OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Many people only dream of performing at Carnegie Hall. That dream is coming true for the choir at Ocean Springs Middle School, but the students need the community's help to make that dream a reality.
Kim Walley never expected to be contacted by officials of a concert series in the Big Apple. A representative from Distinguished Concerts International New York gave Walley a call after watching a video of her choir online.
The call was an invite for her choir to perform at Carnegie Hall with students from around the world. Walley applied, and the choir was accepted.
"I waited until we got approval, and then one of my fabulous principals came down to the classroom with me, and we told them about it," said Walley.
Principal Adelle Register knows this kind of honor can't be overlooked.
"For them to be recognized, not just in the U.S., but internationally is an amazing opportunity for them," said Register.
Register and Walley remember the day they broke the news to the kids.
"Some of the kids actually cried. There were a lot of squeals, a lot of giggles, and they're still really excited," said Walley.
Overall, 73 students will be working to raise the $1,800. The excitement is easy to see.
"I'm looking forward to being able to go on that stage and representing our school and our state," said eighth grader Andrew Szumigala.
Another eighth grader, Ashley Williams, said singing is her passion, and this trip is a dream come true.
"It makes me feel like, wow, we really are something now," said Williams.
It's mind blowing to Williams that she and her classmates will be performing with 300 other singers from around the globe.
For some, like Sydney Kulo, this kind of trip is a first. Kulo has never been on an airplane, and at first didn't know much about the trip.
"My mom was like, 'Hey, look at this,' and I was like, 'What's Carnegie Hall,' and she was like, 'Are you serious," said Kulo.
Her mom showed her pictures and told her all about the famed performance venue. Now, Kulo knows how significant the opportunity is.
This is the kind of experience that Walley wanted to provide for her students when she started building the middle school's choir program less than five years ago.
"I think that they needed to know that all their hard work has paid off," said Walley.
Now, the students need help from the community to make their trip happen. Their first fundraiser is a barbecue get together Sunday in downtown Ocean Springs from noon to 6 p.m. Plates are $10.
The choir will also be holding a concert on Oct. 7, at Ocean Springs High School at 7 p.m. where donations will be accepted.
Donations will also be accepted at the school anytime during the day. If interested, call 228-872-6210.