Waltrip Alumni Association

WALTRIP RAM BAND

SEE PICTURES OF THE BAND'S TRIP TO WASHINGTON, D.C.

Our Waltrip Ram Band participated in Inaugural Events in Washington D.C.. What a great group of Waltrip students who represented our school, Houston, and the State of Texas

It's a dream come true: Waltrip kids pack bags for D.C.

By Claudia Feldman | January 14, 2013 | Updated: January 15, 2013 7:55am

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Trombone player Eduardo Gutierrez, 18, foreground, practices with the Waltrip High School Ram Band's jazz ensemble, which is raising money for a trip to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration. With seven days until their deadline, the band still needs $40,000.

Photo: Mayra Beltran, Staff / © 2012 Houston Chronicle

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Trombone player Eduardo Gutierrez, 18, foreground, practices with the Waltrip High School Ram Band's jazz ensemble, which is raising money for a trip to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration. With seven days until their deadline, the band still needs $40,000.

Photo: Mayra Beltran, Staff / © 2012 Houston Chronicle

Photo By Mayra Beltran/Staff

The Waltrip High School Ram Band is bound for Washington, D.C.

With help from generous Houstonians, the band raised a final $40,000 in just two days. They stared in disbelief as their congresswoman, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, marched into band hall, took the baton from director Jesse Espinosa's hands and gave the assembled group the good news.

"There were cheers and a few tears, too," he said.

This ultimate band adventure began last spring, when the group received an invitation to participate in inaugural activities in the nation's capital. The band had never before attempted such an ambitious effort: Transportation, lodging and food for 141 students costs $150,000. With one week to go, gifts and student-run fundraising projects totaled $110,000.

It was clear more car washes and popcorn sales weren't going to make up the difference. Instead, the band staged a four-hour concert and asked all Houstonians to consider donations of a dollar or two.

The Houston Chronicle reported on the band's efforts, as did other media outlets, and the whole city, it seemed, was charmed by students who know the meaning of hard work and dedication.

Espinosa said people from throughout the area attended Thursday night's concert, and some didn't even stay to listen. They simply stuffed the fishbowl set out for donations.

Some really did give $1. But a few wrote checks for $1,000, and attorney Steve Mostyn contributed $10,000.

Mostyn got a call from Jackson Lee when the students were $10,000 shy of their goal. As Jackson Lee talked to the kids in the band hall, Mostyn was on a speaker phone.

"I reminded them of the significance of what they were going to do, and to stay involved and to register to vote when they turn 18," he said. "These kids worked real hard. They just needed a little bit of help, and I was happy to provide it."

In Washington, the students will perform at the United States Marine Corps War Memorial, the Old Post Office Pavilion and the Black Tie and Boots Presidential Inaugural Ball. They'll attend the inauguration and Jackson Lee has promised a tour of the Capitol.

"It's wonderful for the kids to know that absolute strangers are pulling for them," Espinosa said. "I'm floored. The kids and I don't know what to say except thank you."

Until Thursday morning, when the buses pull away from the school, the kids will not be celebrating, he said. They'll be practicing.

 

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