‘We’re KoMets we can do this’
For about a year, Kasson-Mantorville students fundraised money for their band and choir spring trip.
That trip was almost ruined last week when inclement weather interrupted their travel plans.
It started off like any other trip, the groups of students and chaperones boarded the coach buses to head to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport to catch their plane. And it proved to be the last normality that happened during the trip.
While driving through the storm, there was a crash involving two semis. The drivers from the bus company were able to avoid a collision, but bus two succumbed to a ditch. Just after entering the ditch, another semi approached at a high rate of speed and while trying to brake, lost control and skidded toward bus two. The semi avoided collision and careened off into the field. Traffic then slowed and got backed up keeping the passengers in the second bus safe.
Another bus was summoned out of Hastings to help the K-M group continue on its trip to the airport. That bus approached the second bus heading southbound and stopped. Once stopped, the bus driver couldn’t get going again due to icy conditions. He was in a lane of traffic. With blowing snow reducing visibility, bus two was again threatened by the prospect of collision with oncoming traffic from southbound travelers attempting to avoid the Hastings bus. Everyone was on the edge of their seats and emotions ran high. After several more attempts to get moving, the Hastings bus was able to get rolling again. The chaperones breathed a collective sigh of relief. Within minutes, Minnesota State Patrol had the crash scene controlled and traffic blocked. They also got the first tow truck to help extract them from the ditch. They weren't far in, allowing extraction to go smoothly.
Eventually, the group made it to the airport but found out that their flight had been canceled due to their plane not being able to make it from St. Louis.
From there Directors Tony Boldt and Andrew Faller spent the next seven hours on the phone trying to problem solve, negotiate, and communicate.
They were told at one point that there were no options for them and chaperones had booked hotels at Mall of America and were working on light rail transportation. Emotions were high for students and then sophomore, Gabe Bungum, who had been following this tale on social media throughout the day shared the story with his mom, Marlo. Marlo had an idea: her sister, Katie Primmer, a KM alum and band/choir student, is employed by Delta Airlines and thought she might be able to help out. She connected with her sister and the wheels started turning. She contacted chaperone Michelle Coy and planted a seed of hope. Coy connected Primmer to the directors, and the directors got Primmer to the tour company.
“We had hope, but we also felt pessimistic. It would crush these kids again if we ignited their hope and then things didn’t turn out. No one wanted to see that again,” Coy said.
Coy explained that they had a choice to make: surrender and travel to a Minneapolis hotel or live through hope and take 107 people to Lindbergh terminal and pray that it would all work out.
At that moment, the students and teachers showed their resilience by saying they were gonna try to see if it works.
A student said “we’re KoMets we can do this,” and Faller said, “let’s go to Lindbergh,” and they did just that.
The groups resilience eventually paid off as they got their boarding passes and made their way to San Francisco. It wasn’t until they landed that they realized that it was actually going to happen.
After landing in California, having a lack of busses, and some missing luggage, they made their way to their competition on just three and a half hours of sleep.
During the competition, the KoMets showed their musical talents winning a number of different awards.
Two of the special awards that they won was the Spirit of San Francisco award for the resiliency they showed during their travel adventures. As a golden crown on the trip, they were awarded the Sweepstakes for Total Program award. This award went to the school with the best combination scores for both choir and band.
For Faller, what stood out to him during the trip is the important lessons that the students learned when facing adversity.
“I think the thing that I took away from all of the struggles of the trip was the importance of interacting professionally with the other professionals that are trying their best to do things for you,” Faller said. “ There were plenty of opportunities to lose you temper, get angry, yell at another human being, or say a remark that undercuts what they're trying to do for you. Treating people politely and professionally, along with having contacts who can help you, allowed us to find openings that weren't there before.”