The New England music class set sights on San francisco

Starting in the early 2000’s, two schools decided to combine their musical talents and form the Southwest Marching Band.

Chicago Music 1

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor |

Starting in the early 2000’s, two schools decided to combine their musical talents and form the Southwest Marching Band. South Heart and Belfield got together and performed during a parade in Bismarck, N.D. one year.

The small group has now grown, and expanded their reach beyond Bismarck.

In  2011 discussions began to start about making it bigger, now the group stands between eight and nine schools.

Desiring to expand the musical exposure of its students, the group has since organized various field trips since 2012, and now they’re reaching a little farther.

In 2012 they went to Minneapolis, Minn. and just this year in 2014 they went to Chicago, Ill. But in 2016 their thoughts are a bit further then the Mid-West. In 2016 the group will head to San Francisco, Calif.

While on the west coast, Conway Heupel said the students will get to see the sights and attractions but the main focus will be performing and learning. Heupel is the music teacher at New England Public School.

Though he doesn’t have them scheduled yet, Heupel prefers to have his group perform at least three times during these trips.

“It’s a four day trip, I want to at least get in three performances,” Heupel said.

Another neat portion of the trip is the master class. The master class is where the group is able to attend a college or university and learn from its conductor.

“A university will accept us, and we’ll play for the conductor and then he’ll give the students feedback on things they did well, some things they need to work on, so it’s just a really good educational experience as well,” Heupel said.

Heupel said this has been a part of the last two trips as well.

The trip has steadily been growing from the New England aspect, according to Heupel. In 2012 they took 11 students, and in 2014 they took 28. For the 2016 trip the San Francisco he’s looking at a group of 40 music students from New England. Overall Heupel said between 120 and 130 kids from the area would be attending the trip.

Selecting the location is a group effort. Heupel looks into three different destinations and gets a travel itinerary together. Then he sends it out to the students for feedback and voting. Which ever spot gets the most votes wins.

So how to the generate funds for the trips?


They usually travel by bus, but this year they’re looking at the flying options, and even though Heupel said he usually waits for the year of the trip to begin raising money, this time they’ve already started. The trip is going to cost nearly $80,000 to fund.

The group sponsored the meal during the Home Town Holiday event. They participated in the Christmas Goodie Walk and have been doing concessions at the sporting events. Heupel said much more has yet to be planned, but he’s hoping to do a carwash or two, and even get up to the Dickinson area for some fundraising events.

When you’re taking a group of students a cross the country you’re going to need chaperones. Including Heupel, parents, community members and even teacher volunteer to accompany the students on these educational adventures. Huepel said they keep the ratio at eight students to one chaperone.

Heupel said the students put a lot of time and energy into the trip leading up the actual departure date, and added that it’s all worth it.

“It’s a huge payoff and a huge reward once we finally get to go on the tour,” Heupel said. “That’s what makes it so great.”

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