Members of the Newsome High School orchestra are not the only ones basking in the glow of a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment—performing in the world-renowned Carnegie Hall in New York City. Its orchestra director, Christopher Allen, was pretty enamored with the experience as well.

While waiting nervously backstage to be announced, a stagehand, whose job it was to open the stage door, said, “You know I’ve opened this door for some of the greats…and now I’m opening it for you!”

That comment was enough to put a smile on Allen’s face as he walked on stage. “There was nothing that could have prepared me for the emotions that washed over me as I walked on that stage,” he said. “This whole entire trip was one I will never forget.”

From the audience, parent volunteers were feeling emotional as well. “I could tell that every student was playing their heart out on stage,” said parent chaperone Lacey Holt. “Our 100 musicians were playing their hearts out.”

Before the performance, the students had to walk almost a mile while attired for the performance in long gowns and tuxedos and carrying their instruments down the streets of New York in frigid temperatures. “They looked so mature and grown-up in that moment,” Holt said.

Some young musicians experienced a lot of firsts during the trip: their first time on an airplane, first time in New York, first time on a subway, first time in Central Park and first time going to see a Broadway show, the hit musical Aladdin.

Holt said one student in her group had never left Florida and it was also her first time on an airplane. “I enjoyed watching her out of her element as she marveled at the concrete jungle and took a lot of photos with her camera,” she said.

Although some students experienced many firsts, every one of them was able to share the first time of playing at Carnegie Hall.

“They will be telling stories about that to their grandkids one day,” said Holt.

Newsome junior Regen Adams called the entire experience magical. “It was a dream come true and one I’ll never forget,” she said.

After planning for nearly a year, Allen said the experience was over in a moment. However, he said making memories for his students made it all worth it.

“This was a thrilling experience for them that I hope they will remember always,” said Allen.