The East Side High School Choir, under the direction of Latasha Lewis, competed with various choirs and bands during the festival.
"We attend a choir competition every year and this is our fourth time attending the WorldStrides Heritage Festival," said Lewis.
WorldStrides is the largest and most trusted educational travel organization in the United States.
Since 1967, WorldStrides has provided a variety of educational travel programs to more than five million elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as to undergraduate and graduate students at the university level.
Approximately 300,000 students travel each year with WorldStrides to destinations throughout the United States and the world. The company provides the opportunity for educators and students from all 50 states and several foreign countries to experience travel to more than 90 countries on six continents.
"We were up against choirs from New Jersey, Memphis, Wisconsin and many other schools from all over the U.S. This was really a way that we were trying to up our game and receive feedback so that we can continue to grow," she added.
Lewis said judges give them score sheets that explain the areas that they may have deficits in.
"They pretty much tell us what we need to work on and in some cases they have classes with us. They pretty much give their own 'spin' on what we should do to improve our abilities. This really helps me because I get little tips from them," continued Lewis.
"They make comments while we sing and then they give them to me and we grow from there," she added.
Lewis said this year; she took three different groups to competition, the East Side High School Choir, Easts Side High School Chamber Ensemble and the East Side High School Ladies Ensemble.
"We won first place in each category – we received gold. The categories were Concert Choir, Mixed Chorus and Women's Choir. After we received first place, we were then invited to perform at the WorldStrides Heritage Festival of Gold competition. This is usually held in New York or California," said Lewis.
WorldStrides Festival of Gold gives the most elite choirs, bands, and orchestras the opportunity to perform in some of the nation's most exclusive venues and learn under the direction of internationally acclaimed adjudicators and conductors.
Each year's line-up of premiere venues is reserved for the most talented high school choral and instrumental groups.
Every Festival of Gold group spends extensive one-on-one time with music professionals who are at the top of their game and exude a love and passion for music and the performing arts.
Acceptance into the Festival of Gold program is reserved for groups who've achieved a Gold rating at a WorldStrides Heritage Performance standard festival, Superior rating at a state contest, or by audition.
"I am extremely proud of them. To see them get first place makes everything else worthwhile. We put so much time and effort into what we do and it is just a wonderful feeling to be awarded for your efforts. It was like a proud Mama moment," she continued.
Lewis said the Eastside High choir raises about $30,000 per year to fund trips.
"We raise money so that we can participate in various competitions. These places are kind of far; therefore, I do not know if we will travel there. Just to have gotten an invitation to attend is an honor," said Lewis.
She said the students would love to attend the WorldStrides Heritage Festival of Gold and it is an honor to just be invited.
"The kids would love to go because they love to perform and they love to learn their skill while perfecting it during performance. They are always excited about opportunities to perform whether it is in front of Wal-Mart or at a church," added Lewis.
She also said traveling and performing in various places helps to build the confidence of her students and it gives them a skill that they will be using for the rest of their lives.
"It prepares them to sing on a college level, which could in turn help them to get scholarships," said Lewis.