Ray Zentz, the Moffat County High School choir instructor, quoted an old expression Wednesday.
"You haven't made it until you perform at Carnegie Hall," he told his class.
If that's the case, one might say 13 MCHS students and one high school student from Meeker will have "made it" after Sunday.
Those students left on a plane for New York City Wednesday night for a 2 p.m. Sunday performance.
Zentz, who will sing with his students, said it was a dream opportunity.
"Having a chance to perform at Carnegie Hall is one of those things that will probably never come up again the rest of their lives," he said. "It's one of, if not the premiere, performing venue in the world."
The opportunity to go on the trip came in February, when an invitation was sent to MCHS from Steve Grieves, a professor at Mesa State College, who will direct the Carnegie Hall performance.
Six Colorado high school choirs will participate in the event.
In addition to summer and after-school practices, the students have been working since last year to raise the $1,500 per student necessary to go on the trip.
Cassidy Young, a ninth grader, said she has visited New York before but doesn't remember the trip because she was so young at the time.
She said she is looking forward to seeing the sites and shopping, and, of course, performing in Carnegie Hall.
"It's really amazing when you think about all the famous people that have performed there," she said.
Famous people like the Beatles and Frank Sinatra, piano accompanist Julia Foster told the students Wednesday.
"Many people have big moments in their careers at Carnegie Hall," she said. "It's the pinnacle of the careers of many performers. It's their goal to perform there."
She listed several political figures who have spoken in the 2,200-seat venue, such as Woodrow Wilson and Winston Churchill.
"You'll never sing in a place with better acoustics than Carnegie Hall," she said.
Students also will get to tour New York City, visiting monuments such as Ground Zero and the Statue of Liberty. They also will take in attractions, such as Times Square.
"I'm kind of scared," ninth grader Rachel Kane said of going to Ground Zero. "It's really sad, but I think it will be a good thing to see."
Ninth grader Holly Firestone said she has a mission on the trip.
"I'm going to look for all of the restaurants and stuff on "Friends," she said.
While New York City, students also will attend a performance of Les Miserables. The musical is scheduled to be performed by the MCHS theater department at the high school at the end of November and has created some controversy.
The students, many who have parts in the school's performance of the musical, also will have backstage passes at the New York City performance, Zentz said.
Ninth grader Laurel Luke, who is in the school's production of "Les Miserables," said it's her favorite musical.
"I'm excited to see it," she said. "It will give me ideas to bring back for the whole group."
Kane, who has family in New York City, will have many familiar faces in the audience for the choir's Carnegie Hall performance.
"They are all going to come watch," she said.
Ninth grader Becky White summed up her reasons for wanting to go on the trip with three simple words. "It's New York," she said.
In addition to seeing the city, performing at the premiere venue will be a memory, she said.
"It's exciting that I'll always be able to say, 'I've sung in Carnegie Hall," White said.
Despite the student's excitement, Zentz said he didn't think the opportunity at hand had yet sunk in.
"I don't think the kids realize the significance of performing there," Zentz said. "It's something they'll talk about for years."
Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.