If there is ever a chance for a student in high school to go to Europe, maybe with a group for an educational experience, by all means, they should go, if they can! That is exactly what Kendall Hibbs from Cut Bank and Taylee Rides at The Door and BreeAnna Polk, both from Browning thought after their most recent European adventure.
The three high school girls were nominated by their respective choir directors to go on a trip overseas to sing and be a part of a very large group of choir and band students selected from Montana and North Dakota.
“This year, the trip was for kids in Montana and North Dakota,” explained Kendall. “Kids at freshman in high school level through sophomores in college were picked by their choir directors and if they wanted to go, they were in.” When all was said and done and counted, there were over 300 students making this trip this year.
Kendall, who will be a junior this fall at Cut Bank High School, is the daughter of Darcy Hibbs and Rodney Hibbs. She was joined on the trip with BreeAnna, who will also be a junior this fall but at Browning High School and Taylee who will be a senior at Browning High School. BreeAnna is the daughter of Brandie Blane and Jim Polk and Taylee is the daughter of Misty Rides at The Door.
Once the nominations were in, the three girls and the other Montana contingent, met in Livingston in mid-June to learn the music they would be singing and playing while in Europe and to meet their fellow travelers and chaperones.
“That was only the second time I had met Bree and Tay,” Kendall said. It did not take long, however, after that second meeting for this trio to become fast friends.
On July 5, the musical troupe from both Montana and North Dakota met in Fargo, where they met the rest of the group from North Dakota and spent three days practicing all the wonderful pieces they would be singing or playing on their adventure. Then on July 9, over 300 kids and chaperones boarded a number of different flights with their first destination being London for all of them.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to go at first,” admitted BreeAnna. “But now, after doing everything we got to do and see, I am so glad I went. It was pretty cool to be nominated to go too.”
“I was so happy and so excited to be nominated to go on this trip,” Taylee said. “It was pretty overwhelming at first, but really fun once we got there.”
“There were six other kids nominated from Cut Bank to go, but I was the only one that chose to go,” Kendall said. “I was kind of shocked when they told me I was selected, but super excited to be able to do this.”
In the choir, Kendall and BreeAnna sing soprano and Taylee sings alto-one. Their voices blended with the amazing number of other singers that formed the choir and together with the band members too, all 300 kids produced an incredible sound.
London was their first stop on the trip that would take them to a total of six countries. “We spent three days at each place we stopped, except when we went to Italy. That was just a day trip,” Kendall said.
From London they went to Paris, then Switzerland, then off to Austria and then the one-day trip to Italy. They returned to Austria that day and then took off for Germany the next day. That was their final stop before returning home, on July 24.
Some of the students extended their trip by going sightseeing in Greece. BreeAnna was one of those that took advantage of the additional tour.
“We spent an additional three days in Greece seeing things there before we returned to Germany to fly home. There were about 100 kids out of the 300 that took the extra trip to Greece,” BreeAnna said.
At each stop, the choir sang and the band played in at least one place, mostly in churches, but they performed in a few other venues as well. The choir part of the group learned a total of 10 songs for the trip, with some of those even being sung in a different language.
“I think we liked most of the songs, but by the time we were done singing, we were all really tired of them,” Kendall said. Both Taylee and BreeAnna added a resounding, “So tired of them.”
The girls said the whole experience was incredible. Not only did they get to see so many wonderful things in each country, but it was also a huge learning experience seeing so many other cultures and how they live.
“We were reminded about how much crime they have there and they told us to keep our valuables safe and to be very aware of pickpockets,” BreeAnna said.
“We had to keep our passports on us all the time and most everyone wore them around their necks,” Taylee added.
“It was crazy busy everywhere we went and I really felt like we were the stupid tourist group,” Kendall said laughing. The girls once again agreed, saying, “Yup, we were the stupid tourists.”
When they were ready to call it a night, they spent those in hotels and most of the traveling from one country to the other was done via bus. The girls said it was all very well organized in that they knew what “color” of bus they were supposed to be on, which meant that group stayed at the same hotel and stayed together for the sightseeing too.
The kids had to adhere to a very strict dress code while on the trip, making sure they were representing not only their school, but their country very well.
A number of chaperones went with the choir and band students, which ended up being about eight kids to one chaperone. “Some of those were really great and others, well they weren’t so great,” Kendall said.
All in all, the girls said this was a trip of a lifetime and if they could do it all over again, they would, without hesitation.
“My favorite place was Switzerland,” Kendall said. “And the best part of the trip was getting to meet new people, make new friends and learn all about new cultures.”
Her least favorite part of the trip, “The chaperones,” she smiled.
Taylee said her favorite place “by far was Paris and being able to see the Eiffel Tower. That was really amazing. And it was also great meeting so many new people and making new friends.”
Her least favorite was having to “wear the passport carrier. That got old,” she said.
BreeAnna said her favorite place was Germany and “it was so great seeing a whole different way of life. It was also great making so many new friends.”
The thing BreeAnna liked the least, “the heat, without a doubt, the heat. It was so hot there.”
There were a number of amazing things that made this trip unforgettable, but perhaps the best thing was the friendship these three established.
“We roomed together the whole time and pretty soon they were calling us the ‘Terrible Three’ and maybe we were,” laughed Taylee.
“We are so lucky in that we are close enough that we can still see each other pretty much anytime. We made lots of new friends, but most of them are really far away, so we probably won’t see them as much,” BreeAnna said.
“It is so awesome and cool that we have become such swell friends and are only 30 minutes from each other,” Kendall said.
The three solidified their friendship by getting charms from each country to add to the charm bracelet they each wear.
It is hard to say if this trip will be a one-time thing for the “Terrible Three,” but if so, they have come away with so much. They made new friends, learned how to sing with a very large group and can put some of those new choir experiences to work as they return to their respective schools and sing once again with their fellow students from Cut Bank and Browning.