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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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,

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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 

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Even the Secondary teachers were trying to solve the riddle!

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

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Rachel – determined but confused!

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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.

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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

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Today was a very exciting day, just as we had hoped. We were able to experience lots of love and joy from an amazing crowd at the RE Congress Workshop with John Burland. We then drew a close to our day with some fast paced shopping at the Orange Outlets, followed by a lovely tour family dinner at Café Tu Tu Tango.

DSCN6263Unlike our past early morning wake ups, we were able to relax with a nice sleep in until 8:00. (YAY) After a buffet breakfast, we went straight into rehearsals and ran the whole workshop. This workshop consisted of 14 of John Burland’s songs from his Alive in Christ CD’s. Ensuing the rehearsal, we all walked to the Marriott Hotel where the workshop took place. The workshop had great atmosphere where the audience was willing to give anything a go. We had a fantastic time showcasing the Word of Our Lord through song and helping John do this by singing and dancing along with the willing crowd. DSCN6310

After the workshop we hurried over to our hotel, frantically ran up to our rooms with fifteen minutes to get ready and rushed back down. We were going to have to catch two buses in order to get to the Orange Outlets to go shopping. If we missed the second bus, we’d have to wait a whole hour for the next bus… AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FO DAT! Once we arrived, we quickly split up into groups. There were the run, dive and buy groups and the more relaxed shoppers. The end of our shopping trip left us bombarded by what seemed to be an endless amount of shopping bags. We were given the chance to shop in many nameworthy outlets such as Guess, Converse, Victoria’s Secret, Forever 21, Skechers, Bath and Body Works, DKNY and Pacsun.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 7.29.09 pmAt 7pm, the cast darted away from the shops and shot over to dinner at Café Tu Tu Tango, which was a delicious Spanish restaurant. The Entrée was a healthy salad dressed with a vinegarette, giving it a flavorful tang. The main was a delectable variety of perfectly grilled chicken skewers, succulent pizza slices, and interesting eggrolls. Dessert was a scrumptious-hot-chocolate gooey soufflè. The woman serving us was an incredibly warm hearted person who was only interested in giving us the best meal of our trip. She made us feel at home and fare welled us with hugs and kisses.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 7.28.50 pmAfter dinner, we quickly hurried towards the bus stop to head back to our hotel, which we had unfortunately missed. We passed the time with games, jokes, singing, dancing and stories on the sidewalk. After a long wait we finally crammed onto the bus and found ourselves a seat. Usually, we’d have to get off at Disneyland and catch another bus back to our hotel, but the bus driver was nice enough to take us straight to Red Lion. On the bus we spoke about our plans for the next day. When we arrived back at the hotel, we caught the Disneyland fireworks and watched them from the front of hotel. As soon as we got inside, we prepared our performance uniform and got ready for bed.

Today was a very enjoyable day! It was very high speed; definitely what some would call chaotic. Despite this, it was a great time. Learning to shop with others to cater for the wants and needs of the whole group, as well as engage with an audience of people both young and old, having enough energy to get the whole crowd up on their feet is needed for an ensemble. We are definitely looking forward to the rest of the tour.

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DSCN6208Today we visited the happiest place on Earth! Filled with bright lights, awesome rides and good vibes, Disneyland was the place to be!

We had a 9am start and, as a group, we went on the Stars Wars and Buzz Lightning rides at Tomorrow Land, a place of the future. We then made our way to Toontown for the Disneyland workshop! In the workshop, we were working on performance techniques including improvisation and offer and accept. These techniques were beneficial and we will continue to use them throughout our performances.DSCN6224

Next, we split into groups that were determined by our interest level in theme park rides. The thrill seekers went with Iris, John and James while the less daring went with Nancy and Jenny Lee. Disneyland had a variety of rides catering to everyone. From level 1 tea cups to level 5 colossal roller coasters, it gave everybody an opportunity to enjoy themselves.

DSCN6232At around 5:00 the whole ensemble reunited to watch the Aladdin Show at the Hollywood theatre. This was a classic tale with a humorous modern twist. We then separated again and participated in more rides. As the day was coming to an end, every group shared a pleasant dinner and went shopping at the gift stores.

Disneyland was a place that inspired all of us to be better and brighter people everyday. It left us with the feelings of hope, happiness and courage for our future dreams and aspirations.

As quoted by Walt Disney, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”. 

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On the 12 March 2014, The CaSPA Tour Team boarded Virgin Australia Sydney to LAX Airport.DSCN6136 Further through the flight we got to know each other more fondly. During the flight, we were entertained with a variety of games, movies and TV shows. For dinner we had a choice of chicken, beef or vegetables. There were also frequent snacks and drinks. For breakfast we had a choice of potato bake or scrambled eggs and after 5 hours we were in LA.

When we got off the plane we went through customs, then got our bags and went through the final check point. We jumped on a bus for a 6 hour tour of LA, Beverley Hills and Hollywood. We saw many different things – super stars’ homes and went to Farmer’s Market ( a community shopping mall celebrating 80 years ) We even saw Kat & Tara from Dance Academy and we were ‘over the moon’ Then we were off again to see the ‘Stars’ along the celebrity walk of fame. We were hoping to also see the ‘Hand Prints of Stars’ outside the Chinese Theatre but unfortunately there was a red carpet covering them ready for a new movie premier. Soon enough, the Hollywood sign came into view. It was spectacular.DSCN6181

After taking loads of pics we battled the LA peak traffic as we headed for the Red Lion in Anaheim. The 1st thing on our list as we arrived was a quick rehearsal with John B. We had to snap out of jet lag and begin our ‘tour energy and spirit.’ After a quick but tiring rehearsal a delicious italian meal was awaiting us. We gobbled it up keenly, our stomachs rumbling after a long day. Finally, we got our bags, went to our rooms and freshened up. Today was a long day of travelling but we had the most fun day and love CaSPA and can’t wait for the many surprises that this tour holds.

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