Seven days

I spent the last couple of weeks of my summer training to assume my new position as an RA (Resident Advisor). During one of our training sessions, I learned about journaling as a stress-reliever- of course I picked the journaling session over the running one. I wrote the following post during that session and I'[m happy to say that it was very relaxing to get my feelings, which had been piling overwhelmingly high as the days went by, out on (cyber)paper. Though this is the closest I’ve come to having a journal, I’m a huge fan of writing as a stress-reliever. GO, WORDS!

In just a few days I will begin the opportunity of a lifetime. Wednesday is move-in day for my residents.

My team.

I have to say that a few weeks ago I was extremely nervous about this time. I was worried that I might misuse or not satisfy to the best of my ability this chance to impact the lives of my residents and inspire them to become life-long learners.

These past seven days have been incredibly eye-opening for me. Going through the training process to become an RA has really opened my mind to the challenges, but also the rewards, of this upcoming experience. I’ve found in only the last seven days that I was meant to play this role at my school. I feel like I was always supposed to be a role model and positive influence in the lives of others. Now I have my chance.

Before last week I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle this much responsibility- being a source of support and inspiration for my residents. Now, after I’ve developed incredible relationships with the other members of my staff and have thus been the recipient of their unwavering support and encouragement, I feel very confident that I will be able to do the same for my residents.

It’s three days before move-in and the door decs and bulletin boards are done. All I have left to do is hope that they will learn as much from me as I will be learning from them this year.

Seven days. That’s all it took to find where I belong.


Community shows up to run in honor of Boston victims

Runners start the commemorative jog at the beginning of the Huckleberry Trail on the corner of Draper Road and Miller Street.

Runners start the commemorative jog at the beginning of the Huckleberry Trail on the corner of Draper Road and Miller Street.

The mood was energized Monday night, as members of the community gathered to show support for those affected by the explosions in Boston last week by walking or running on the Huckleberry Trail.

The Runners for Boston runs are organized as part of a national effort by the Independent Running Retailers Association (IRRA).

At 6:30 p.m., Cortney Martin and Kirsten Thompson Mosby, who ran the marathon last week, spoke of their experiences, followed by a moment of silence at 6:42 p.m. to remember those injured or killed in Boston, as well as those in West Texas affected by the fertilizer plant explosion.

“Running is a lot about freedom and getting out in the world and being unencumbered and just going… this was such an affront and assault to what we love and value,” Martin said.

Thompson Mosby and her husband traveled to Boston with their children to run the marathon.

“I think sometimes the worst things bring out so much good in people,” Mosby said. “It was really humbling to know that in such a moment of tragedy there’s a lot of good still.”

The participants last night gathered for different reasons, but all shared the underlying hope of solidarity.

Sophomore health, nutrition, foods and exercise major Shacoria Winston participated last night to show her respect for the victims in Boston.

“It’s a time to promote unity amongst our campus again,” Winston said. “I feel like we’re used to tragedy and we’re used to events of this nature so the things that occurred in Boston are similar to what we have experienced. We need to show respect for them and show support in the same way that everyone else around the country has shown for us.”

Brett Sherfy — a graduate student in math education — sported blue and yellow, the colors of the Boston Marathon, while he ran Monday night.

“Races have always been a safe, energetic environment and I think that was all kind of taken away last Monday,” said Sherfy. “(The Boston Marathon) is still going to be the pinnacle of marathon running, but it’s never going to be the same.”

Runabout Sports, a member of the IRRA, hosted the event for the area and sold “Runners for Boston” t-shirts with 100 percent of the proceeds going to One Fun Boston aiding victims of the tragedy.

Owner of Runabout Sports, James DeMarco, called the Boston Marathon a celebration of life and endorses running as a good way to express emotions.

“One of the worst things you can do is dwell on things,” DeMarco said. “Running is definitely a proven way to get rid of…stress. If everybody ran more often I think we’d have a lot less violence in the world.”

Runabout Sports donated $300 to cover the cost of making the shirts and hope to raise $1,000 for the charity from sales.

One Fund Boston will distribute money to families most affected by the Boston Marathon explosions.

The cost of an amputation procedure ranges from $20,000-$60,000 with the average cost of a prosthesis being anywhere between a few thousand dollars and $40,000.

One Fund Boston has already raised over $10 million to donate to victims and families.

DeMarco predicts that next year the marathon will see more runners than ever before.

