P.S. 22 chorus returns from performance at inauguration
A Staten Island chorus - which received $25,000 in donations for traveling expenses to perform at President Barack Obama's inauguration - was returning by bus to the city Monday chuffed, star struck and gratified.
"John Mayer and Katy Perry came up together - I think they're an item - and congratulated the kids. That's something they'll be bragging about when they get back to school" today, said Gregg Breinberg, the director of P.S. 22's famous fifth-grade chorus at the Graniteville school.
The group's setlist, which was an object of some haggling with the Inaugural Committee, was "Home," "One Dream," "On Top of the World," and "God Bless the USA."
"We left with 60 happy kids and we're returning with 60 happier kids," Breinberg said. He and the group's 21 volunteer chaperones gave the children gloves, fleeces and scarves in addition to their "P.S. 22" caps to insulate them in the mid-30s temperature outside the Capitol.
There were some amusing moments. Jaden Stoll, 10, asked an attendant for the Inaugural Committee what the abbreviation "D.C." meant.
"District of Columbia," she told him.
"I thought it stood for Duck Colony," Jaden said, according to Breinberg.
Talia Pina, 11, wondered if the attendees in the crowd were wearing red or blue hats to broadcast their political affiliations. No one knew what to tell her.
The trip "was a blast," said Breinberg, who noted that Obama won a PS 22 student straw vote "by a landslide."
He was particularly grateful to all the people who responded with donations to news stories that the chorus lacked the traveling expenses to pay for its buses and the hotel stay at the Holiday Inn in Baltimore. "Most of our donations came from New Yorkers - New Yorkers always come through for each other! We are really, really blessed," said Breinberg. The Chorus will perform a "thank you concert" for all who made donations, probably in March, he added.
The trip was an amazing experience for the children, who were part of a historic event they will remember for the rest of their lives. But the trek also left an impression on the adults for a reason anyone who has ever traveled with children would appreciate. "There was absolutely no complaining," Breinberg said.