DAY 10: 21 March by Jade and Sarina

Today is the last day of this incredible tour! It is a bittersweet day, sweet because we are seeing our families and going to Universal Studios. Bitter because this is our last day with the people we can now call our family.

 We had a pretty busy morning from the minute we woke up. We quickly got dressed for the day, had to pack the rest of our stuff and have our room checked by one of the leaders.

Once we all arrived downstairs, we ate our last breakfast together in America.  After breakfast, we gave in our hotel keys and took our suitcases out to the bus and set off to Universal which was a 15-minute drive.

DSCN6972When we arrived, we took a group photo in front the Universal sign which continually spun around. After that we got into groups, received out tickets and split up. Once inside, most people headed to the studio tour that transports visitors on an open carraige to the backlots, which is full of sets and studios where many famous movies and TV programs were filmed. It was such an enjoyable and exciting tour.

DSCN6974

 After that, we went on so many amazing rides like The Simpsons, The Mummy, Jurassic Park and Hollywood House of Horrors. The rides were so good. Eventually, the day came to an end and we had an hour drive to the airport.

When we arrived we got out suitcases and checked in. We moved to the next part of our experience which was customs. It was pretty scary as it was very intense. After customs we all went off in groups to get dinner and shop a little bit. At 10:30pm, it was time to board the plane home.

DSCN7035During the flight everyone slept, watched movies, ate dinner, listened to music and spoke to each other. Once we were close to Australia, everyone started getting ready by dressing in fresh clothes and freshening up. Some were excited getting of the plane, others some were sad to be going back. After our landing, we headed to off to collect luggage, through to arrivals and reunite with our loved ones.

INSTAGRAM: PHOTO of the DAY

DAY 9: 20 March by Bailey, Jerrilee and Danada

Today was one of the best sleeps cause it was a sleep-in! Our wake up call was 8:30 and the breakfast was amazing, a lot better than the rest. After the delicious breakfast we headed off for a 2 hour walking tour of LA, seeing the sights of downtown LA. Stunning features such as the LA library, Union Station, Bradbury Building and much more.

DSCN6776DSCN6828

DSCN6786

Next was the rehearsal and costume change for the Cathedral performance with John Burland and six other schools including San Miguel.

Soon after it was the performance time where it was both spectacular and also emotional reason as it was all our last performance in America and also together as a group. We believed that it was a successful performance with all the children being ‘Alive in Christ!’ We truly felt that the spirit was alive in everyone that attended.

Last but not least was the enjoyable experience of walking home through downtown LA, the lights were an outstanding sight to see and for our second last night we thought that we would sing all the way back to the Hilton Checkers.  We had dinner and then all shared our experiences and a fair amount of tears and emotions that everybody felt a little bit inside.

Through the day happiness was shared and tears were shed.

We all thought that it was a day that wouldn’t be forgotten.

INSTAGRAM: PHOTO of the DAY

DAY 8: 19 March by Claire and Olivia

With another bright early morning, already packed the night before, we traveled back to Los Angeles. Half an hour before we arrived at Immaculate Conception Primary School, we spent time getting ready and rehearsing for our performance on the bus. CaSPA students had the honour of performing in their glorious church for the entire school (I.e.kindergarten to year 8). We were inspired by their performance of 2 songs sang in Spanish, which we found delightful. We also got to meet some of the students and present them with gifts that we painted back in Australia.

Later on, after leaving Immaculate Conception, we checked into the beautiful Hilton Checkers Hotel. After settling down in our rooms we got dressed and ready for dinner and a musical. We walked to California Kitchen to have an Italian dinner, which was absolutely amazing and then further traveled to the Ahmanson Theatre to watch Harmony-A New Musical which everyone was thrilled to see.

Harmony is based on a young group of male vocalists in the 1930’s who found each other through a passion of not only singing but performing. They were called the Comedian Harmonists. Everyone was stunned and a few were bought to tears by the end of this brilliant musical. A strong message from this musical that CaSPA students have learnt, is to stand up for what they believe in and have each other’s backs.

After travelling back to the hotel, we said farewell to our extra mentors, who have traveled with us for the past few days and have been an incredible support to us all. A BIG thanks to Fr Steven, Mary, Steve, Melissa, Mark & Cheryl – we loved having you around!

INSTAGRAM: PHOTO of the DAY

DAY 7: 18 March by Serena and Giuliana

SchoolToday our CaSPA crew woke up at 7:00 for an 8:00 departure from the hotel to the Bishop Gorman Catholic High School for a performance who were a privilege to perform for. We socialised and asked questions about America and Australia after we performed 4 pieces and they returned with 2 pieces of their talent.

JSThe next stop was a park well known to the citizens of Las Vegas to retreat from the main strip to have lunch and to celebrate the two birthday people on the tour. James celebrated his 35th birthday 😉 with Serena who had her birthday on the first day of the tour. Chants were called, videos were made and ducks were spotted as we enjoyed the sun and the windy weather

UntitledWe enjoyed learning about the process that the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and M&M World take to produce their delicious products as we also were fortunate enough to try a free sample of their chocolate. Many indulged in buying themselves chocolate products and of course gifts for others and enjoyed the fresh drinks in the shop.

MuseumLas Vegas Natural History Museum was an educational experience as we split into groups to see the Egyptian, African, Marine and Prehistoric Dinosaur exhibitions. Keen enough, we listened to carers of the live sharks as they fed them, happy to see our own Port Jackson Sharks there. All in all, everyone learned something in their groups, whether it be about sharks or about types of dinosaurs.