Martin is determined to return to run in Boston again next year and Sherfy hopes to qualify for the marathon one day.

“(At Virginia Tech) we have a really good understanding of uniting together after a tragic event,” Sherfy said. “I’ve seen what a community can do after (tragedy).”

State Board of Health finalizes regulations for abortion clinics

ImageOn Friday April 12, the Virginia State Board of Health voted 11-2 in favor of finalizing regulations for health and safety standards of abortion clinics that opponents fear could force some facilities to close.

Located just off of North Main Street, the local Planned Parenthood could face closure if they don’t comply with the new regulations.

Read our previous coverage on these regulations.

“They are an unfortunate and unnecessary intrusion into patient services,” said Cianti Stewart-Reid, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, of the law.

The regulations will require that any facility where five or more first-trimester abortions per month are performed, must meet the minimum standards for construction set for new hospital buildings.

In 2012, the Blacksburg Planned Parenthood provided 104 induced terminations of pregnancy.

Many pro-choice groups are concerned about the effect on Planned Parenthood facilities across the state, which provide a range of health services ranging from oral contraceptives, treatment of STDs and cancer screenings to abortions.

“It has the potential to (cause health centers to close) if they’re unable to comply with the restrictions,” said Stewart-Reid. “As a result, women would lose access to all the other services that are also provided at those centers.”

Among the regulations, those regarding design and construction could prove costly for many health centers.

However, President of the Virginia Society for Human Life Olivia Gans Turner does not foresee Planned Parenthood facilities closing due to the costs associated with regulated changes.

“Planned Parenthood has made a lot of noise… and yet Planned Parenthood will not shut its doors,” said Gans Turner. “They make a great deal of money off this business.”

Planned Parenthood, which receives money from the federal government, reported excess revenue of over $87 million for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. That same year, federal funding provided over $524 million to the organization.

The law states that the health centers will be required to maintain structural standards that include a five-foot width for public hallways, larger janitorial closets and a minimum of four parking spaces for each surgical room in the facility.

Opposition claims the regulations are a way to restrict women’s access to abortion.

“I think there’s no doubt that (the regulations) are politically motivated, and they clearly put politics above women’s health,” Stewart-Reid said.

Gans Turner, who has had an abortion, supports the actions of legislators.

“The Virginia Society of Human Life is very pleased with the (actions of the legislature) two years ago, making this proposal an effective law,” said Gans Turner. “The fact that the General Assembly saw fit to provide this protection for women… under the law, I think is a positive move.”

There have been additional arguments that the structural regulations in particular are not medically necessary.

“I’m disappointed that the Board of Health… did not listen to the medical experts who’ve made it very clear that these regulations are not medically necessary and will not improve women’s health care,” Stewart-Reid said.

The chair of the Board of Health and representative for EMS, Bruce Edwards, thinks otherwise, due to his experience in EMS.

“I think that the whole purpose of this… is to ensure that the places are safe and they are clean,” said Edwards. “From the standpoint of the structure, there needs to be adequate room in all these facilities so we can work on and take care of the patient.”

According to Edwards, each of the 20 abortion clinics in Virginia were issued licenses with corrective notices for simple fixes like placement of hand wash basins and sanitation aspects, as well as for more complicated, structural issues.

While changes to health care facilities in accordance with these regulations will be made by summer 2014, only one facility has expressed that it will not be able to comply with new regulations.

Upon inspections by the state medical examiner, 12 of the 20 clinics are in the process of, or are already in compliance.

Virginia is not alone in creating these types of regulations. Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Arkansas and Pennsylvania have adopted similar laws.

The recent death of a woman during an abortion procedure has provoked Maryland legislators to take action as well.

“This is a preventative and protective, reasonable action that is warranted. Unchecked abortion (clinics) sometimes become… unwilling to protect the women who walk into their doors,” Gans Turner said.

Planned Parenthood representatives assure pro-choice advocates that the organization will not be shut down overall.

The Blacksburg location for Planned Parenthood and the Roanoke Health Center are not sure how these regulations will affect their business or facilities just yet.

The Virginia Department of Health held a public comment period for two months in which over 6,000 comments were submitted. Of these comments, over 4,000 were in opposition to the new regulations.

Ten Virginia Senators, who originally voted in favor of the legislation in 2011, have recently expressed disapproval of the finalized regulations.

