One hundred fifteen students of the Kayhi music department set sail to Juneau for Music Fest last night. The three-day festival will commence Thursday morning and will be hosted by Juneau-Douglas High School.
The regions tournament for Southeast Alaska high school music departments — minus the competition — was canceled for Kayhi due to the unavailability of a ferry. But through the efforts of the community, they managed to make it possible.
“The community went crazy. Lots of people came up with lots of solutions and called their legislators,” said Trina Purcell, head of the Choral Department at Kayhi. “Then they [the ferry system management] took the LeConte offline in Haines and brought it down here just for us.”
The ferry system was able to iron out the problems of what one would assume to be a logistics nightmare to transport the Kayhi Music Fest kids.
For seniors like McKenzie Thomas and Sarah Kuharich, this will be their last Music Fest.
“It was pretty rough almost having Music Fest not happen. You get super excited about the last one. You try to do everything you possibly can to make it the best,” said Thomas. “Having it get canceled kind of put a damper on it — I took it pretty hard, but that’s not a problem anymore.”
At the festival, clinics are offered where students attend a music class to learn something they wouldn’t necessarily learn at school. Some of the ones offered this year will be polka class, swing dancing, and acapella workshop.
Kuharich has always looked forward to the clinics, and this year is no exception.
“My absolute favorites clinics are the dance ones,” said Kuharich. “They’ve had swing dancing clinics the past few years. Everyone is excited for those.”
While it may be the region’s tournament for music, it certainly is different, competition wise. The rivalries don’t exist as much.
“No one is going to call someone out for being from JD or Kayhi,” said Thomas. “It’s a healthier version of regions. Everyone supports everyone.”
There is a certain bittersweetness to be had with the finale of any high school activity.
“It’s been such amazing part of my high school experience, and to have it come to an end is a little heartbreaking,” said Kuharich. “But we have an amazing group of kids this year, and I’m excited to perform with them at my last Music Fest.”