School Choir Teacher Takes Students on Trip to NYC and Washington D.C.

Performance tours are designed for student musicians and choirs to bring their music and song to new audiences. These tours include visits to major student travel destinations such as Washington D.C., New York City or Orlando with fun, interesting and historical sites on the itinerary. In addition to touring, there is a pre-booked performance date at a well-known location, such as the Statue of Liberty or Washington Cathedral. I recently interviewed a teacher from Hawaii, Cora Palafox Aczon, who has traveled with her school choir for 13 years. Aczon began traveling since 1998 with her student choir to perform in different places like California, New York, Washington, D.C., and even in Vancouver. Aczon says, “I started organizing these tours for choir purposes. It is an opportunity to showcase the God-given talents of the students, and also to appreciate other parts of the world.” Aczon has been a teacher for 16 years at Saint Anthony School (Honolulu), a private Catholic educational institution. As part of its religious mission, the school serves its own community in a variety of ways. The choir sings at St. Anthony Parish on Sundays, First Fridays, Family Masses, and special days. They also bring their music to the malls, community gatherings, and other places. So it made perfect sense to me that the group leader would be interested in engaging students in community service while traveling in other cities. There is always community work to be done, no matter where the student choir is traveling. Since service is part of the agenda for Aczon’s school trips, I take some time to research retirement communities, churches, and non-profit organizations in the area where her group is touring, to find organizations that serve the elderly, sick or disadvantaged populations. During the trip planning process, I run a few ideas past Cora Aczon to get a feel for what type of site works best for her group. The choir’s performance is always a welcome special event, no matter where they may be booked. Sometimes the choir’s performance location is determined by the travel dates and scheduled openings at host organizations. If the group leader plans far enough in advance, he or she may have a choice of different locations It is a long trip to the mainland United States from Hawaii. The most recent trip Saint Anthony’s School Choir made was to New York City and Washington D.C. Aczon told me, “Some of the students and parents have never been to the mainland U.S. Most of the students and parents have not gone to the East Coast yet. They have read a great deal about these places in books, and have seen these places in movies. The group wanted to have the feel and experience of being there, even just for a short time.” A performance tour is a wonderful way to explore the cities students study in history class. The performance allows students to take time to interact with the community, and get to know people there in a more intimate way. On their visit to New York City, the Saint Anthony School Choir visited many popular destinations such as the United Nations, NBC Studios, the Empire State Building and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. They also toured Manhattan, dined at Planet Hollywood and saw the Broadway musical, “Mary Poppins.” The choir was scheduled to sing at the Statue of Liberty, but the entire group was a bit disappointed when their outdoor performance was rained out. Nevertheless, their visit to NYC was a memorable one and there were many positive experiences on their journey. The Saint Anthony School Choir’s visit to Washington D.C. and performance there went as planned. In D.C., the choir visited Arlington National Cemetery, Smithsonian American and Natural History Museums, the Supreme Court, the U.S. Capitol, Mount Vernon, and the Holocaust Museum. The group even attended mass, and sang at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Capitol Hill. They also performed at the Air & Seaman’s Home – where they were very well received. Aczon recalled, “The choir’s performance was emotionally moving. Some of the residents said they were at Pearl Harbor on December 7th and seeing and hearing the kids from Hawaii brought back memories of World War II.” When student performance groups make a connection to people at the place they perform, they begin to understand that singing and community service does have an impact. Student tours should provide active learning opportunities. There must always be time for recreation and fun as well. I feel that performance tours with community service on the itinerary also open up the possibility of getting to know something about contemporary life and the people who live in large urban areas. With community service as a component to a performance tour, students are able to hear and see the results of their work. People in the community also have the chance to learn more about the lifestyles of the places where students originate. This exchange enriches all involved. For more information about booking a performance tour or band trip, visit or email to request a quote. Published at:

Take Student Travel Groups on a Science Trip to Washington D.C. Take Student Travel Groups on a Science Trip to Washington D.C.

