For the last nine months students at Fairfax County's Lake Braddock Secondary School have been raising money to send the school's orchestra to a music festival in Bermuda this spring.
They have collected newspapers and beer cans, cleaned houses, washed cars, raked yards and even formed string quartets to perform at private parties.
In all, they had raised $8,000 of the $11,000 they needed when they got the word from county school officials: The trip had been disapproved.
"It's a rip-off," Suzanne Holroyd, 18, president of the 32-member orcjestra, complained yesterday. "Everyone is upset."
Fairfax school authorities, who ordered the trip canceled, could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Carolyn Shaw, director of the student musical group, said she was told that "the school superintendent felt that the same educational goals could be met without leaving the United States."
Parents and students at the school, located at 9200 Burke Lake Rd., said yesterday they are appealing the decision, made by the county's associate school superintendent, Jacqueline Benson. She could not be reached for comment yesterday.
"I think it was a completely arbitrary decision," complained Joel Wilson, a 17-year-old violinist, who has been playing in one of the string quartets to raise money for the trip. "We must proceed as if we are going to go," he said.
John Morgan, whose 17-year-old daughter Vicki also is a violinist at the school, agreed that the students are bitter. "We have a bunch of frustrated kids," he said yesterday.
County Supervisor Marie Travesky (R-Springfield) said she agreed that the Lake Braddock students have been wronged. "I think it's very unfair... very unfortunate, considering the time and effort they've put into it."
She promised to press the students' request with school officials.
Morgan said the parents and students had expected that the orchestra's request to attend the Bermuda International Music Festival, to be held April 26-30, would be routinely approved. Other music groups in the county schools have performed abroad recently, Morgan and Travesky said. "If there is a rule that they can't take a trip out of the country, it should be applied across the county," she said.
Shaw, the orchestra director, said she was "disappointed," but hoped that the group can agree on an alternate trip. She said one possibility is a music festival in Florida.
However, Holroyd said the competition in Florida "is not even near the competition" in the Bermuda festival, where orchestras from "all over the world" will be performing.
"It's really a disappointment," said Holroyd, who plays the cello.