Music students from Hempstead High School planning to travel to New York during the first week of June can pack their bags after all. The group’s trip was in jeopardy after Integrity Travel, the agency originally contracted to organize the trip, unexpectedly ceased operations.

“Immediately following the news, we began exploring alternate options,” said Hempstead Principal Lee Kolker, who met with families last week to talk about how to handle the situation. “There was an outpouring of support for the students and the trip. No one wanted to see these students be negatively impacted by something that was totally out of their control.”

Now, thanks to the generous support of travel agencies and an anonymous donor, the trip will continue as planned. Family-owned Windstar Lines, which operates an office in Dubuque, and Star Destinations, a custom tour operator, are providing steeply discounted bus transportation for the trip. WorldStrides, a national travel agency based in Charlottesville, Va., that has provided educational travel to students in Iowa for over 40 years, also heard about the students’ plight and the company’s CEO Jim Hall offered to cover the meals and hotel rooms while the group is in New York.

An anonymous donor then offered to fund the approximately $13,000 in remaining costs. The donor, a lifelong traveler, decided to support the students so that their experience was not a negative one – hoping it will spark a continued love of travel and curiosity for experiencing new things.

The students are going to New York to have a real-world experience that strengthens their study of music. This includes seeing a Broadway show and New York Philharmonic concert, allowing students to analyze the musical selections and understand the music in relation to history and culture.

“It’s not possible to put into words what this outpouring of support means to these students and their families,” said Kolker. “They worked tremendously hard to raise funds for the trip and also contributed personal funds. It’s only right that they get to go on the trip they worked so hard to make happen.”

For more information, contact the DCSD School and Community Relations Office at (563)552-3020.