It’s your sixth-grade year. The long-anticipated day has come when you and your classmates file onto the school bus and head to the Wagon Wheel to watch the Holiday musical. You arrive and are ushered to your seats where just rows behind you another school of 6th graders files by. Over 800 fellow students sit back as the lights dim and the music begins to play. It’s your first time attending a live musical performance. It’s a memory you will never forget.

Since the early 1980s, Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts has offered field trip matinee performances to schools in and around Kosciusko County during our Holiday musical. The goal of the field trips is to provide a musical theatre experience to all students in our county at least once in their education and provide students with a common experience, a common memory that unites them. This is accomplished by removing cost barriers to students attending and collaborating with schools to bus thousands of students to the Wagon Wheel each year.

Through a grant from Kosciusko County Community Foundation, Wagon Wheel offers the field trips free to all Kosciusko County 6th graders. To further remove barriers to other grades or schools outside the county, all other field trip attendees pay a heavily reduced price of $6 per ticket.

This year, 973 6th graders in Kosciusko County attended Annie for free. An additional 4,130 students attended at the reduced rate. Students from Bremen Elementary Schools, Carroll Middle Schools, Churubusco Elementary School, Coesse Elementary, Columbia City High School, Lakeland Christian Academy, Lincoln Jr. High, Maple Creek Middle School, Metro North Elementary School, Milford Schools, Pierceton Elementary, Sacred Heart, South Whitley Elementary, Tippecanoe Valley Middle Schools, Triton Elementary, Warsaw Community Schools (Elementary and Edgewood/Lakeview Middle Schools), Wawasee Middle School, Winamac Community Middle School and several other home school co-ops attended across the seven field trip performances.

Education programs are a fundamental component of Wagon Wheel Center for the Art’s mission to unite our community and provide opportunities for students to learn and grow. School field trips to the theatre allow students to experience diversity, relate with each other or with different people, places, and times, all while fostering an understanding and appreciation for the Performing Arts. Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts wishes to thank Kosciusko County Community Foundation for supporting the field trip performances for all 6th graders as well as the schools and parents for helping organize the field trips.