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“Growing Together”
May 27, 2009

MY MISTAKE!!! My apologies to Rob and Rick Clements who have volunteered to sponsor the Elmwood website. Last week I told the story but had their name wrong. I wasn't thinking when I was typing and I used the wrong last name. It might make more sense to you if I used the correct name. I'm sorry for the error!


New York , New York !!

We made it to Carnegie Hall! It took more than practice, practice, practice to get there. It took the support from families, friends, and complete strangers to help the choir get to there. It took the courage of Mrs. Colbert to make this dream come true. Taking thirty-seven teenagers to New York City and teaching them five songs in Latin to perform in front of thousands of people…that may have seemed more like a nightmare rather than a dream! Thanks to the help from parent volunteer sponsors it was a success.

Kids on bus #2 headed for the Airport.


The group left Murdock on Wednesday morning at 3:00 a.m. to meet their plane at 6:00 . Cindy Schmitt, Susan Meyer, Alex Ulmer, and I had tickets on a straight through flight that left later. Since it was straight through and they had a layover we were in New York a couple hours before they arrived. We greeted them as they came off the escalator.

Cindy and Susan greet the kids.

Mrs. Colbert likes the signs.

For more pictures of the departure click here:

Arrival at the Hotel:

We were whisked away to the Hilton in Manhattan and found our rooms. Since I signed on late I was on a different floor, the 36 th ! That is really high! Everyone else was on the 9 th floor and that seemed plenty high, too. Mrs. Colbert held a meeting when we arrived and passed out the free tickets and told them the plan for the next day.

Mrs. Colbert passes out Statue of Liberty tickets as Noah watches.

For more pictures of the hotel view click here:

Rockefellar Plaza & the Top of the Rock:

The first night we followed Dawn Hromanik who had been to New York before and seemed to know what she was doing. She led us to Rockefellar Plaza for our group picture. Then our groups split up and we explored that area. We made our way to the Top of the Rock, which is the top of the Rockefellar Center . From there we could see all over. It is not as tall as the Empire State Building but it is still pretty high. Then we headed down to see what Broadway has to offer.

Rockefellar Plaza

Choir at Rockefellar Plaza

Central Park through the buildings

Kalee, Millie, and Ashli at the Top of the Rock

M&M Store

Lights of Broadway and Times Square

For more pictures of Rockefellar Plaza and the Top of the Rock click here.


Thursday morning some of us got up and headed back to Rockefeller Center at 5:00 a.m. to watch the Today Show being filmed. While we were in line we were offered free donuts and coffee from a roadside van. The guy passing them out also gave us good advice on how to get around the city, how to avoid being attacked, how to barter, and where to find the celebrities. The girls were up front along the fence and held up their signs and Jason Cameron from DYI came up to talk to them. Throughout the morning they were on camera occasionally. The hosts, Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Hoda Kotb, and Kathy Lee Gifford all came up to the fence and talked to the people who were watching the show. They signed autographs and Hoda offered some girls who were wearing their graduation robes advice for life, “Find what you love to do and make money doing it. Don't marry for money. Do this and you will be happy.”

The kids get ready for the Today Show at 5:00 A.M. by enjoying free coffee and donuts.

The guy who gave out the donuts also gave us good advice.

Jason Cameron rehearses his lines.

Meredith Vieira signs autographs.

Matt Lauer talks to the crowd.

Kathy Lee and Hoda prepare for the show.

Fleet Week brought the Navy and Marines out in force.

Meredith poses with us.

Ashli, Sunshine, and Millie meet the Marines.