Student travel group leaders and teachers often take school groups to Washington D.C. on history and government tours. Our nation’s capitol has a rich history, and the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government are centrally located there. This makes the trip to Washington D.C. perfect for the study of history and government. Yet Washington D.C. is also an ideal location for student trips which focus on science based learning. There are numerous points of interest in the Washington D.C. area that complement the study of science including: Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian American & Natural History Museum, NASA Goddard Visitor’s Center, Maryland Science Center, Baltimore National Aquarium, Marian Koshland Science Museum, and the National Zoo. In addition to scheduling visits to these locations on the itinerary, student tour groups can also allow time to visit the U.S. Capitol/Supreme Court, take an illuminated tour of Memorials and Monuments, and see the U.S.S. Barry — all in a three or four day tour. This article will provide a brief overview of major points of interest for a science tour of Washington D.C. Smithsonian Air and Space Museum & Smithsonian American Natural History Museum These two museums are a great starting point for an educational science trip. U.S. explorations of space and innovations in flight are well-documented and preserved in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Students can participate in guided tours, or educational programs that are appropriate for specific grade levels. A visit to the Air and Space Museum will provide interactive learning about airplanes, outer space explorations and pivotal moments in U.S. history when American scientists and programs led the world in discoveries in flight and space missions. The American Natural History Museum provides guided and self-guided tours and educational programs related to the history of the earth: fossils, stones, animals, pre-historic wildlife and remains, oceanic environments, and more. Student tour groups can visit permanent or special exhibits related to their curricular studies and teachers can focus the visit on exhibits which complement actual classroom learning experiences in the natural sciences. A visit to these two Smithsonian Museums provides an excellent opportunity for learning about science. NASA Goddard Visitor’s Center At the NASA Goddard Visitor’s Center, student tour groups gain a deeper level of insight into contemporary space exploration. The group can view photographs taken from the Hubble Space Telescope with pictures of planets, galaxies, black holes and views of earth taken from outer space. Students may view movies of earth and outer space in the Science on a Sphere projection room, where film is projected onto a spherical screen. Student groups will also learn about information gathered from satellites and other vehicles designed to explore deep space, through photographs of phenomenon on earth, the sun, and planets. Student education is enhanced through the lens of high tech devices, utilized by the NASA scientists to further our knowledge about the universe. Maryland Science Center & Baltimore National Aquarium Located in Baltimore, MD, just an hour outside of Washington D.C., are two premiere attractions for the science student: Maryland Science Center and the Baltimore National Aquarium. The Maryland Science Center has a rooftop observatory as well as nightly Sky and Stars SkiCasts to help the astronomy student interpret the activities of stars, planets, and other celestial bodies and occurrences. Students can watch live chemical and scientific experiments on the Demo stage, see science films projected onto a sphere, or ride on Segways when they tour the Maryland Science Center. At the Baltimore National Aquarium, students will be especially pleased by the new exhibit, “A Dolphin’s World” an extraordinary Dolphin Show that teaches students about the ocean planet, and the way human behavior in and near the Chesapeake Bay watershed affects the dolphins’ environment on a daily basis. The Baltimore National Aquarium also has a 4-D Immersion Theater with daily shows as well as 16,500 animals on exhibit. It’s no wonder the Baltimore National Aquarium is internationally known and recognized as one of the finest aquariums in the United States. The opportunity to visit the Baltimore National Aquarium will complement any classroom studies on oceanography and life beneath the sea. Marian Koshland Science Museum The National Academy of Sciences Marian Koshland Science Museum in Washington D.C. features interactive exhibits that teach visitors about the immediate impact science has on our daily lives. Here students will learn about the importance of safe drinking water, infectious diseases, DNA, and some of the wonders of science. The exhibits are ongoing and will change from time to time. Teachers are advised to check the Museum website to coordinate curricular plans with current exhibits. National Zoo The National Zoo is a spectacular showcase for animals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians from a variety of eco-systems around the world. There are numerous exhibits, many with a geographical focus such as on North America, Asia, the Amazon and Africa; exhibits that concentrate on species are: Great Cats, Giant Pandas, Birds, and Asian Elephants. Teachers can access the National Zoo website well in advance of the trip to develop lesson plans that are in sync with the visit. The curriculum guides are grade specific and available for free download, with core materials included for classroom learning, making it easy for teachers to prepare students for the trip to the National Zoo. Teachers looking to organize a science trip will find a wealth of opportunity for quality educational experiences in Washington D.C. and Baltimore. Some of the finest science museums in the world are located in the capitol city. For more information about a science based student trip and itinerary visit or email for details on scheduling or pricing. Published at:

