BILLINGS — Twenty-four students from Miles City found themselves in an uncomfortable situation over the weekend. They had traveled to Billings for the Eastern State Solo and Ensemble Festival only to learn their hotel rooms had been given away. Fortunately, Rocky Mountain College came to their rescue.
“I was very anxious throughout like the whole day, asking every teacher for updates every five minutes about the rooms,” Claire Kuchynka, a junior at Custer County District high school.
Rooms had been reserved for the students at a Billings hotel for Friday night, but those had been given away.
“What we were told is that they were overbooked by 20 rooms and the owner decided that we were the ones that weren’t going to get the rooms,” said Mark Brown, choir director at Custer County District high school.
These students had left Miles City at 4:45 in the morning to attend the music festival Friday and had events lined up on Saturday.
“Had we driven back to Miles City that night and come back in the morning I would have gotten like two, maybe three hours of sleep,” said Kuchynka.
So parents and staff got to work from Miles City.
“We were scrambling, looking for somewhere to have the 24 kids stay on Friday night,” said Meghan Brown, superintendent of Miles City Unified school district.
Parents looked into all options, but other hotels were already booked.
“My parents had called, stayed up really late the night before calling around, seeing if we could stay at the local youth center or in the basement of some other building,” Chloe Sutter, senior at Custer County District high school.
Finally, they found a solution.
“During the day I was getting updates, “okay, we can stay at Rocky’,” said Mark Brown.
Rocky Mountain College offered the students and teachers rooms free of charge on campus.
“To be able to give an experience to hopefully a future college student either here or elsewhere, that they had a great experience on a college campus in the residential program, it’s really heartwarming,” said RMC Director of Auxiliary Services, Shaydean Saye.
RMC Residence Life Manager, Abigail Peterson, was on-site to help the students with anything they needed.
“I mean I’m just doing my job here, I’m happy to help those high school students cause it’s important to have those experiences outside of the classroom,” Peterson said.
The restful night of sleep definitely helped the students at the festival.
“We got 29 superior awards which is a big deal, especially coming back off a year where nobody did this,” said Mark Brown.
These students will never forget the night they stayed at Rocky Mountain College.
“We’re just extremely grateful that we got to stay there, and we’re very glad we got to sleep,” Sutter said.