StructOur final stop was Las Vegas Adventuredome. The thrill-seeking experience included 90% drops on rollercoasters, loop-the-loops and a pizza party to celebrate.

Overall, as the 7th day ends, we are all looking forward to more experiences and the Elementary School performance for tomorrow.

INSTAGRAM: PHOTO of the DAY

DAY 6: 17 March by Alex and Alana

Today we started off with a 7:00am wake-up call and a 7:30am breakfast. The CaSPA team prepared to embark on a journey to the Grand Canyon, one that would not be forgotten. Breakfast was served much differently compared to Red Lion. The highlight of breakfast were the waffles, which we got to make ourselves. We got our lunch packs, which were similar to the packs from the Red Lion.

DSCN6506We departed on a long, 3 hour journey on the first bus, stopping at the Hoover Dam. We crossed a bridge to get to a lookout where we could get a picture of the magnificent, majestic concrete  structure.

The second bus was a 1 hour 15 minute ride to the Grand Canyon. Before walking over the blood curdling, transparent overhang lookout, we were informed of some ‘fun facts’ to start off the tour.

– The Grand Canyon is about 1800 metres deep.

– It stretches  446 kilometres in length, the same as Canberra to Newcastle.

– The widest point stretched 29 kilometres, the same as Bondi beach to Burwood.

DSCN6537

The amazing Grand Canyon

The Canyon is a vast expanse of eroded rock of which was once submerged in water,  carved  by the Colorado River.  The Skywalk, made with 50,000 tonnes of reinforced glass, enabled a panoramic view of the daunting and stunning Canyon. Those in the group who had a fear of heights conquered their acrophobia and felt a real sense of achievement!

After an on the go bus rehearsal back to Vegas, we had dinner at the Treasure Island hotel,

DSCN6551 DSCN6552 DSCN6553

The most challenging thing of the day was the crazy maths riddle that John tortured us with – Five odd numbers, added together in any way you like, use any number as many times as you like BUT must total 32  – Clue: Think like a second grader 

DSCN6523

Even the Secondary teachers were trying to solve the riddle!

DSCN6516

OK, I have 32 rocks …. the answer is crushing me!

DSCN6517

Rachel – determined but confused!

INSTAGRAM: PHOTO of the DAY

DAY 5: 16 March by Lauryn and Tenesha

WS2 GroupToday was a very fun, exciting and exhausting day. Our CaSPA team started the day with a quick rehearsal for workshop two with John Burland later that day. This workshop was Alive in Christ! Everybody was so involved and happy to be a part of the celebration. At the end, the CaSPA students thanked all the people involved in our last workshop and presented gifts that were personally painted by Lisa Buxton, a talented aboriginal artist.

After a delicious lunch of a variety of wraps and sandwiches; we boarded the bus and were ready for the glam of Las Vegas. The CaSPA team participated in trivia games which determined who our room buddies would be for the next couple of nights. We DSCN6409stopped at a small market and Mary from CEO was kind enough to buy every person on the bus an ice cream, which is exactly what we needed during the long ride.

As we approached Las Vegas, the excitement on the CaSPA bus rose. We passed all of the great sites and famous landmarks such as the replicas of the Eiffel IMG_0300Tower in Paris and the Statue of Liberty in New York. After the CaSPA team had settled in the hotel we made our way to The Bellagio to see ‘O’  performed by Cirque Du Soleil which was filled with amazing talent and flexibility. It was a great experience and one of the greatest shows the CaSPA team have ever seen. We made our way back to the front of The Bellagio, after the show, and made it just in time to watch the water show which was stunning and so precise.

After a long and tiring day, we finished with a a trip to In and Out Burger IMG_0364for dinner and enjoyed the taste of American fast food. Today was by far one of the most tiring and exhausting days for the CaSPA team but we still enjoyed every minute of it.

INSTAGRAM: PHOTO of the DAY

DAY 4: 15 March by Liana and Maci

Today we had our first Arena concert in front of a crowd of 8000 people at the Religious Education Congress in the Anaheim Convention Centre. We supported and performed with John Burland, Michael Mangan and Andrew Chinn, together with students from St Mary’s San Diego school. The feeling of performing on the Arena stage was exciting and brought a rush of adrenalin to every performer. After the performance we received many compliments and there were photographers wanting to take photos of us, leaving each performer feeling as if they were a celebrity.

DSCN6319Towards the end of the morning, after the concert had finished, we were taken to the exhibition hall and were allowed time to split up and walk around to see all the different types of stalls. We’d have to say that the best part of the exhibition, hands down, was run by Joe Melendrez, a religious rapper who likes to preach the word of God in a fun and bubbly way. He also has a line of clothing called, ‘God Swagg Apparel’ We spent the majority of time at his stall, discussing being Australian which led to a full dance rave between the CaSPA Kids, a couple of bystanders and Joe himself with the music blasted throughout the whole hall. To us, this was one of the highlights of the day.

DSCN6332We also enjoyed the ‘Ducks Vs The Kings ice hockey game at Staples Centre. What was funny was that none of us realised just how brutal this game could be and how involved the crowd becomes for their team. Even though the home team, LA Kings, did not end up winning – Ducks 2 def Kings 1 – it was still a night filled with laughter and smiles and a great way to end the day.DSCN6336

INSTAGRAM PHOTO of the DAY