Friday, Jan. 16, 2009 | 5:10 p.m.
Members of Green Valley High School's marching band concentrated as they rehearsed Thursday after school, but they couldn't repress their smiles and laughter. In 12 hours, they would be on a plane to Washington, D.C., to march in President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration parade Tuesday.
There may have been some nervousness among the laughter: Will it be cold? What should I wear? What if the luggage gets lost? Will I make the 4 a.m. flight?
If that was the case, most of the students hid it well.
"Mostly, I'm just worried about making sure everyone has everything they need," color guard captain Cheryl McDermott, 17, said.
Her eyes darted back and forth as she watched members of her team grab banners and other necessities for Washington.
The students found out at the beginning of December they would be the only band from Nevada in the parade. The band also performed 16 years ago for Bill Clinton's inauguration.
In the past month, they scrambled to raise as much money as they could — the goal was $120,000 to cover the 109 students attending — by performing mostly in small groups or holding activities like car washes. There were also a few performances by the entire group.
Assistant Director Cecil Myers summed up the month in one word: "Crazy."
His students agreed.
"Every day we're finding out new info," Claire Etchinson, 16, said.
In the end they raised $40,000. The rest of the funds, about $600 per student, fell to the students' shoulders, just over half of Director Diane Koutsulis' original estimate of $1,000 per student.
Students said they couldn't begin to imagine how many times they performed to raise money.
"We probably had at least 50 all together," James Durbin, 16, said.
The students will be in Washington from today until Wednesday. They will make a side trip to Philadelphia and, between the two cities, they will see museums, memorials, the Liberty Bell, a basketball game and a concert.
Kelvin Haywood, 16, said he expected the concert, part of the inauguration festivities, to be the best activity of the weekend.
"I heard Beyoncé was going to be there, and that's all I needed to know," he said.
Other performers scheduled include Jay-Z, Mariah Carey, Faith Hill, Alicia Keys, Shakira and Stevie Wonder.
Students said they haven't had time to think about getting nervous. Between the fundraisers and extra practices, they haven't had many free moments. Their flights left at 4 a.m., 5 a.m. and noon today, and before getting sleep and boarding the plane, many still had to buy warm clothing to prepare for what some expected would be their coldest performance to date.
The Weather Channel was forecasting the high in Washington for Inauguration Day at 30 degrees, two degrees below freezing.
Frances Vanderploeg can be reached at 990-2660 or [email protected].