

Toronto was a new venue for the biannual school music trip. On the 12th of April, sixty four students and seven teachers set off from the school to Dublin airport. As you can imagine there was quite a lot of excitement and animated conversation during the coach transfer to Dublin airport. Check in was going very well until one of the Aer Lingus staff said that there was a problem with the Eta visa of one of the students. Feverish checks were carried out and it was discovered that the parent of the unnamed student had entered the incorrect passport number on the system. Thankfully, the parent was able to get a new Eta issued in time for departure.

On arrival in Toronto the group transferred to the Hi Toronto Hostel on Church Street. The standard of the hostel was good and it is a central location at a cost effective price to explore Toronto. Once settled in the group went to a local restaurant for dinner. A number of heads were starting to droop as it was 2.30am Irish time.

Saturday morning the group was up bright and early for breakfast before a shuttle transfer to Trinity St. Paul’s Church on Bloor Street West for rehearsals with the Toronto Irish Choral Society. In the afternoon the group was transferred by school bus (dubbed the Bart Simpson bus) by a number of students to the Eaton Centre Mall for some lunch and shopping therapy. The group then walked back to the hostel to change into full uniform before returning to the church for the concert. Mr. Paul Kelly the Irish Ambassador to Canada was the guest of honour on the night. The professional singers involved with the Irish choral group were simply magnificent. However, I like to think that our students more than held their own on the night.

Sunday was to be a full day trip to Niagara. In the morning the group visited an outlet centre and in the afternoon we saw the power of Niagara Falls. It was most impressive. The Falls was a highlight for many of the touring party. Unfortunately, the day was cold with persistent rain which at times turned to sleet. I do not think that this really interfered with anyone’s enjoyment of the day.

On Monday the group travelled to Huron Heights High School in Newmarket which was about a fifty minute journey from the city centre. Their hospitality was second to none. Our students performed and their students also performed in a joint concert. This was followed by a lunch and a joint workshop. They plan to visit Sandford Park School in 2021. That night the group went bowling and it soon became clear who the super competitive people in the group were.

Tuesday, the group travelled to O’Neill Collegiate High School. This school is one of the premier music schools in the country. They have an annual intake of 400 new students each year. 75 places are by audition for places in a music programme that they run. The emphasis is totally on performance. For those of us old enough to remember, think of the ‘Fame’ performing Arts School in New York. Our students had a very enjoyable afternoon in the school. On our final night we went to see the musical ‘Come from Away’ in the Elgin theatre. The musical tells the story of how Gander airport in Newfoundland had to take in thirty eight aircraft and nearly eight thousand people on 9/11 when American airspace was closed to all civilian aircraft. The show lasted 101 minutes in a single act. I think most people felt the same as me believing that we had only been seated for 5 minutes. It was thoroughly enjoyable. Our students were able to ask questions of some of the cast after the performance. They put their time to good use and asked searching, perceptive questions of the actors.

The final day, Wednesday saw a thorough clean up of the rooms in the hostel before departure for the Yorkdale Mall for lunch and some last minute gift buying before departure to the airport, check in and the long flight home. The group arrived back in Dublin in the early hours of Thursday morning. Some students were met by their parents whilst the rest went by bus to the school to be met by their parents.

A huge thank you to my colleagues, Shane Keogh, Dana Kilroy, Jim Murphy, Niamh Bradshaw, Eddie McGinn and Edel Martin for all of their hard work on the trip. Well done to the students who were a pleasure to have on tour even though as teachers we might have given out a bit on one or two occasions!

Cyril Hoffman.