Essential Tips For Renting a Town Car in Washington

Whether you live in Edmonds, Redmond, Renton, Tacoma, Lynnwood or other cities in Washington, you may need to rent a town car once in a while for special occasions. This article discusses some of the important tips you need to consider when renting a car. Washington residents choose to hire a town car when there is a wedding to get to, or for prom night or for airport drop offs and pickups or even for sightseeing trips around the city. People living in Seattle or Bothell or Edmonds also hire town cars for trips out of town to weekend getaways like Mount St Helens, or San Juan Islands. Renting a car is the better choice than taking out your own SUV for the weekend trip as it is much more economical. Whatever your reason for renting the car be, remember to follow certain tips to ensure that you make a smart car renting choice. The first and most essential tip is to make sure you book your vehicle online. There are a number of town car rental companies offering their services on the Internet and you have to do a bit of research to ensure you hire the best town car service. While researching compare prices and also keep an eye out for special weekend deals or weekend rates which are being offered by rental service providers. A simple bit of math will show you that claiming these rates and offers will be highly beneficial for your budget. Some useful advice here: choose a car model/make which is more economical to run and consumes lesser gas than other models. This way you can save a lot on getting the gas tank filled for other bigger cars. Once you have chosen a service provider the next thing to do is to check out the charges they are taking for providing the town car. So very carefully make a note of all the information on their site about pricing. See the fees, taxes and surcharges you will be needed to pay up. Also see the terms of use and service posted on the site. You can also ask these when on the phone with the customer executive of the car rental service. This is important because you should be aware of any dos and don’ts when renting the car and also of any restrictions about taking the car to certain areas (in other words crossing state lines). You must be fully aware of the insurance issues when renting a town car. Choose the coverage which you think is necessary so that paying the premium is easier for you. Never go in a car which doesn’t have any insurance cover. When the car arrives to pick you up for the weekend trip, and you don’t like it, don’t hesitate from asking an upgrade. You will most probably be sent a better car soon at minimal extra cost. Always hire from a company which offers great service for the charge they bill you for. This includes the car, model, and features like leather furnishings, DVD players, floor mats and sufficient storage space. A trained and courteous driver is another sign of a reputed town car service. Bothell, Edmonds, Renton, Redmond or Tacoma, wherever you may need to rent the town car, keep these tips in mind and you will end up renting the best car possible. Published at:

How To Find The Best Rates On Automobile Insurance In Washington

Even though car thefts were down 11% in 2006 in Washington State, car insurance still comes at a premium price. Trying to wade through the maze that is automobile insurance rates to find the best deal can be challenging for anyone. It can feel as though you’re at the mercy of the car insurance companies and you have to take whatever they are offering. That’s not the case. There are ways you can get the upper hand and save at least a few dollars off the cost of premiums each year. The first thing you need to arm yourself with when you journey into the world of automobile insurance is what coverage you are interested in. Many insurance companies have a wide range of policies and typically agents will begin by trying to sell you the most comprehensive one they offer. The reason is simple and it’s that they make money by selling these policies so it stands to reason that if they can lure you into buying a more expensive one; it means more money in their pocket. You need to first think about what would happen should you be in an accident that is your fault. How much coverage would you need to adequately protect yourself, repair or replace your automobile and cover any medical expenses that may be related to an accident? All of this is dependent on several factors including your driving record, the vehicle you drive now and the area you typically drive in. If you have a baseline idea of what you should be paying, you can then negotiate with an insurance agent realizing the limitations of your situation. Obviously someone who drives in a major metropolitan area and has numerous speeding violations won’t enjoy the same low rates as someone who drives rurally and has never been ticketed. Be realistic in your goal and you’ll find a rate that fits. Published at:

National Airport Parking Choices For Washington D.c. Travelers

National Airport parking is relatively easier at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), in Arlington County, Virginia than in most other airports in the country. Reagan Airport is the closest commercial airport to Washington D.C., the capital city of the United States. Originally known as the Washington National Airport, it was renamed in 1988 in honor of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan. DCA airport serves over 18 million passengers every year.

Hourly and Daily Parking

There are over 9,400 National Airport parking spaces in service at present – about 2,956 of these are in the economy parking lot, located in the south end of the airport. Daily and hourly parking are available at airport garages A, B, and C. Hourly parking can be quite expensive at $4 per hour, maximum $36 for a full 24 hours period. This is ideal when you have business at the airport and would need to park for up to 2 hours. If you need to park longer, you’re better off taking a daily parking space for a rate of $20 or park at the economy lot for only $12 per day.

