The CNMI’s musical jewel, Saipan Southern High School’s award-winning Manta Ray Band, will hold a concert next month, on Dec. 17, to raise funds for a Japan and Korea tour in March.
The group needs to raise $150,000 to send 42 students who will participate in the tour hosted by World Projects, LLC.
The purpose of the trip, according to band instructor William DeWitt, is to showcase just how much the Manta musicians have progressed and to find out how they can improve even more.
“In the wake of two very successful tours to NYC and London, our students are now preparing to put everything on the line against the very, very best high school bands in the world [Japan],” he said. “I strongly believe it’s time to put our kids into that arena so that they will be inspired to take their sound to a new level.”
The 42-member band’s tour will include visits to Tokyo Disney World & Disney Sea, the Adjudicated Festival Concert in Tokyo, an exchange concert with a high school in Shizuoka, a children’s hospital in Seoul, Korea, and a possible performance at the Lotte World in Korea.
According to DeWitt, next month’s concert will be held at the Saipan Community School Chapel at 6pm. Admission is free but the band is selling tickets to raffle cash, merchandize, gift certificate awards, and a $3,000 grand prize.
The Manta Ray band had a $37,500 first installment payment due on Saturday but was able to raise only $23,000 through a group fundraising effort, ETC donations, and students’ out of pocket contributions.
“I am keeping my fingers crossed that the host organization for this festival competition will accept our partial payment and give us an additional week or so to pay the balance of the first installment,” DeWitt told the Saipan Tribune.
“We were really counting on the support of PSS for about a third of our budget with the other two-thirds generated from the students’ fundraising efforts, ETC solicitations, and the students own self-contributions. I understand the difficult situation PSS is in as they struggle to balance many obligations and priorities,” DeWitt added. “We are still hopeful they can support the manta band in a manner similar to what other PSS student organizations received for off-island competitions earlier this year.”
The band’s next deadline to participate in the Japan and Korea festival competition is in mid-January 2014. They will need to pay the second and final installment payment of $60,000 by then. The installment payments are for hotel, ground transportation, large percussion rental, meals, competition entry fees, and performance related costs.
According to DeWitt, so far, one local business owner pledged $5,000 in ETC that will be given late this month and the PSS Board of Education donated $2,000 in September.
“If people would like to express your support in any form, we thank you so very much, regardless of the amount you will give,” Dewitt added.
Raffle tickets are $5 each and $20 for a booklet of five tickets. Raffle drawings will occur at the concert but no raffle sales will occur. Ticket holders do not need to be present to win.
People interested in buying raffle tickets can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for purchase of tickets and delivery.