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Band Makes Olympic Effort to Visit Sydney

All but 12 of Kennedy High's marching musicians raised enough money to go to the Summer Games.


Despite the high cost of sending 133 students on a two-week trip to Sydney, Australia, Kennedy High School band members and chaperons are set to go to the 2000 Olympic Games at the end of this month.

"It has finally dawned on all of them [students] that they will be performing for the entire world in a few weeks," said Diane Patterson, head of Kennedy High's publicity department.

Most of the 145 musicians who make up Kennedy's marching band had raised $1,400 of the estimated $3,000 the 17-day trip Down Under would cost. Parents paid the difference.

School officials had hoped to reimburse the parents through a fund-raising effort that began six months ago. But so far they have raised only a little more than $100,000.

The high price of the trip forced 12 band members to withdraw because they couldn't raise the funds.

"We just about met one-quarter of the money needed to help out parents," said Diana Heller, who heads the fund-raising effort.

It's a longshot that they will reach their goal of raising $500,000, which officials said would allow all band members to attend the Games. But Kennedy band officials are holding out hope that more donations will come in.

"We have contacted many businesses in Orange County and other corporations asking about charitable contributions," Patterson said.

Patterson acknowledged La Palma officials for a $16,000 contribution in January.

"We would especially like to thank the city of La Palma for being our biggest single contributor," she said. "Their contribution started the ball rolling."

The band will leave for Sydney on Aug. 31 and return Sept. 17. Band members will endure grueling practice sessions during the two weeks before the Games' opening ceremony. But students will have the opportunity to go on a three-day sightseeing tour of Sydney. Also during their visit, pairs of students will stay overnight in homes of Australian families in the town of Bathhurst, about three hours from Sydney.

Anyone interested in donating to the Kennedy band trip can call (562) 484-3424.

Andre Briscoe can be reached at (714) 966-5848.

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