Parking for Disabled Passengers

There are designated National Airport parking spaces for disabled passengers, conveniently located near elevators and shuttle bus stops. Vehicles with handicapped or disabled persons on board needing parking assistance are requested to show their government-issued plates or placards to the uniformed parking assistants, who can also help locate a convenient parking space should the designated areas be already full.

Cell Phone Waiting Area

If you’re picking up a family member or a friend from the airport, you can use the airport’s cell phone waiting area. You’re not allowed to leave your vehicle while inside the waiting area, and you can only stay for a maximum of 2 hours, but this beats burning gas to pass the time or pay the hourly parking rates at the airport garages.

Long Term Parking

If you’re flying out of Reagan airport for an extended business or vacation trip, daily parking is by far the most financially sound option. Still, like in any other city, airport-run facilities are always available at an inflated price because of their proximity to the terminals. For less expensive alternatives, the best choice would be the off-airport locations offering highly competitive rates.

Off-Airport Alternatives

Most of the good hotels near the airport offer very affordable long term parking rates. Courtyard Crystal City (half a mile from the airport) and Sheraton Crystal City Hotel (1.20 miles from the airport), both located along Jefferson Davis Highway, have a daily parking rate of only $8 at their indoor parking facilities, for example.

The Obvious Choice

For a hypothetical 5 day trip, you’ll be paying $100 at the airport garages, $60 at the economy lot, while only $40 at hotel parking locations. Factor in the complimentary shuttle service that will take you to and pick you up from your terminal at the end of your trip, your choice for your National Airport parking becomes quite obvious.

Book Your Parking in Advance

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), being very close to federal government offices including the White House, is relatively restricted than most other airports, in terms of security, number of flights, and international entry. Nevertheless, with 18 million passengers using the airport every year, National Airport parking can still be a problem, especially during the holidays. This can be easily avoided, however: just know your options and book your parking in advance.

Washington DC: Museums, Monuments And Multiculturalism – Washington D.C. Travel Information

As the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. is certainly not lacking of museums, monuments, exhibits, historic landmarks and a fantastic potpourri of cuisine and nightlife. The District of Columbia is vibrant and alive with thousands of college students, passionate non-profits and swarms of local and international government employees. Get a taste of this unique social climate when you book your airfare to Washington DC through one of the region’s major airports: Dulles International Airport (Virginia), Ronald Reagan International (Virginia), and Baltimore/Washington International (Maryland). The city itself coexists as both the District of Columbia and the city of Washington. When the city was established, it was planned specifically to serve the United States as seat of government. A dispute arose between Virginia and Maryland as to which state would be home to the nation’s capital. Thus, the decision was made to establish Washington DC as an independent, non-state entity. What is most interesting about the city is its inhabitants are rule by the United States Congress, which has ultimate authority over DC and resulting in less government representation for residents than they would enjoy in a state. The National Mall… but That’s Not All! Although you will never find yourself short of things to do or see in Washington DC, there are several must visits in the District. A tour of the Capitol Building is a fascinating way to see the several stages of democracy as they emerged over the course of the nation’s history. The building itself was partially burned, along with the rest of the city, in 1814 by British forces and inside you can still see the remains of the old dome and the surrounding new, taller dome. You can also view the first Supreme Court, then housed inside the Capitol. This tour is most exciting because the building is an active part of today’s government, full of congressional interns, staffers and Congressmen. Take a walk on the wilder side of Washington DC’s Rock Creek Park and visit the famous National Zoo, which is home to America’s famous pandas. Washington DC also offers the very popular Spy Museum, which covers the history of intelligence, espionage and code breaking in the United States and worldwide. The world renowned Smithsonian Institution is the most famous collection of museums and galleries, including the National Air and Space Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the recently added National Museum of the American Indian. From the Smithsonian collection you will have the best view of the Capitol and the Washington Monument at either ends of the grassy Mall. The Bounty Beyond Washington DC Many of Washington DC’s attractions are beyond the limits of the District. Once you book your airfare to Washington DC on cFares, plan to explore the outlying areas like Arlington National Cemetery, just across the Potomac in Virginia. Take a bike ride from there down the scenic green waterside of George Washington Parkway to Mount Vernon, the home and plantation of the nation’s first president, George Washington. Washington DC is also surrounded by several National Parks and recreation areas, including Shenandoah National Park and Anacostia National Park. Find your airfare to Washington DC today and experience the heart and soul of America’s traditions, culture and democratic institutions. Published at: