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Burroughs musicians invited to Pearl Harbor Ceremony


Burroughs High School Music Department– Burroughs High School music students have been hard at work the last several months endeavoring to raise more than $80,000 to help defray the costs of an opportunity to perform at a special commemoration held in Hawaii in conjunction with the anniversary of attacks on Pearl Harbor. 

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most of these students,” said Mrs. Amber Petersen, who directs the choir and orchestra at BHS. About 50 members of band, choir and orchestra, as well as the directors and chaperones, will be in Hawaii Dec. 4 through 8 for the experience.

The opportunity came about when Master Gunnery Sgt. Earl T. Hurrey was vetting schools for participation in the Pearl Harbor commemoration. The Burros were invited on the strength of their historic excellence in music. 

“This was particularly encouraging after so many barriers to performing arts during the pandemic era,” said Mr. Brian Cosner, band director. 

Last spring, incoming freshmen and upper class members met, along with parents and supporters, to strategize about how to fund the trip. The bulk of the cost will be left to individual members to pay — though students have the chance to raise sponsorships, sell Bargain Cards, sell candy and put “sweat equity” into car washes and other events. 

But Petersen and Cosner are also hoping that local businesses and organizations will be able to contribute to the cause. 

“Our community is very patriotic, and very supportive of the arts,” said Petersen. “So we have already experienced the generosity of many individuals and organizations.”

“I think that a lot of people are also eager to see our students return to some of the ‘normal’ opportunities that we enjoyed before COVID,” said Cosner. The last several years brought with them disruption and restrictions that were detrimental to collaborative and performative programs like music.

However, Petersen and Cosner have noticed that — through the support of our district and the commitment of students and their families — the programs are once again growing. Last year students performed live for the first time — without masks — in almost two years. This year, BHS is offering eight music classes, compared to five last year. 

Cosner and Petersen said that the enthusiasm surrounding opportunities like the upcoming Pearl Harbor performance have been excellent motivators in retaining student engagement.

“This year we have already seen some of the former energy that were a hallmark of our music programs,” said Petersen. 

“I hope that traveling to Hawaii will allow students make meaningful connections with the other music programs represented and this event, while leaving them with life-long memories.”

“Even the chance to travel is in an of itself extremely beneficial to growing as a person,” said Cosner. “Getting to travel to perform music is a special privilege. Hopefully, this puts BHS music programs on the radar of other organizations, and results in even more opportunities like this in the future.”

To contribute, or more about the music programs at BHS, visit