In a statement from nine of those senators, they said “The Attorney General’s office is incorrect in their interpretation… the (legislation) never required existing facilities to need new construction codes.”

Twenty-eight public commenters also shared the opinion that existing facilities be grandfathered in, and that construction guidelines should only apply to new health care facilities.

The Board of Health included a grandfather clause in its original write-up of regulations, however, they were forced to remove it in September 2012 after the General Attorney’s office deemed the clause was outside their realm of authority.

Medical professionals have also spoken out against the regulations.

“Such onerous and expensive structural facility requirements are not rationally related to enhancing the safety of first-trimester abortion procedure, nor prevent potential complications,” said Dr. Stephan Bendheim, chairman of the Department of OB/GYN at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital, in a comment to the Board of Health.

Twenty-two Virginia delegates as well as the former chair of the Virginia State Board of Health, Fred Hannett, spoke in opposition to the regulations as well.

Though the regulations have already been passed, pro-choice groups won’t give up the fight.

“We will continue to organize our supporters to speak out against these regulations and to hopefully get them overturned,” Stewart-Reid said.

Big Event 2013 gears up

The Big Event statsIt will be an early morning for 6,500 students on Saturday, as they gather to show their support for one of the largest student-run community service events in the country: the 12th annual Big Event at Virginia Tech.

Sponsored by Capital One, this year’s Big Event will feature speakers including Christina McClung of Capital One, an alumna and founder of the Big Event.

Doug Brainard, senior finance major and director of the Big Event team, calls the event “a big way to say ‘thank you’ to the community.”

Students will be assigned service projects such as washing windows, painting or yard work at residential and community locations throughout Blacksburg, Christiansburg and sometimes even as far as Roanoke.

“It’s an opportunity for students to embrace the school’s motto ‘Ut Prosim’ (while) redefining the typical college student to the skeptical homeowner in the area,” Brainard said.

Marcela Roy, a fifth-year senior environmental policy and planning major, who has participated in the event several times, has been assigned to plant gardens and fix a well at an elementary school in Christiansburg.

“The students would come out and they would help garden as well, so it connected us in that way,” Roy said. “We saw (how important) it was to the students.”

The event serves to revamp, and in some cases repair, the link between the students and faculty of the university and the residents of the surrounding community.

“Overall, I think it increases your relationship with the community,” said Roy. “I gained more knowledge of…what was lacking or what could be improved upon.”

However, the number of 6,500 volunteers for this year, made up primarily of Virginia Tech students, with help from faculty alumni and a few Blacksburg High School students, is down from last year’s 6,800.

Still, there is a general upward trend with projects and volunteers, according to Cody Watson, senior history major and co-director of projects for the Big Event.

Although the Big Event at Virginia Tech has been designated the largest event of its kind on the East Coast and second largest in the nation — only behind Texas A&M, where the event originated — there is still room for improvement.

This year, the Big Event team is focused on improving the internal structure by leaving some larger volunteer teams unassigned at first, to account for teams that don’t show up to be assigned projects.

“This year, we’re trying to ensure that someone at least sets foot at each project (site),” Watson said.

While there aren’t as many volunteers this year, the Big Event team is optimistic that there won’t be as many no-shows.

“There’s not much accountability if you take your project to actually show up to your job site, so we do the best we can with volunteers to keep them accountable,” Brainard said. “We’re hoping that we have a higher completion rate of our projects.”

Other improvements this year include the entertainment lineup.

The day will feature performances by the Low Techs, a cappella ensembles, and up-and-coming country star Nick Smith will be performing after the event.

“(It’s) bigger this year than it has been in the past,” Watson said.

However, one of the biggest problems the Big Event team will have to deal with on the day of the event is homeowner-volunteer relations.

“Having to…hold peers responsible…to represent the school, to represent the Big Event, is a project,” Watson said. “We’ve been dealing with the homeowners for the entire year, but now…the main interaction they get is with the volunteers, so we have to make sure…that goes well, or else it’s a bad reflection on the whole ordeal.”

Nevertheless, Brainard assures that every year, satisfaction with the event among members of the community is very high.

“I think if you were to go to most homeowners that were surrounded by a bunch of students, you might hear a lot of horror stories,” Brainard said. “This definitely works toward redefining that stereotype to try to make it a positive interaction where we’re not two separate bodies. We’re all residents of Blacksburg.”

New Virginia law allows for restrictive membership

The story you’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived!

To read about the struggle, click here.

