Earlier this year, students from the band and choir programs at Jones High School in Orlando, Florida, were invited to perform at New York City’s Carnegie Hall as part of the WorldStrides Festival. They have been diligently fundraising, but on February 15, talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres partnered with Walmart to donate the remaining funds needed to pay their way.
Jones is one of nine high schools nationwide invited to attend the festival, and the choir has been selected as the featured choral group for the event. WorldStrides, an organization dedicated to educational travel, presents the annual festival; schools apply to participate and are chosen at the discretion of a judging panel of music professionals.
One hundred percent of Jones High School’s student population comes from low income families, and the trip to Carnegie Hall for 100 students and chaperones costs $200,000. The students had raised approximately half of the necessary funds through car washes and fundraising performances. As part of The Ellen Show’s continuing partnership with Walmart, the superstore chain donated the remaining $100,000 to the school.
The trip to New York City includes the performances at Carnegie Hall, sightseeing, and taking in a Broadway show.
“Giving our students this once-in-a-lifetime experience will enrich our entire student population and let our top musicians display their talents — letting the world know why we are the great Jones High School,” said principal Allison Kirby in the Orlando Sentinel. In fact, it was Kirby’s letter to DeGeneres that prompted her to invite band director Jamaal Nicholas and choir director Andrea Green for a surprise presentation of the check.
“We need to be helping our schools and protecting our children,” said DeGeneres.
Inside another performance of young artists on the Carnegie Hall stage: