One of the most educational experiences for any high school student is the opportunity to leave his or her hometown. For Olivet students who have never left the state of Michigan, driving through the Appalachian Mountains and seeing the swamps of Florida can be week’s worth of education in just a few days. Dave and Lynn Funk, the band directors at Olivet Public Schools, know this to be true after six trips to Florida with the Olivet High School bands.

The Olivet marching band has participated in Disney parades before. It’s one of the largest stages the band students will experience in their time with the Olivet band. Thousands of people line the streets of the Magic Kingdom while nearly 100 students from a small Michigan town march and play tunes from their competition repertoire. It’s a sight to see, according to the Funks, and it’s an experience they know their students won’t soon forget.

The Funks aim to take their students on a Disney trip every four years. They plan the trips with the mindset of leaving no student behind, and so far they’ve achieved that goal for every trip. This year, however, the band booster funds aren’t where they’ve been in the past. There are still about seven students who are in need of the final funds to go on the trip, which is fast approaching for mid-November.

It’s discouraging to the Funks to think some students may not be able to participate. Dave likened missing students to a smile with missing teeth. It may have been a beautiful smile with all the teeth, but when even one is gone you only notice the empty space.

“When we go out there and one student isn’t there, you notice that hole, whether it be in the sound or in the visual part when you’re watching them march. You see that. Not only does that affect the visual and audio, but that affects the students all around that hole,” said Dave.

The band is like a family, according to the Funks. Missing students goes beyond the sound and visual presentations of the performance, but also affects the morale and enjoyment and participation of students who made it on the trip. Dave and Lynn want to hold true to the mindset that brought hundreds of students to Disney in years previous. They hope more donors from the community will step forward and help provide a memorable, educational, and cultural experience for their band members.

Along with marching in a parade, the jazz band will perform a set at a Disney dinner venue, and the orchestra will get to attend a workshop at the EPCOT Center where they’ll record tunes from their favorite Disney movies. The trip is an artistic and cultural experience to say the least.

Readers who are interested and willing to donate for the trip can contact the Funks via email, or, or call (269) 749-3671 ext. 2609 and 2633. The cost of trip is about $880 per student, and the Funks crunched every penny to ensure the most cost effective trip possible.

From this reporter’s perspective, band trips are among the most memorable high school experiences. I am grateful for those trips and opportunities to play outside my home football field and auditorium.