Photo Illustration by BradA new Virginia law on student organizations at public colleges is rousing feedback from critics and causing student groups at Virginia Tech to take public action.

The law, passed last week, would give student organizations the ability to base membership decisions off of whether a person’s religious or political beliefs align with those of the organization.

The law states that religious or political based student groups can decide that “only people committed to the organization’s mission” are allowed to join or run for leadership positions. Public universities are prohibited from “discriminating against a student organization that makes such a determination” about its core functions.

Some, though, are questioning the motives of those supporting the bill, and are concerned about the effects it will have on the LGBT community and religious groups especially.

“I think it’s a well-crafted way to allow student organizations to discriminate,” said Caroline Sapyta, junior environmental resource management major and president of the LGBTA.

Michael Sutphin, member of the Blacksburg Town Council, board member at Equality Virginia and Virginia Tech alumnus, agreed.

“On its surface, the bill is written to make it sound like it is protecting freedom of speech or freedom of association,” Sutphin said. “Really, it’s a way for student groups to circumvent campus anti-discrimination policies.”

The bill passed in the Senate 22-18 and in the House 73-27 in February. The votes fell mostly along party lines in the Senate, with four Democrats voting in favor of the bill, and Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the legislation into law last week.

However, not all students see the bill as a means of discrimination, but rather a way to ensure groups on campus are not threatened by lack of funding for being selective about membership.

Harrison Bergeron, sophomore biology major and vice president of the Libertarians at Virginia Tech, thinks that the bill can impact the LGBT community positively.

“A club (could) decide that they don’t want someone in their meetings, who for 90 minutes would say ‘whatever you’re doing is completely immoral’,” Bergeron said. “I would see it as a very positive thing, specifically for the gay community.”

Students react

The legislation has caused some student groups at Virginia Tech to take action.

Nick Onopa, senior public and urban affairs major and undergraduate representative to the Board of Visitors, helped draft a letter to be sent to McDonnell on behalf of BOV representatives asking him to veto the bill.

According to Onopa, the gist of the letter was that Tech, as an undergraduate study body, would not support the law because of the values of community and mission of the university to provide service to all, not just some.

According to Bergeron, the Libertarians at Virginia Tech planned to send a letter to the Commission on Student Affairs, whose members helped draft the letter to the governor, “to remind them they don’t speak on behalf of us.” They also planned to send a letter to the governor expressing their support of the law.

The Student Budget Board is also currently working on changing its bylaws to avoid funding groups who adopt discriminatory membership policies.

“We will not allocate funds to organizations that discriminate,” Onopa said.

All-Comers Policies and Hastings

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case Hastings Christian Fellowship v. Martinez. At the University of California at Hastings’ law school, a religious club required all members to subscribe to a statement of beliefs. The school then denied the organization recognition as a school club because of it.

The question in the case was whether or not public universities can use all-comers policies, or policies that require groups to accept all comers regardless of their beliefs, to deny official status and funding to groups.

With a 5-4 vote, the Court supported the all-comers policies, and the ability of a public institution to cut funding to, and even expel an organization, if the policy is not upheld.

This is exactly what Virginia’s new law intends to avoid.

According to Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-26th) who proposed the bill, it was meant to protect freedoms of assembly and association in student organizations in response to Hastings and to clarify Virginia’s position on all-comers policies at public universities.

“I think (groups who don’t like the law) are seeing demons where they don’t exist,” Obenshain said. “It doesn’t do what some of these groups that are criticizing it seem to think that it does. I hope they will be reassured.”

This law is not the first legislation of its kind. Ohio adopted a similar law last year banning “all-comers” policies.

All-comers policies became a problem at Vanderbilt University last year, when fifteen Christian groups lost their funding and access to facilities after refusing to confirm the new policy.

“It protects the freedom of association that is inherent in the first amendment … which, presumably, is a value worth preserving,” Obenshain said.

Obenshain assures the law has a neutral viewpoint, protecting the rights of every group equally, and is also not meant to undermine current protections in place by state and federal law.

“This (law) protects the LGBT groups just like it does some group with conflicting values,” Obenshain said. “I would think they’d want to limit membership and leadership to people who want to protect the LGBT values and protect the rights of the LGBT community,” Obenshain said.

The rights of groups: to exclude or to not exclude?

There are those who support and oppose the exclusivity of student organizations. Obenshain, however, thinks students should be able to meet exclusively.

