Chorale group close to fund-raising goal

By Tony Parra

The Portales High School Chorale group is $8,000 short of its goal in getting what some of the students said is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Franklin Smith, PHS chorale director and instructor, said choir students will have their final fund-raiser on Sunday in order to raise enough money so that 35 students can fly to New York City and perform.
“I want them to have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Smith said. “I want them to have a music experience they can remember. We want to keep on working and raise the money needed.”
The Fifth Annual Spaghetti Dinner will take place at two different times on Sunday in the Portales High School cafeteria. The first dinner will be at 12:30 p.m. and the second dinner will be at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children who are 12-and-under.
“It’s going to be a treat,” Justin Stuart, a PHS junior who sings tenor, said. “It’s going to be a great experience for me. Many have adults have told me that when they were a kid, they wished they would had an opportunity like this.”
The students are scheduled to fly out of Albuquerque and will be in New York City from April 29 to May 2. Smith said the students will perform at the Music Maestro Please festival on May 1.
“I’m excited and nervous,” Samantha Blackwell, a PHS junior who sings soprano second, said. “It’s a whole different setting. I don’t know much about the people and the atmosphere.”
Many students said it will be the first time they visit New York City and many also said it will be their first trip on a plane. It will be the first time on a plane for Blackwell and also for senior Kristi Arnold.
“Many of my (choir) friends have never been to New York City,” Arnold said. “It’s kind of scary, but I think we’ll be alright because it’s going to be a big group. It will be easy to stay together.”
Smith said the students have raised $24,000 so far. The cost for the entire trip to pay for flight, hotel and other expenses is estimated at a total of $32,000. Smith said if people are unable to attend the spaghetti dinners on Sunday, they can also donate at the high school under the name of Smith for the choir trip.
Smith said the students will also visit the Statute of Liberty, take a ferry trip to Staten Island, visit the 9/11 memorial site, Wall Street, Trinity Church, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
He said one of the biggest fund-raisers they have had was the beef raffle which happened from December to February.
“There are a lot of businesses and people that have helped us already,” Smith said. “I have been humbled by all of the support from the community. We made most of our money through the beef raffle.”
Smith said he hopes to give his students an opportunity similar to the one he received as a high school senior at Portales in 1992. According to Smith, he was able to go on a band trip to Los Angeles and perform at a festival.
“I think that really made an impact on me as a student,” Smith said. “It helped me to get the point where I am at today. It’s not something everybody can do.”