Big Day For Local Teens! Clinton Welcomed By BCHS Band
Big Day For Local Teens!
Clinton Welcomed By BCHS Band
By John C. McLoughlin
Beach Channel High School’s band, under the directorship of teacher Mr. Barry Domfort and paraprofessional Mr. Ron Kornegay, played all their signature songs with tremendous enthusiasm, zeal, spirit and competence as they welcomed the Clintons to New York on Saturday, January 20.
Bernard Gassaway, principal of Beach Channel High School, stood proudly as his students rose to this auspicious occasion.
The Beach Channel band was invited to perform by Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer. Under the organization of Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Deborah Lakoff, the students, staff and parents of Beach Channel boarded their buses for the trip to JFK Airport’s TWA Hanger 12, where they were to assemble and welcome President William Jefferson Clinton as he arrived in New York as "citizen Clinton."
The students were also witness and participants in all the security precautions that are in place when in the presence of a President. As all the "welcomers" entered they had to pass through metal detectors, have their bags and purses opened and checked, and in some cases were subjected to random personal scanning. Specially trained dogs sniffed out each musical instrument as the Secret Service, with listening devices in their ears, were everywhere.
Undeterred in the bone chilling cold, the students played their repertoire of songs. As the guests waited in the hanger for the arrival of the Clintons, a cadre of dignitaries were present to greet the arriving former first family. Such notables were former Mayor David Dinkins, Congressman Gregory Meeks, Assemblyman Jerry Nadler, Consumer Advocate Mark Green, UFT President Randi Weingarten, union leaders and other government officials.
The program consisted of the Beach Channel High School band entertaining the crowd interspersed with short films showcasing President Clinton’s highlights in office. Then all of a sudden, the wall of the hanger began to retract and the crowd was treated to an open view of a plane with the words United States of America on it. No longer called Air Force One, it was referred to as Special Mission One. The President’s plane landed right in front of the hanger for all to see.
After a few minutes, and with the Beach Channel band heralding their arrival, President Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton disembarked, waved to the crowd and made their way to the podium. Senator Clinton spoke first, thanking the Beach Channel band for playing, as well as acknowledging those citizens that came to greet them. President Clinton thanked all for "welcoming citizen Clinton" to New York in such bitter cold weather. The former first family then made their way down the line to shake hands with their welcomers.
After the Clintons and their vehicles left the tarmac, Beach Channel’s students and staff were allowed to enter the restricted area to afford Steve Gellert, coordinator of Student Affairs, to take a picture in front of the airplane that has and will continue to transport the President of the United States.
With frozen feet, numb lips and tired arms the Beach Channel High School band boarded their bus home, all the richer for this experience. As for the other welcomers, they went home all the richer for hearing the beautiful music of the Beach Channel High School band.