LA Trip Updates and Fall Concert

Hello again!

It's been a fantastic year so far and we are back in the swing of things around here. All three choirs are getting ready for their first concert, which will be here at Akins on October 5th at 7:00 PM. We are also getting ready for the LA Trip, which I am so excited for! Please remember the deposit is due 9/29/2017. More information on both items below:


Here's how concerts work for new folks (and veterans that might just need a reminder!):

Afterschool: ALL students help move risers and piano to Theater. Students have a rotation of singing, changing, or eating. Students need to bring their own sack dinner. Please do not order pizza to the school. I have tried providing food in the past and it leaves me with no time to rehearse since I'm organizing food, so the sack dinner is the way to go.

6:30 PM: All students are changed, fed, and warmed up. Theater opens and parents may start arriving to watch their student perform.

7:00 PM: Concert starts! We rejoice in being able to create special memories through a wonderful platform of music. Come support your student! It means the world to them.

8:00(ish): Concert ends. Students need to stay the WHOLE time to help clean up. Attendance is taken at the end of the night when everything is put back in place, and if students are not there, they are not counted present and will not receive credit for the concert.

Uniforms: All students have been fitted for tuxes/gowns, which the school provides, but you will need to provide the shoes/socks that are necessary to look our best. Black flats for ladies (NO heels), and dress shoes (NO sneakers) for men. If your female student wishes to wear a tuxedo, that is completely fine, they just need to have the appropriate dress shoes. Stud earrings are fine, but nothing dangling. No other jewelry is permitted (if your student has a piercing that cannot be removed, they must cover it with a bandaid). All hair must be pinned or tied back.


The LA Trip deposit is due on 9/29/2017 ($100). Please make checks out to Akins Choir, as I will be collecting all payments and then sending in one large check. Please remember that the contract is due with the payment - please do not send them separately as it gets very hard to track. 

If your student has any remaining fair share balance ($80 for choir, $20 for piano) that bill is due before you will be permitted to pay the trip deposit. If you aren't sure, ask your student to log into Charms for you (or send me an email and I can explain how) to see your balance.

Remember the form is due whether you are paying the balance with fundraising funds or other funds. EVERY student in 6th period MUST turn this form in on time. All other students only need to turn in the form if they are going on the trip.

Parents that wish to chaperone should let me know how many people they would like to room with (other chaperones). The single chaperone price is $1553 (the extra money accounts for the extra hotel room). 

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions! I'm only an email away! Thank you for sharing your students with me - they make every day the best day and make me love my job.

Spring Trip to LA, California Information

Choir and Piano Parents,

As some of you may know, our trip to Washington D.C. had to be cancelled due to testing dates. However, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We were able to put together a trip for Los Angeles, California for the following weekend. The trip is outlined below:


Friday, April 20, 2018

  • Depart Akins HS for the airport and fly to LA.

  • Once in LA, go to lunch (included in tour price)

  • After lunch, go to University of Southern California for a clinic and performance. (This is a huge deal - the students will get to work with one of the biggest names in choral music, Jo Michael-Scheibe)

  • Afterwards, go on a driving tour of LA and Hollywood.

  • Dinner at Hard Rock Cafe in Beverly Hills (included in tour price)

  • Head to Anaheim to check into the hotel.

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

  • Breakfast provided at hotel (included in tour price)

  • Disneyland! (all meals included in tour price)

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

  • Breakfast provided at hotel (included in tour price)

  • Universal Studios (all meals included in tour price)

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

  • Breakfast provided at hotel (included in tour price)

  • Fly home!

I think this will make a fantastic trip, and will be well deserved after a very busy and stressful UIL season. The students will then have the opportunity to work with one of the best musicians in the world, whom I have a great deal of respect for, Jo Michael Scheibe.

Scheibe’s Bio: He chairs the Thornton School of Music’s department of Choral and Sacred Music at the University of Southern California. Currently serving as Chair of the Past President’s Council of the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), Scheibe has served as National President, National President Elect, Western Division President, and National Repertoire and Standards Chairperson for Community Colleges. Under his leadership, the USC Thornton Chamber Singers received the 2015 American Prize in Choral Music, performed for the 2015 ACDA National Convention in Salt Lake City (his seventh appearance at that event) and were one of twenty-five choirs selected to perform at the Tenth World Choral Symposium in Seoul, South Korea in 2014.

