Several Shakopee High School organizations offer amazing opportunities for students to go overseas, including the band, choir, and foreign language clubs. For many of these students, the trip is one of their highlights of high school. This year, the band was supposed to go to Ireland from March 26th through April 3rd to enjoy famous sites like the Blarney Castle and visit historic cities, including Dublin, while performing concerts.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus put an abrupt end to those spring break plans. That’s when things got problematic. The third-party company handling the trip, at about $3,500 per person, did not simply refund the money. Instead, the trip has been postponed to next fall—after the current seniors have graduated.

“Right now, people who can’t go in the fall are trying to figure out how to get their money back,” Nick Sutton, a senior and a percussionist in the band, told me. “From what I know, about 90 percent of seniors are intending to go in the fall. For selected ones who can’t go or don’t want to go, one approach is for them to sell their spot to new upcoming students.”

He doesn’t have any hard feelings toward the tour company. “I imagine they’re trying their hardest to make this right,” Sutton said. “It’s definitely a bit of a bummer that we couldn’t go a few weeks ago, but it’s pretty much out of our control so it’s not worth getting upset about, so we’re making the best of this.”

One issue for seniors planning to attend college next semester is that the trip could interfere with midterms. Sutton, who will be enrolled at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., to study computer science, is planning on going on the trip and despite the disappointment of it being postponed, remains excited. To his credit, he proactively reached out to one of his college professors to discuss missing classes.

“How it’s working is I’ve exchanged emails with a professor, and the college is being lenient about it,” he said. “For me, when I get back from Ireland, it will be fall break so I will be able to catch up.”

Sutton, who plans on playing percussion in college, worked to pay for about half of the trip costs himself. His parents, who are scheduled to go on the trip as chaperones, paid the other half.

“I had a couple of jobs,” he said. “I worked at Valley Fair for two years and also worked at Hy-Vee.”

This will be Sutton’s first trip overseas. He’s most excited about experiencing Ireland with his friends.

“Band has been fun. What I like about it the most is you’re coming together with your friends and collaborating with your friends,” Sutton said. “What I’m most looking forward to about Ireland is not one specific thing. I’m looking forward to looking at the architecture and seeing the cities. I want to experience other peoples’ cultures and people watch.”

While some of his friends are on the fence about if they still want to or will be able to take the trip, he said most of his friends are planning on going. He’s hopeful that the trip will take place without any more setbacks.

“I’d rather go in the fall than not go at all. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for so long,” Sutton said. “It’s an inconvenience to go in the fall, but I’m looking forward to it, so it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. I hope it turns out well and everything will calm done so we can go. I’m crossing my fingers that we won’t have to worry about this.”


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