Nederland High eyeing first-time band trip to Disney World

Published 12:18 am Sunday, July 23, 2023

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The Nederland High School band has created a legacy of excellence through the hard work of several long-standing directors and a host of dedicated student musicians.

However, when newly installed band director Gary Janecek spoke this week in front of the Nederland Independent School District Board of Trustees, he wasn’t sure if the band had ever made an official school trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

“We have the opportunity to go to Disney and do what’s called a soundtrack session,” Janecek said. “We’re going to divide all of our band into two groups and go into a recording studio. They are going to pass out music. Some professional musician from Disney is going to work with them, and they are going to record a soundtrack that is going to go along with a short movie.”

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Janecek, who was named Nederland’s director of secondary music education following the retirement of longtime leader Greg Rose, said when the soundtrack session ends, participating band members receive a copy of the movie complete with the student-led soundtrack to take back home.

According to Janecek, the bands at Bridge City High School and Port Neches-Groves High School have done this exact thing previously to extremely satisfying results.

All the students who go to Disney World on the class trip have the opportunity to perform in the recording session.

“This is a fully student-funded thing,” Janecek said. “There are no District funds or school funds that will go to pay for this. We will also have multiple fundraisers throughout the year for the students and opportunities for sponsorships. We have a band booster organization and part of that is they have fundraising.”

During his presentation this week, Janecek said he had yet to delve to deep into what it would cost individually or as a group because he wanted to get final approval from Superintendent Dr. Stuart Kieschnick.

“I think it is a great idea,” Kieschnick said. “I don’t have any problem with it. I think it is a good experience.”

Numerous members of the school board also echoed their support for the effort, with no one disagreeing.

Janecek stressed the unique opportunity as a partial motivating factor.

“Some of these kids will never have the opportunity to go to Disney with their family,” he said. “It may be $1,000 for a kid to go and experience all of that. You multiply that by a family of four or five, and some families can never afford that.”

The Nederland band and chaperones are planning to depart April 1 and return April 5.

April 1 and 2 are student holidays, and Janecek said band leaders are trying to minimize the students missing actual school time.

“We want as many kids to go,” he said. “Somehow I am going to figure out a way for the students who cannot economically afford to do it and work something out with sponsorships. Every student should have the opportunity to go.”

Janecek grew up in Beaumont and graduated from West Brook High School. He went to Lamar University and majored in music because he wanted to take lessons from Jimmy Simmons, he said.

Simmons went from music director to administrator to president of LU and is considered a talented musician.

It was Val Rose who hired Janecek to work in Nederland. Janecek has been responsible for numerous bands throughout the years.

“It means a lot for me to be able to do that in this new capacity. I’m happy the administration had enough confidence in me to do this job,” he said earlier this summer.

Stephen Hemelt is the president of Port Arthur Newsmedia, which publishes, The Port Arthur News and Greater Port Arthur The Magazine. He can be reached at or 409- 721-2445.