“I believe that student groups … ought to be free to organize on the basis of shared beliefs,” Obenshain said. “I think that’s an important part of college experience and college life and academic and personal freedom.”

Sutphin, though, points to a different part of the college experience.

“(You) are supposed to be able to interact with people with different beliefs than you,” Sutphin said. “Clubs are exactly the kind of place where … it would be good to engage in those kinds of dialogues about religion, politics, sexuality and those sorts of issues.”

Bergeron, however, believes groups should have the right to restrict membership to students who agree with their mission.

“The point of having a club isn’t to have everybody and their mothers in it,” Bergeron said. “It’s designed for a specific group of people who believe a certain thing … and you have a right to assemble in the way that you wish to.”

The law will go into effect on July 1, 2013.

Bill sitting on Gov. McDonnell’s desk to affect student organizations

Thursday, February 28, 2013

To read the follow up piece on this legislation, featuring an exclusive interview with the senator who sponsored the bill, click here.

To read about my frustration with writing the follow up piece to this story, click here. -This one is probably more dramatic and entertaining than the actual article.


Policy changes are currently underway in the Virginia General Assembly that will affect every student organization in Virginia’s public universities.

The bill, known as SB 1074, allows religious and politically centered student organizations to determine membership based on whether an individual’s political and religious beliefs align with those of the organization.

The Senate of Virginia passed the legislation on Feb. 5 with 22 votes in favor and 18 against.

“I interpret it as only applying to religious and political organizations in the language, but it can be taken in many different directions and probably manipulated just like any law can,” said sophomore Kylie Gilbert, finance and accounting major and president of Residence Hall federation. “Once you open that door for discrimination against people based on their beliefs, then that could get out of control,”

The bill, pertaining to public institutions of higher education, also prohibits those institutions from discriminating against organizations that implement these policies.

“With certain organizations — unless that organization is infringing on certain policies of the school — the college probably shouldn’t be able to tell them what they can or cannot do in a sense of who they allow in depending on their own rules,” said sophomore Jaxon Taylor, biology pre-med major.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican state Senator Mark Obenshain, is an alumnus of Virginia Tech and is married to a member of the Tech Board of Visitors, where she serves as committee chair of the Academic Affairs Committee.

In the Virginia House of Delegates, legislation HB 1617, identical to SB 1074, was passed by a vote of 73 to 27 on Feb. 18 and was signed by the Speaker of the House, Republican William J. Howell, on Feb. 21.

One of the main points of controversy surrounding the bill is its potential to restrict members of the LGBT community from participation in certain religious organizations.

On Thursday, the Commission of Student Affairs discussed the legislation in reference to its relevance to the Tech community and possible action to take against it.

“I believe that it violates Virginia Tech’s principles of community and the aspirations for student learning because curiosity means being able to learn from a bunch of different perspectives and that’s why we have student organizations,” Gilbert said.

According to Nick Onopa, junior public and urban affairs major serving as undergraduate representative for the Board of Visitors, a letter is currently being drafted on behalf of all student organizations in Virginia asking the Governor to veto the bill.

If the bill gets passed, there has already been discussion in the budget board of cutting funding to any organization at Tech that implements such discrimination protected by the bill in their policies.

Patty Perillo, vice president for student affairs, expects this movement to receive national attention.

“This is a moment in time where CSA and students’ power is really taking hold,” Perillo said. “I’ve been struck at times where students don’t have the sense of their agency and their power, you as students have incredible power to make changes at this institution and state-wide.”

Virginia Tech Symphonic Wind Ensemble to Play at Carnegie Hall

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My first front-page, headline story for the Collegiate Times!

Symphonic Wind Ensemble performance at the Kennedy Center in 2011.

Symphonic Wind Ensemble performance at the Kennedy Center in 2011.

The Virginia Tech Symphonic Wind Ensemble will travel to Carnegie Hall to perform for the New York International Music Festival this April, but not without the support of local businesses and a Kickstarter online donation campaign.

The Symphonic Wind Ensemble performed at the Kennedy Center in 2011 under an organization called World Projects, who also puts on the New York International Music Festival every year as well as several other music festivals in different venues.

“I believe that they saw that we are a good ensemble,” said junior Ben Lawson, president of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and saxophone player. “I would consider us miles ahead of where we were two years ago. We carry that Virginia Tech pride and show it through our music.”

