Hawaii Trip Forces Ripley Students To 'Think Big'

Thursday, September 1st 2011, 9:50 pm
By: News 9

Darren Brown, News 9

RIPLEY, Oklahoma -- To the untrained eye, there's not much happening in Ripley Oklahoma. That is, unless you visit the school.

It's a long way from the Ripley band room to even Oklahoma City, but the band is thinking much bigger than that these days. Matter of fact, they're thinking about Hawaii.

"It's kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing, especially for a small school like us," said junior Emily Elliott.  "Ripley's a little dot on the map," laughed senior Amber Prince.

The Ripley high school band, about 40 strong--and that includes eighth-graders--has been invited to perform at a 70-year memorial at Pearl Harbor this year.

For Elliott and others, the past few months have flown by.

"At first, it seems like you have a long time to earn the money," she said.  "But it goes fast".  Sophomore Jared Walker said "A week feels like a month."

While Ripley's band director, Kent Taylor, is concerned about the money, he's more concerned that his students get the experience.

"When students come from a little town, sometimes they just feel like they have a lot of limitations that they don't necessarily have," he said.

The limitations his students do have to deal with are financial. It's been a struggle to raise the money needed in this little town of about 500, but they've found some ways.

"I raised and peddled watermelons and cantaloupes over my summer," said Elliott.  Walker remembers the band serving pancakes and orange juice at a community breakfast. 

This Hawaii trip has forced Taylor's students to think outside the box, but he's hoping for the opportunity to teach just a little more.

"It'll open the door for them to think big from now on," Taylor said.