For students involved in the orchestra within the Conway School District, the annual taco supper night is more than just an event.
The sixth through 12th grade students not only get to serve the community through food and show them what they’ve learned through the years, but they also get to raise money for their group.
Director Casey Buck, who took over the orchestra at the beginning of this year, said the night has several parts.
“It’s kind of three events in one,” he said.
The first part of the night consists of the Taco Supper meals in the Conway High School cafeteria.
“This is the fundraising part of the evening,” Buck said.
The second and third part, which kind of go hand in hand, consist of the silent auction on the second floor of the Buzz Bolding Arena and the free orchestra concert on the floor.
Buck said the auction will have a lot of great items from homemade goods to donations made by local businesses.
The whole night, he said, is a fun time.
“It’s a really laid back atmosphere,” Buck said.
He said the proceeds from every Taco Supper — which has been held for more than 20 years — goes toward an annual competition trip the group participates in, scholarships to attend summer camps and other extra things for the students.
Last year the event brought in more than $14,000 and this year, Buck said they are projecting around $12,000 to come out of the night.
He said this year the group has plans to attend a competition in Chicago, Illinois, where they will play in front industry professionals who give comments and feedback and work with the orchestra.
“We really do it to get ourselves out there and get some feedback from some really great high-caliber educators out there,” Buck said.
He said the competition is typically a great experience and beneficial for everyone including himself.
“I think in some ways it validates a lot of what our kids do already,” Buck said.
While he can tell them all day long how great they’re doing, hearing that from professional people is different.
Traveling for the event every year, Buck said, is also a way for the orchestra to truly showcase their talent and be an example of the great students the state and the district is producing.
He said he once had someone come up to him to acknowledge and recall how memorable the orchestra was a year prior to that conversation.
“[That] speaks to what a strong program we have, what great kids we have [and the] support we have in Conway,” Buck said.
He said the Taco Supper is just another way for them to show people that the Conway orchestra has something special.
“We’re really proud of them,” Buck said.
The orchestra, he said, is different from the band in that it doesn’t collectively get to perform for people the way the band does at games and is ultimately like a secret.
“A lot of people just don’t know we’re there,” Buck said.
The taco supper events draws people out and gives the community a way to see what they are all about.
While they’re in Chicago, Buck said the group will also have the amazing opportunity to see legendary composer John Williams conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
As an homage to that, he said the high school orchestra will be performing songs by Williams in addition to some classical pieces, movie pieces and more.
Tickets for the supper event, which will be from 5-8 p.m., are currently being sold but can also be bought at the door $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Buck said the concerts run from 6-9 p.m. with the auction going on from 5-8 p.m.