After receiving the invitation to play in the festival last year, the music department agreed to fund the costs associated with the performance venue at Carnegie Hall. However, students were also responsible for paying their share as well. According to Travis Cross, conductor of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and assistant professor of music, it was necessary to leave a “small component that will be up to the students to fund individually.”

The Symphonic Wind Ensemble has held fundraising events at the local Buffalo Wild Wings, Frosty Parrot and Moe’s and has also raised money through events like Honor Band and Bandarama, which showcase the music department.

“The local businesses have really given graciously of their venues to create opportunities for us to fundraise and we’re very appreciative for that,” said senior Laura Schneider, bass clarinet player and vice president of the ensemble.

Along with fundraising nights at local restaurants and contributions from Hipeak Sportswear, the group also created a page on Kickstarter, a website aimed at helping projects raise money.

“The idea behind the Kickstarter was to give those students another opportunity to raise some money to help support their participation in the trip and,” Cross said. “It’s been very successful.”

In addition to fundraising efforts, the Elemental Winds, a smaller ensemble comprised of musicians in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, spread the word about their invitation to Carnegie Hall by performing live on 101.5 fm, a radio station in the Roanoke area.

“It’s refreshing, as a music major, to see people who understand how important (the arts) are to the community as a whole,” Lawson said.

Without fundraising, it would have cost several hundred dollars for each student to be able to travel with the ensemble.

“What we’re trying to do is to raise money so that the student cost is as low as humanly possible,” Schneider said.

The ensemble members, along with the officers, have volunteered to help in the effort.

“It’s really nice getting some of the ensemble members to volunteer (for the events), it brought all of us together and made it an ensemble effort rather than all the officers doing the work,” Lawson said. “We wanted everybody to be involved. It’s not about us, the officers, it’s about all of us in the ensemble.”

The Symphonic Wind Ensemble has been promoting the Kickstarter through social media and word of mouth.

As of yet, they have collected $1,725 in donations through Kickstarter, which is $225 more than the minimum goal of $1,500 set by the Wind Ensemble’s student organization. The amount of success from the Kickstarter came unexpectedly.

“We reached our goal in five days,” said Lawson, “which really shows the willingness of people to support the art community.”

All 50 students in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, mostly comprised of music majors, will be able to travel to New York City for the performance.

“We wanted it to be an opportunity, so if you’re a good enough musician and you make it in the ensemble, you travel with it to Carnegie Hall, we didn’t want…to turn away some of the best musicians because of a money problem,” said Schneider.

Among those performing at the festival will be the Los Angeles Children’s Orchestra, Calle Mayor Wind Ensemble and Tesoro Strings.

“We’re really thrilled about the opportunity to go play in a world-class performance space and to go take Virginia Tech on the road,” Cross said.

The Symphonic Wind Ensemble will be performing the showcase ensemble at the end of the night, following three high school and middle school groups from all over the country.

“It’s going to be an all-American program,” Cross said.

The opening piece will be the “Overture to Candide” by Leonard Bernstein, which was originally premiered in Carnegie Hall, followed by a piece that Cross wrote called “Memento.”

The performance will also premiere a piece by Tech alumnus Scott McKenzie, currently an assistant conductor for the United States Army Field Band. The piece, called “Groovy Loops,” will be conducted by Dave McKee, director of the Marching Virginians. The closing piece will be David Maslanka’s “Symphony No. 4.”

“It is going to be so incredible to get on the stage at Carnegie Hall ready to prove why we should be playing there,” Schneider said.

Cross anticipates a similar turnout at Carnegie Hall as they had at the Kennedy Center two years ago of students, family members and band directors.

“It’s nice to go into one of these places that has a lot of history, that has great acoustic[s] and share our music around the world,” Cross said.

The Symphonic Wind Ensemble also expects to travel to local high schools to put on music programs after the International Music Festival, similar to in past years.

“We are not just doing what’s expected of us,” Schneider said. “We’re expected to play on campus and to do all those things and we are certainly supported and have those opportunities without cost to us. We are able to do commencement tours and outreach to high schools in Virginia, but this is an effort to do what we’re capable of, not just what’s expected of us and so in going above and beyond what is the status quo you incur a little more financial commitment.”

According to Schneider, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble is rapidly approaching a minimal student cost and has significantly decreased the expected financial contribution of each musician.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to perform in a fantastic place,” Lawson said, “and something that you as a musician truly do live for.”