BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield High School band is going international.
The band is starting to raise money for a trip next year to France, where the students will perform two concerts.
Retired Col. Arnald Gabriel, U.S. Air Force Band conductor emeritus, invited the band to perform next June at the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy and the Liberation of France.
Robin Stephens, the director of bands for Bloomfield Public Schools, said Bloomfield's band will play in Paris and Normandy as part of the festivities planned for the anniversary of D-Day -- June 6, 1944, when Allied forces landed on Normandy's beaches during World War II.
Several bands from the U.S. were invited to play in a series of concerts commemorating the anniversary. Stephens said he is excited for his students to join those bands and travel overseas.
"They get to play with musicians from all over the country, and they'll get a chance to work with a world class conductor with Col. Gabriel," Stephens said. "A couple of the kids have told me they've never been out of the Four Corners area."
Between rehearsals and concerts, students can tour famous historical landmarks like Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral and Louvre Museum.
Senior drum major Annalee Garcia described the invitation as surreal but awesome, adding that it recognizes the band's hard work.
"It's like our hard work paid off," Garcia said. "We worked so hard, and now we have this chance, and it's like all worth it."
Bloomfield High Principal Cody Diehl said he was interested in what students could learn about history during the trip.
But he expressed concerns about students raising the necessary money. The trip is expected to cost $4,000 per person, and 43 people -- 38 students, four chaperones and Stephens -- plan to go.
"It's exciting for them, an opportunity that comes around not very often," Diehl said. "It's a lot of money. It's going to take a lot to make it happen and a lot of support from a lot of people."
Junior drum major Emily Wheeler believes students can raise the money with help from corporate donors. A yard/garage sale is also planned, though a date has not been determined.
Junior Logan Boils said he never expected a small band from Bloomfield to get the chance to play internationally. And he's planning to double down on his fundraising efforts.
"I haven't been very good at fundraising, but I'll step it up now," Boils said.