Belaire High School’s band, The Royal Wave, earned the honor of representing Louisiana at the 73rd Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France this June.
The band was invited to perform at a concert in Paris and lead the ceremony in Normandy after winning a battle of the bands contest.
Band director Juvon Pollard said this is an opportunity that many of the band members will only get once in their life.
“We're extremely excited about it. Hopefully we can give them a little bit about what we do. We can bring a little bit of what we do in Paris,” said Pollard.
Like many high schools in Baton Rouge, several of the band members were impacted by the historic August flooding. Pollard says their membership is down from over 100 members to just 88 because students were displaced.
"When we got back to the school after the flood it was extremely hard because our kids had no transportation, no school uniforms, no means of even getting to school,” said Pollard. “Just though music alone they were able to forget about all the outside worries they had. So, this was a huge outlet for them."
Pollard said the D-Day ceremony has been a goal driving his students for some time. They make up for their smaller numbers with plenty of heart and the passionate performance for which the band is known.
“It's a big part of my life because I like playing instruments,” said junior Travis Mason. "When I'm playing my music it makes me happy."
"Just the character of the band. They take on a completely different type of character when it's time to perform," said Pollard.
It’s that character Pollard said he can’t wait to show off overseas, but the band needs some help making the trip. The trip requires over $80,000. Pollard says they still need to raise around $20,000 by April 25.
“We will come and perform. We will do whatever we need to do so that you all can see exactly where your money is going,” said Pollard. “We're so grateful for anything they can do to help us out.”
The band set up a GoFundMe account. Donations can also be made to the EBR Foundation in Belaire High’s name.