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2812 Ambleside Place

Cincinnati OH 45208
January 3, 2016

Mr. Jeffrey Brokamp, Principal

Walnut Hills High School
3250 Victory Parkway
Cincinnati OH 45207
Dear Mr. Brokamp:
As the Walnut Hills Marching Blue and Gold return from Paris, I wanted to take
this opportunity to let you know what a successful trip this was for students, staff,
and parents alike. It is my understanding that this trip was conceived three years
ago when the staff decided to bring cultural understanding to the students and to
bring Walnut music to the world. These goals were achieved to the highest level,
adhering to the school motto Sursum Ad Summum.
Walnuts band was a favorite among the French spectators and the French
appreciated the show of support from Americans. Walnut was on the Paris news
and our group received kudos from Youth Music coordinator as the best group to
work with, ever. After having the chance to witness other bands, I would have to
Charles Ferrara demonstrated incredible leadership throughout. He sees the
tremendous potential within each student. He challenges these teens to strive for
their personal best musically and in life. Mr. Ferrara expected greatness out of the
band members and they delivered. Our coordinator, Naomi, applauded him as the
BEST band director and presented him with a crystal plaque. He communicated
well with the chaperons, supporters, and students to ensure everyones safety and
The staff was exemplary in their professionalism. Rick Canter showed leadership,
patience and encouragement throughout the trip, this being his first band trip
outside the US. Danny Manning was presented with a special coin from the
Ambassador mayor of Paris for his efforts in keeping the whole parade moving
smoothly. Scottie McEvoy demonstrated a consistent positive outlook and
maintained a cheerful helpfulness.
The chaperones, including Lori Ware, Andy and Lisa Knapp, Eric von Bargen
Nicole Dyehouse, Erynn Townsend and Katy Jansen, worked tirelessly to ensure the
safety of students. The chaperones had extensive knowledge of each students
personality and needs. Their flexibility balanced with firmness kept everyone safe
but with enough freedom for each student to individualize the experience. I have so

much gratitude toward Andy Knapp and Charles Ferrara, among others, for hours of
careful planning and coordinating. Every detail was considered and well thought out
down to the last detail from plane seating, room taping, group assignments to
excursions. These excursions were well-executed, safe and interesting with good
pacing through the week.
Supporters provided an extra layer of safety and oversight, while cheering
the students with gusto. The support of families and staff at home could also be felt
as we provided nearly live feed from the parade and families provided feedback
from home. Truly the world is a little smaller when a parent in Cincinnati can see
photos and video of their child performing in real time in Paris.
This trip overcame major hurdles after the terrorist attacks. There was a lot of
concern about whether this trip should even be carried out. We all had to take
measure of our own fears and deal with the uncertainty of whether we would go to
Paris. One student commented, After all the talk, I was expecting a war zone in
Paris. Instead, we found a peaceful, delightful city that embraced our supportive
American presence and our tourism at a time when Paris was hurting.
Student Keaysio Jackson (11th grade) had never been out of the US before and said
of her experience: It was great!! I enjoyed trying new things and getting out of my
comfort zone. Being in the parade was an adrenaline rush! I loved seeing how
excited the spectators were. I always felt safe.
Thank you so much for supporting this trip. We all appreciate your careful
consideration of the issues and your moderation of discussion. The largest team at
Walnut Hills High School has just represented our school farther away from home
than any other Walnut team. (Wow!) You have allowed these students the libert
to spread their wingsthese Eagles truly soared.
This was a trip that the kids and adults will never forget. One day, they will tell their
grandchildren that they once marched down the Champs Elyse in Paris. They will
have memories of cobblestone streets, cheering fans from literally all over the
world, all in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The sense of Trimphe over fear and all
barriers in this trip can only be symbolized by lArc in the background of our photos.
What a powerful lesson for these studentsand one that can only be taught in the
classroom of the world. Please join me in celebrating our Marching Blue and Gold.

Karen Huelsman
Parent of Heinrich Huelsman (18)

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