The school year might have ended on May 27, but that didn’t mean all of the year’s activities were done.

Before they all went their separate ways for the summer, the Cooper High School band took one last trip together as director John Landin led his group town to the Texas Gulf Coast for a few days of bonding, team-building, and memory-making.

The band spent time at NASA and on the beach, among other places during a trip that served as a goodbye to seniors and a reward for enduring 2 1/2 strange school years because of COVID.

“Our seniors enjoyed being able to perform one last time with our band,” said Landin, who just completed his first year at Cooper. “This group had a lot of travel taken away from them due to COVID, and you could tell they appreciated the trip in a different way than some of the other students. Allowing these students to create more memories with their friends allows the whole group to have a chance to say goodbye to these wonderful students.”

And while the group did have some time for fun, the 64 band members who made the trip also performed, playing at the front entrance one day for those going into Schlitterbahn.

“Although these trips are meant to be fun, we always have a performance component to them,” said Landin, who has taken bands at his previous stops on trips to San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and out of state to Colorado, Missouri, and Alaska. “Having our groups perform for folks that don’t know them is a great learning opportunity. Performing in any capacity allows our group to grow through whatever experience they gain in that performance.

“Sometimes we perform in a venue that many folks don’t get a chance to perform in such as a famous hall or a major show venue,” he said. “Sometimes we must create performance opportunities in areas that don’t typically have performances such as our trip this year (Schlitterbahn). Either way creates a unique experience for performers, and they allow us to showcase our group in a way that we typically don’t have locally.”

The students visited NASA, joined a dolphin tour, and spent plenty of time on the beach in a sandcastle competition. Those experiences, Landin said, create the camaraderie necessary to build a team that functions well together.

“Trips like this are important for students to gain experience away from the comfort of their home and family,” Landin said. “The memories made on these trips are what galvanizes the band to become a ‘family.’  That goes a long way toward making everyone in the organization feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Some students wouldn’t get a chance to experience some of the things we get to do without these trips. I had multiple students experience the Gulf Coast for the first time because of this trip. There were even a few who had never been on a boat before and were excited to take the dolphin tour that was offered during one of our stops.”

But it was the sandcastle competition that got everyone’s competitive juices flowing.

“We were tired and ready to leave the beach area,” Landin said recalling the competition. “We had an instructor who showed us how to sculpt the sand using water, buckets, and sculpting knives. It was amazing to see how the kids got into this activity. They worked well together to complete their projects and the results were way better than expected.”