Hoda poses with Millie, Sunshine, Ashli, and Kaycie

For more pictures of the Today Show click here:

M&M Store and the Stardust Diner:

After the Today Show we hit Broadway for a little shopping. One thing we couldn't figure out is where do New Yorkers go to the bathroom? We had a hard time finding one. But we knew there was one at the M&M Store. So we trekked down there to use it and when we got there it was CLOSED. Not the store, just the Women's bathroom. They told us we could use the Mens so we did! We lined up and sent any men to the rear of the line. After we had relief we had lunch at the Stardust Diner. The waiters and waitresses are aspiring Broadway actors and they sing to the customers. And this is not just karaoke, this is professional quality tunes. Our waiter, Steve O, sang Wham's, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. It was the best breakfast I've ever had!

The Men's room at the M&M store.

Steve O performs for us.

The Waitress and Steve O team up.

Click here for more pictures of the Stardust Diner:

After practice we spiffed up and marched down to Villagio's for a real New York pizza dinner. Then we walked down Broadway to see Mary Poppins. The theater was classy and it was packed. We have no pictures of the inside of the theater because that was not allowed. The show was great and Mary Poppins flew up to the sky at the end.

Amanda Brewer and Megan Scholting

Ashli and Millie

Natalie Stander, Lyndsey Hrabik, Sunshine Backus, Julie Worley, and Theresa Fritz

Noah Philson has a double decker slice of Villagio pizza

Brandon Ahlers ate a full pizza from Villagio and they are about 3 feet around!

Mary Poppins Marquee

AJ Ita and Heather Lancaster have to wear their sunglasses because it is so bright in Time Square.

Click here for more pictures some of the kids dressed for the Broadway show:

Ground Zero ( World Trade Center ):

Friday morning we jumped on the subway and went to Ground Zero. Ground Zero is surrounded by tall fences and we found out this is to keep the public from seeing that nothing is being done there. Apparently the funding has been cut for any rebuilding or memorial so it just sits there. The flower and memorials have been removed but we found a memorial to the firemen who perished that day. We also found Trinity Church and explored that a little. The most interesting thing was the subway ride.

Natalie holds on for dear life.

Ground Zero

Firemen's memorial. It lists all the names of the firemen that were killed.

Click here for pictures of the World Trade Center/Ground Zero trip.

Exploring Central Park :

Friday afternoon Dawn Hromanik, Susan Meyer, Patti Wagonner, Ashli Brown's mom, Kaycie Leary, and I took the bike tour around Central Park . We piled into two trailers and were toured around by two nice young men who hadn't been in the country very long yet knew more about American history than we did. We saw where John Lennon was killed and his memorial, Strawberry Fields. We saw where Home Alone II was filmed and Tavern on the Green. After the bike tour we split up and Dawn and Kaycie stayed in the park. Patti, Susan, and I braved the subway again in search of Macy's. We started out going the wrong direction so we had to switch subway trains to go the right way. We found Macy's and were amazed at how big it is and how many people were there. It was overwhelming!

Dawn, Susan, and Patti shared one trailer.

Click here for pictures of Central Park .

Friday Night Shopping:

Friday night our groups split up. Some went to the Yankees game, some went to the ballet, some went to another Broadway show, and some went shopping…again. Kaycie and I took Ashli, Millie, and Kalee shopping. But first we walked up to Central Park and saw some street artists. And we found FAO Schwartz. Then we decided to take a double decker bus tour. But we couldn't find the guy selling the tickets. The lady on the bus let us ride for free to the other end of Broadway so we could buy tickets and get back on. The trouble with that is the ride was pretty wild and we all decided that we didn't want to ride any more. Once again, we hit the M&M store. And we also shopped all the way up Broadway and back to the Hilton. It was hard to pass up 4 T-shirts for $10! After all that shopping we needed nourishment. We decided on Applebees because we were all familiar with it. What we didn't know was that the prices were a lot different! A lot higher! Kaycie told them it was Ashli's birthday so they sang to her and brought her ice cream. It all worked out. J One interesting thing that happened after we went to bed was that Nicholas Cage was seen outside the hotel. They were filming a movie that he is in and we missed it! But Dawn got a few pictures of him.

