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'New York Experience'
East band, McConnell featured in national publication

By John Veasey - Times-West Virginian

The Busy Bee Band from East Fairmont High School is sharing the "New York Experience" with schools throughout North America. Members of the Busy Bee Band are pictured marching down Seventh Avenue in New York last May when the band visited Rockefeller Center and also the USS Intrepid. The picture is on the cover of the March issue of Student & Youth Traveler. "This magazine goes to 35,000 schools in North America, and we were just fortunate enough to get on the cover," Director Earl W. McConnell said - beaming with pride as he displayed the magazine cover.

Editor-in-chief Matt Poe, in his column entitled "Teachers Make the Difference," wrote that teachers are the most important people in the lives of their students. "That impact can be even greater if you travel with your students, open­ing their eyes to a new world and even deeper lessons," he said. Poe singles out two teachers for special praise in this column - one of them being McConnell, about whom he wrote: "McConnell went above and beyond for his band on a trip to New York City," he said. "I won't spoil the story, but it involves helicopters, air­craft carriers, and a performance where no band has played in many years."

USS Intrepid
The Busy Bee Band & Honeybees perform on the USS Intrepid in New York in May 2006.

McConnell authors an article in the same magazine - one entitled "Band Trip of a Lifetime." The veteran band director, whose musical group has performed all over the United States through the years - including marching in the Rose Bowl Parade on Jan. 1, 2000, and appearing in the inaugural parade for President George W. Bush - wrote that one of the greatest assets "this program has provided through the years has been an outlet for getting my students 'out of their backyard,' so to speak, and travel to various sights around the country that they had never seen." McConnell paints an excellent pic­ture of last May's trip to New York City with his descriptions of the band marching down Seventh Avenue prior to a performance at Rockefeller Center, and appearing on the deck of the USS Intrepid that afternoon.

He told how he "secured a local benefactor to provide the funding to charter a helicopter for 30 minutes to photograph the Busy Bee Band and Honeybees on the deck of the USS Intrepid from high in the sky." McConnell wrote about motivation. "What better way to motivate young students than to prepare them for a performance of a lifetime, in a setting away from home, that will provide lasting memories and a great sense of accomplishment." The magazine carries photographs of the band performing at Rockefeller Center and also one taken from the helicopter when it was on the deck of the Intrepid.

SYTA Cover



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