DARBY - Darby High School junior Keionna Cartaglia found out that sometimes the best contest to win is the one you never even knew you entered.
Unbeknownst to Cartaglia, music teacher Christopher Whiteman nominated her and classmate Courage Louiviere last school year to be Montana representatives to the Northern Ambassadors of Music for a tour of Europe.
"Mr. Whiteman called us into his office last spring and asked for addresses but didn't tell us why," Cartaglia said. "Then, two weeks later, we got letters in the mail about (Northern Ambassadors of Music)."
The letter detailed a program for students from Montana and the Dakotas that includes a 16-day trip through England, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy and Germany. Participants will perform at Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral and Luxembourg Gardens, among other venues.
"I was quite impressed," Cartaglia said.
But after attending a mandatory meeting in Missoula last summer, Cartaglia and her parents Craig and MaryAnn Brickley found out there was a bit of a catch.
The trip would cost about $6,000, including a payment of $5,100 due by mid-November.
Craig Brickley, who owns Automotive Solutions, said given the state of the economy that kind of money isn't something that can be freed up.
"It's been a very turbulent year to say the least," Brickley said.
Cartaglia said she sat through the meeting doubting her parents would even entertain the idea of sending her on such an expensive program.
"The entire time I'm sitting there, I was thinking there's no way my parents would go for it," she said. "It costs $5,100, and it's a bunch of different countries for 16 days."
But little did she know that her mom, also a band enthusiast in high school, had set her mind that a trip that would have her daughter playing royal halls in Europe needed to happen, never mind the money issue.
When Keionna protested the money and said she thought doing the program wasn't a good idea, her mother set her straight: "You're going."
So Keionna did what any young person with an expensive goal might do - she began baking and selling goods at the farmers market.
Keionna, who is the student body secretary and president of the junior class at Darby High and a National Honors Society president, has thus far raised $1,100.
She will, if necessary, kick in the $900 she has in savings.
And a spaghetti dinner fundraiser has been scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Little Blue Joint in Darby.
Reporter Sepp Jannotta can be reached at 363-3300 or email@example.com.