By CASEY CROUCHER
Seniors in Amsterdam High School's Select Choir had their wish come true last week after pestering their teacher for four years to let them perform at Disney World.
"We started annoying her about going to Disney since our freshman year, so it finally happened our last year here," choir member Delaney Crosby said.
Teacher, Patricia Valiante, who's worked at the school district for 35 years, had taken two other choir classes to Disney World -- a class in 1999, and a class in 2006.
"We weren't in high school when the last group went, but [Valiante] would always talk to us about it, and it made us what to go even more," Crosby said.
The Disney performance was April 24, and was part of a world-wide competition to show resort visitors international talent. Choirs, dance teams and ensembles from all over the world apply to perform in the resorts and earn a trophy for being chosen.
The AHS Select Choir sent in a tape last May of a previous competition at Six Flags in Queensbury, where they performed three different songs and won.
"Because [the choir] kept winning competitions I said, 'Why don't we just try to go to Disney World?'" Valiante said.
She said she got a response from Disney over the summer saying that her choir had been accepted to perform, and from the very first day of school, until the end of March, the choir organized and raised money for the trip.
"For an entire year, we worked on the creation of the trip, getting the plane tickets, trying to raise all of the money," she said. "The trip was about $800 per student, and it included everything; the hotel, the food, tickets, the plane, it was all inclusive."
The students raised more than half of the $40,000 needed to take 50 members of the choir on the trip to Florida.
"I had been saving for two years to go on this trip," senior choir member Christina Iannotti said. "I was so excited the day we were leaving. This was like the best end to a senior year that anyone could have. We graduate in like a month and this was our last trip together; it was perfect."
The choir performed six songs under a blistering hot sun on the Melody Gardens Stage in EPCOT, Valiante said, but they were "troopers."
"The sweat was in their eyes and it was brutal, but they were smiling all the way through and I was very happy for that because we're not used to that kind of heat, especially this time of year, so I was so proud of them," she said.
Despite the heat, choir members said they still enjoyed the attention.
"It felt really special for people at Disney to stop and listen to us perform," senior Sara Blankenbaker said. "From small city Amsterdam to big Disney."
"It was exciting because everyone visiting got to hear us and we also sounded really good that day," Crosby said.
Besides performing, the choir got to visit all of Disney's theme parks, go on the rides and attend Disney shows.
"Besides the concert -- where I was just beaming with pride, even though we were sweating, my favorite part was watching [the choir] enjoy the shows at Disney, just watching them see a true Disney show live," Valiante said. "The looks on their faces and the smiles and their excitement was just so great. They put 100 percent into their performance and then had a great time. I loved seeing them watch the big night shows, then talk about them after, I loved it."
She said the trip wouldn't have been possible without the support of the community.
"I have to say thank you to the community and everyone that came to fundraisers and supported the students," she said. "Also, a big thanks to music teachers Ann and Maria Bottisti, who came and played piano and flute for us at the performance."