Snowstorm, travel hiccups strand Waianae students on East Coast

Snowstorm, travel hiccups strand Waianae students on East Coast
(Image: Shanita Akana)
(Image: Shanita Akana)

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK (HawaiiNewsNow) - Waianae Intermediate School's choir is stranded on the East Coast after performing at a festival at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The students spent months rehearsing and fundraising for this trip of a lifetime. They joined six other schools selected from across the country for a mass choir performance on Sunday.

"It was such a touching moment for me when I was up there on stage," said seventh grader Lilly Kapua.

The 10 students and five chaperones were supposed to fly home on Tuesday; however, a snowstorm caused the airline to cancel their flight out of Newark. They were rescheduled for Wednesday morning, but their shuttle bus was late and there were ticket problems at the airport. Three people from the group rushed onto the plane. The others that didn't make it to the gate in time were turned away.

"We were short by minutes. By minutes, we missed our flight and it was heartbreaking. It really was. We cried," said choir director Shanita Akana. "It was painful because it was like, now what? Now what? Where do we go from here?"

The three people who boarded the plane got off and rejoined the group. All of their checked bags, which contained most of their warm clothes, were already on the flight to Honolulu. Some of the students were wearing slippers. The temperature outside was about 25 degrees.

"The weather is so cold and my hands were so cold. My face was numb," said eighth grader Kailee Teixeira.

The next available flight for all 15 of them isn't until Friday, according to Akana.

"I was worried about my son getting stuck there for more days than he was supposed to, and worried of course about the finances," said parent Robin Kelii.

The students, parents and staff raised $25,000 to pay for the trip. Now they face unexpected costs, including hotel rooms and food. Still, they're trying to make the most of this unforgettable experience.

"We're here and we're together and that's the main thing," Akana said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the kids cover expenses.

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