Tornado students take NYC by STORM

Monday, April 14, 2008

For someone wanting to experience the world of fine arts, there's no place like New York City.

A group of Storm Lake students (along with students from surrounding schools) and several parents spent spring break seeing the sights and taking part in all the excitement The City That Never Sleeps has to offer.

This fine arts trip, which is paid for by families and through fundraising events, is taken every four years. This is the third time Storm Lake High School has sent a group to New York. Speech teacher Cindy Cone has helped organize each of the trips.

One of the highlights of the trip is meeting up with Jennifer (Robinson) Nocera, a graduate of Storm Lake High School and a past speech student of Cone's, who is now a teacher in California. She has brought a group of students with her on each of the New York trips as well, which has allowed the students from the midwest and west coast to meet and share the wonderful world of teenagers.

This year, a former student of Nocera's, who is now also a teacher, took part in the trip for the first time with a number of her students. The three "generations" progression of educators had a grand time sharing ideas (and memories.)

One of the top priority items on the itinerary was taking part in an acting workshop. Many of the students are involved in group and individual speech in their high schools.

"This is a great opportunity for them to explore acting options," Cone said. The students have a great time - there is always an unexpected roar of laughter erupting - and the students leave with experience that can improve their own speech and drama undertakings.

The group also had the chance to taste many of the authentic multi-ethnic-rooted foods of New York and were impressed with the culinary exposure.

While in New York, they took in three Broadway plays, "Chicago," "Little Mermaid," and "Spamalot."

Each was uniquely different, Cone said. While the students didn't expect to be interested in seeing the Disney story on stage, "Little Mermaid," with all its technology and color, it turned out to be the favorite of many of the students.

Of course, the tours included many of the well known sites that the city is known for - the Empire State Building, Statute of Liberty, Ellis Island, Rockefeller Plaza, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Upper Manhatten, Central Park, Harlem, Wall Street, Ground Zero, Fifth Avenue, Tiffany's, Radio City Music Hall, Trump Tower and Metropolitan Art Center.

The group had three celebrity sightings while in the city. Many of them caught quick glimpses of Donald Trump and Clay Aiken, and Marie Osmond was spotted at one of the Broadway plays (though the students could only recognize her as being a contestant on the new "Dancing With the Stars" show and because of their age, didn't know about the Donnie and Marie era!) She was gracious nonetheless and gave out several autographs.

Another crazy thing that happened was while on a walk through Central Park and Strawberry Fields, the group caught a glimpse of John Lennon and Yoko Ono - impersonators, of course but very realistic indeed. The couple was being filmed for a documentary, "New York I Love You" and several members of the group were interviewed upon stumbling into the filming.

That was exciting, Cone said, especially for Julie Cantrell- Paulson who is fascinated by Lennon's life.

For Marilee Bedel, it has been her lifelong desire to ice skate at Rockefeller Plaza - and that she did.

The group toured NBC studios and stood outside the "Today" show with a large banner bearing a green Tornado in hopes of being put on camera.

Transportation included lots of subway rides and a couple of ferry rides - something totally new to many of the students and even adults.

Cone is thrilled about what the trip had to offer all of the participants.

"Our students see a big world everyday - just walking through the hallways. From that they have gained a broader perspective of people and see that people are the same everywhere. This trip has helped them appreciate that even more. I hope they will look back on this trip and remember."

Taking part in the trip were Cone, husband Kevin and son Nolan; Beth Bedel and her mom Marilee; Julie and Mara Cantrell-Paulson; Ashley Scuffman and her mom Shelley and grandma Diana Crial; Spencer Darrow; Kristi Davis and her mom Mary Jo; Thomas Patten; Jeremy Prach; Caycee Reis; Whitney Robinson; Ben Rosenthal and his mom Val; Sally and Stacey Stark and their grandparents Ruth and Wayne Stark; Evan Stevenson; Kayla Vetter; and Katie and Lesa Turnquist and their mom Laura.

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