OCILLA, GA (WALB) –It's a rare honor for a high school band to perform in a major college bowl game. The Irwin County Marching band will get that honor.
They're the only Georgia band invited to perform for the 2012 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. They're already prepping for this once in a lifetime experience.
For some of these students, the news was somewhat shocking. "I didn't think we would be invited to a big event like this but I guess we did," said 8th grade student Jordan Burkett.
"We have come from basically a really bad nothing band to something really big," said 10th grade student Anita Leverett.
The Irwin County marching band was recently notified they were one of only 15 bands invited to perform in the halftime show at the 2012 Sugar bowl in New Orleans, "I'm thrilled for the kids they have worked very hard," said Bill Belcher, Band Director.
For this marching band, it's their first bowl game performance. "They told me this was the biggest honor this band has received," said Belcher.
Students say it's thanks to the leadership of band director Bill Belcher, who was able to turn the band around. "He's made us better players and we are more educated about the music," said Leverett.
"I've been able to turn it around somewhat and the kids are beginning to believe they can do something," said Belcher.
Belcher is no stranger to bowl games, before coming to Ocilla he spent 10 years as the director of the Tift County marching band. He recalls several meaningful trips in the past, but says this one will be especially meaningful because it will be his last. "I plan on retiring soon, I've been at a long time so this will be my last shot," he said.
The band will also compete in a Battle of the bands, and a stand up concert in the French Quarter.
In order to go on the trip, it's going to cost somewhere around $60,000.00 dollars.
The band is holding fundraisers, right now they are selling cinnamon rolls and next they will be selling Boston butts.