May 11, 2012 - Emily Etheredge, Staff WriterHot dogs, wind and a 19-hour train ride were some of the highlights for a group of Riverton High School band students who recently returned from a trip to music festival in Chicago.
Plus, the band took first place in competition.
Fifty-four students traveled via train from Denver to Chicago to perform at the Heritage Festival, where high school students perform musical ensembles are ranked according to an international standard.
The RHS musicians played "The Black Horse Troop" by John Philip Sousa, "Blessed Are They" by Johannes Brahms and "West Highland Sojourn" by Robert Sheldon.
Riverton took first place in the 2-A division and was the highest-scoring band out of the 24 schools that played in the competition.
Assistant band director Jason Bennett said the most enjoyable part of the trip for him was getting to make music on stage with a great group of kids.
"We had a wonderful time getting to travel together," Bennett said.
"Everyone bonded on the train ride and now feels as if riding a train is one of the best ways to travel and see the country."
The students had the opportunity to sightsee when they visited places in Chicago, including the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the United States, and Cloud Gate, the distinctive sculpture Millennium Park often referred to as "The Bean."
They group had dinner at Tommy Gun's Garage, where the students watched a mobster-themed dinner show.
Bennett said the also watched the Blue Man Group perform.
RHS senior Macey Fegler said the trip "was a blast." She enjoyed the diversity of Chicago as well as the food.
"The food was amazing," Fegler said. "I feel like I ate the majority of the time. We had a traditional Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza that took 45 minutes to cook. It tasted wonderful."
Senior Taylor Condie also said the food was wonderful and really enjoyed having the opportunity to perform several oboe solos.
"There was always something to do in Chicago, and we were always busy doing something," Condie said. "I had the best fettuccine I have ever had in my life."
Senior Sam Myers said he had travelled to Chicago before, but he enjoyed traveling with his peers and thought it gave the trip purpose.
"We were going with a goal. We had the opportunity to play at Loyola University. It was indeed windy, and it was enjoyable to travel with people who had never been before," Myers said.
The RHS students performed at Bolingbrook High School, which has 4,000 students.
"It was really crazy performing at a place that is almost half the population of our whole town," Fegler said.
The students raised their own money for the trip.
RHS director of bands Aric Hageman said he is proud of his students and the accomplishments they received.
"This is a great group of kids that has worked really hard this year," Hageman said.
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