Students from a Devon high school are getting ready to head to Belize, in Central America, for a once in a lifetime trip.

The students, from John Maland High School, are part of the school’s jazz band, and will soon be playing and teaching jazz music to the Belizean people

Devon’s mayor, Stephen Lindop, came up with the idea. Two years ago he was in Belize building a playground, and he heard about a school with a music program.  

“I checked out their band and found out they didn't have jazz and I thought, ‘Wow, I'm in Devon, we have a tremendous band program’,” said Lindop.

When Lindop returned, he presented the idea of bringing Devon music students to Belize to band teacher Clarence Samuelson.  

“These kids have great music skills and we know they can go down, and make a contribution, make some new friends and help out another community,” said Lindop. “What a great thing to do.”

The students started fundraising and Samuelson says the response has been overwhelming.

“We’ve got three flutes, a clarinet, twelve trumpets and a cornet, three trombones, a euphonium, a tuba, orchestra bells, keyboard amp, bass amp and a synthesizer we’re bringing down.”

The students will be leaving Saturday and say they are excited to make a difference.

“Jazz has been a pretty good influence in my life, and I hope it can be a pretty good influence in theirs,” said band member Isaac Hicks.

“They don't have the opportunity that we have,” said Grade 11 student Allie Fraser. “We take advantage of these things. I just want to be there to kind of help them,”  

Lindop believes that while the students will be passing along a treasured gift, they themselves will also be rewarded.    

“It's a very powerful experience. These kids will come back changed.”

With files from Susan Amerongen