Scheibe has collaborated with artists ranging from Luciano Pavarotti to Sir Elton John and the Rolling Stones, and he has prepared choruses for international conductors Helmuth Rilling, Michael Tilson Thomas, Sir Colin Davies, and more. Recordings of his ensembles have been released on the Albany, Cane, Naxos, Arsis and ANS labels.

Price:  $1145 (All taxes and gratuities are included)

I know this is more than I had originally planned for the D.C. trip, but we were able to get all meals included in this price. I’ve done everything I can to get the price down - I think I’ve called airlines every day for the past week trying to find the best flight price. Everything is included in that price: flight tickets, hotel, Disney/Universal tickets, USC, and all meals. Since our original price for D.C. was $959 without meals, I’ve calculated the increase and it’s actually cheaper! Here’s the math on that:

$1145 (LA Trip) - $959 (D.C. Trip) = $186 increase

4x meals at Disney ($30 each) = $120

1 lunch at USC = $15

1 dinner at Hard Rock Cafe = $30

4 breakfasts ($10 each) = $40


Total $205 in included meals, making the trip to LA $19 less expensive.


In order to attend the trip, there are a few things that need to happen. Student MUST:

  • Be passing all of their classes

  • Be in good standing with the choir/piano program (all dues paid, attending rehearsals, etc)

  • Have attended UIL earlier in the week of the trip

  • Turn in all required documentation on time

  • Pay fees according to the payment plan on time

Speaking of payment plans, here’s how those work:

  • September 29th: $100 due

  • November 20th: $262 due

  • January 20th: $262 due

  • February 20th: $262 due

  • March 20th: $259 due

So what’s next?

  • Fill out the Travel Contract and bring it back to Mrs. Ballard.

  • Bring $100 cash or a check made out to Akins Choir


Q: Is this trip mandatory?

A: For 6th period Madrigals, it is mandatory. If the travel amount will put your family in undue hardship, please let me know and I will work with you to get grants, fundraisers, etc. to help cover the cost. Every student in 6th period will go. For all other students, travel is completely optional.

Q: What if I need to make a payment late?

A: Any payments made more than 7 days past the due dates above will be subject to a $250 late fee. If the final payment is more than 7 days past due, a late fee of 10% of the balance owed will be assessed.

Q: What if I need to cancel?

A: Perform America-Texas will only accept cancellations made in writing. Written cancellation requests must be emailed to Please allow 30 days for refunds. Below is the refund schedule:

On/before 120 days prior to departure : 25% of cost per person retained

On/before 90 days prior to departure: 50% of cost per person retained

On/before 60 days prior to departure: 75% of cost per person retained

On/before 30 days prior to departure: 100% of cost per person retained

Q: What are the limitations of contraband items?

A: No illicit drugs or other controlled substances, alcohol, firearms, explosives, flammable items, or any other illegal substances or articles of a dangerous nature are allowed at any time. Suitcases will be searched by an adult of the same gender as the student before we depart for LA. If any contraband items are found in suitcases, the student who packed it will not attend the trip.

Q: Can I attend as a chaperone? What do chaperones need to do on the trip?

A: Yes, absolutely! You would need to be at least 25 years of age, and we need a chaperone for every 10 students, but will always be open to taking more. Please indicate on your form if you are thinking about chaperoning. You will be in charge of a group of 10 students. There will be passenger count each time the group boards the buses to assure all students are present and accounted for.

Q: What about damages incurred on the trip?
A: Damages incurred during flight, transportation in LA, etc, will be the responsibility of that individual.

Q: What about photographs taken during the trip? Do I have any control about where those go?

A: The travel agency we are working with states that: signature on the enrollment form grants Perform America-Texas, LLC and its employees, agents, and assigns the right to photography my dependent or myself during the course of this trip and use the photo and/or other digital reproduction of him/her/me or other reproduction of his/her/my physical likeness for publication processes, whether electronic, print, digital or electronic publishing via the Internet and waives any rights of compensation or ownership thereto. Travel without signature implies permission granted.

Q: What if my student misbehaves on the trip?

A: Minor misbehavior will be dealt with on a teacher/student basis and should need no further intervention. If students engage in any activities that would be punishable at school by referral, they will be sent to the airport and flown home early at the parent’s expense.

Q: How do fundraising funds apply to this trip?

A: The first $80 (choir)/$20 (piano/theory) in profit goes to pay for the student’s fair share fee for the class. Everything above and beyond that made in profit goes directly to the trip.