Editor's note: Amanda Kerrivan is a freelance reporter for The Charter and a student at Fatima Academy who traveled to Orlando Florida with the school choir and accordion group to perform at Disney Magic Music Days. This is the story of their experience, in her own words.
The sun was hot, the pressure was on, the stage was set and all of our dreams were about to come true.
On Easter Saturday at 2:45 p.m. a dream born six months ago became a reality. We, the Fatima Academy Concert Choir, were performing in Orlando, Florida at the much-respected Disney Magic Music Days. This was a dream that others before us dreamt but never had the opportunity to accomplish. This was a dream that everyone around us worked for, slaved for, strived for.
As we finished the final lines of Ode to Newfoundland, pride rang through our voices. Here we were, a group of 49 students from the Cape Shore of Newfoundland representing our province on an international stage. We were telling the story of our province through the best way we knew how - music.
As we looked out into the audience we saw faces that were both familiar and unfamiliar to us. Among them were some of people who had made it possible for us to stand on this stage, some of those who had worked so hard for us and adamantly refused to give up. This was as much their dream as it was ours, I quickly realized, as I took in their expressions of fulfillment, gratification and attainment. Also present were people we did not know, some of whom we only recognized by the Newfoundland flags that they were proudly waving for all to see. And then there were the complete strangers; the people to whom we were telling the Newfoundland story for the first time - the story that included our Irish heritage and roots, our dignity and pride, our history with the fishery, our tragedies and our triumphs.
As we begun the song, The Rolling of the Seas, the first song we had practiced as a choir, I was quickly transported back to six months prior, to the first Tuesday evening that 49 students, including myself, met as a choir for the first time.
As the lyrics, "I'm a Newfoundlander born and bred and I'll be one till I die," left our mouths in perfect unison I realized how far we had come. That first Tuesday evening we had been so hopeful, so ambitious, and at the same time, so scared. The goal seemed impossible - travel to the famous Walt Disney World and represent our province on an international stage.
The question, "could we do it?" was on everyone's minds. Could we raise the money? Could we represent our home? Could we represent ourselves? Could we tell the story of our province the way it should be told? Could we, the Fatima Academy Concert Choir, do it?
But Mr. Colbourne, the man who had taken on such a massive task with energy and enthusiasm and a smile the entire time, reassured us. He told us that yes, we would have to work, we'd have to be committed, and we had to prove to him that we wanted it, prove it to the Cape Shore, to Walt Disney World, and more importantly, we had to prove it to ourselves. In short, the trip to Florida and this chance of a lifetime wouldn't come easy. But he told us to remember back to our first rehearsal to see how far we have come in just a short time.
As months flew by, and the seasons changed we got closer to the dream. We hosted some amazing concerts like The Cape Shore Night, The O'Reilly's benefit, and Put 'er Up. We also sold vegetable hampers, cookie dough, fish cakes, tickets, and much more. Quickly, we realized that the dream was becoming a reality and the answer to our question was that yes, we could do this! And we did. On April 3, at 4:15 p.m. Newfoundland time the Fatima Academy Concert Choir and our director, Mr. Colbourne, lived our dream. And we had the time of our lives doing it.
Not only did we get to do what few people get to do in their lives, but we made memories that we will never forget along the way.
One of our shining moments was performing for John Crosbie, our Lieutenant Governor. Another big memory made for a lot of us was the impromptu performance at Gate 4 in the Toronto airport. While waiting for our departure to Orlando, our Newfoundland roots came out in full force when we decided to crack out the accordions and sing and dance to our favourite Irish-Newfoundland songs as a crowd gathered round. The fun didn't stop there. In fact, the fun didn't stop for a long time.
Our entire trip was compiled of laughs and smiles, whether it was our now famous performance itself, soaking up the Florida rays with our best friends, enjoying the pool, seeing lions, rhinos, and alligators on an African safari ride, sliding down a 50-foot waterslide, testing our limits on some of the world's scariest rollercoasters and rides, taking in amazing fireworks or techno light shows, or spontaneously breaking into song while in the long line-ups for rides, our trip to the most magical place on Earth will never be forgotten.
It seemed that the theme of dreams coming true was a recurring one in Florida. After our exhilarating performance we participated in a workshop hosted by Disney actress and songstress Lesley Mann. Not only was the workshop informative and interesting, but it a memory we will never forget! In the workshop, we sung two songs from The Lion King, a movie that was a favourite and greatly loved one in many of our childhoods. We were given the opportunity to play the parts of our favourite characters and sing the songs that made us so excited and happy when we were younger. In reality, for those few happy hours, we the Fatima Academy Concert Choir, was reverted back to childhood. And then, once we had The Lion King conquered and we were presented with a special keepsake DVD of our work, we performed choreography from the hit movie High School Musical. Before the talks and whispers of Florida began we would never have thought we would be given these amazing opportunities, we would never have these childhood dreams come true.
Walt Disney said it best when he said, 'It's fun to do the impossible."