Kalee at FAO Schwartz

Ashli celebrating her birthday.

Nicholas Cage

Click here for more pictures of Friday Night Shopping.

Saturday Morning shopping:

Saturday morning we slept in. The girls voted for more shopping. Surprise, surprise! We headed up 5 th Avenue but nothing was open yet. So we went to Central Park where the girls rode the carriages around the park. Then on to FAO Schwartz and 5 th Avenue . We browsed at Tiffany's and decided that we couldn't afford anything. The girls heard that there were live male models in Abercrombie and Fitch so we had to check that out. The girls all got their picture taken with one….and a couple moms did, too. J The girls found a store where they could afford things so they shopped pretty heavily there. Katie, Ashli, and Emily bought new dresses to wear to Carnegie Hall.

Group 1 in Carriage 1

Group 2 in Carriage 2

Kaycie poses with the Statue of Liberty

Jill, Kalee, Guard, AJ, Millie, and Emily at Trump Tower

Cindy and Susan with the hunky babe.

Katie and Millie (don't you love Katie's new dress!)

Click here for more pictures of the 5 th Avenue shopping excursion.

Carnegie Hall:

Once again the kids got spiffed up. We made them get together for pictures before we went to Carnegie Hall. The performance was wonderful. First a Treble Choir performed and it was primarily children. Their performance gave us chills. Our choir performed second and they also were very good. Of course, everything was in Latin so we wouldn't know if they made a mistake anyway. The choir was made up of our kids, four boys from the Falls City high school choir, a choir from North Platte , and a couple other choirs from other places. The last choir to perform was a little smaller but was just as good.

The Choir before they go to Carnegie Hall.

The Choir at Carnegie Hall.

Click here for more pictures of Carnegie Hall.

The Midnight Cruise:

After the performance we were loaded on buses and taken to a cruise ship. All choirs, orchestra members, sponsors, and interested parties were invited. It was a full ship. There was a buffet dinner and dancing. We cruised around the harbor and the Statue of Liberty was the highlight of it.

Cruise Ship

Statue of Liberty

Alyssa Brown and Katie dancing.

Ross Mumford gets down!

Tori Sillman and Victoria Rosenboom

Mrs. Colbert celebrates their success with a coke.

Mrs. Colbert and Mr. Wyman, guest conductor from Nebraska Wesleyan…the man who started this whole thing for us.

Click here to see more pictures of the cruise:

The Final Leg:

The ride home was almost uneventful. The plane had a lot of turbulence when landing in Dallas . Because of that some kids got sick. One girl got sick as they were getting on their next plane so she wasn't allowed to board. Mrs. Colbert stayed with her until the next flight to show that she wasn't sick with the flu. They made it home but a few hours later than the others.

Susan, Cindy, and I were at Eppley far before the kids so we greeted them again as they deplaned. The kids were on their phones calling and texting their families as soon as they could.

The bus ride home was just as wild as the bus ride to the airport.

The choir comes up the ramp…ready to go home!

Alyssa is calling home to tell her mom she is safe.

Bus ride home is wild!

Millie and Kalee are ready to go home!

Click here for more pictures of the homecoming:

We owe Mrs. Colbert a big thank you for even considering undertaking this adventure let alone making the dream come true. We owe everyone who helped us meet our fundraising goal. The trip was a trip of a lifetime. There was sadness because of our friends who didn't make the trip. But we would have made them proud.

We came full circle…Murdock to New York and back again. No one was mugged or kidnapped. Everyone had a great time and we all learned a lot. We learned that people in New York don't sit down much and they don't have many public restrooms. People in New York for the most part are not overweight. We figured that was because they have to walk everywhere. People in New York were pretty friendly but we were in a “good” part of town.

Every one of us were changed a little by this trip. Most people were commenting on how nice it was to get home to the fresh air and blue sky. There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.


That's all I have time for this week. More local news next week!



Julie Anderson

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