NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The new year is beginning with the honor of a lifetime for a Long Island high school choir.

On Friday, they boarded a plane for Rome, after being invited to sing at the Vatican.

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As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, there was excitement and anticipation outside Terminal 5 at JFK Airport as 43 students from the Glen Cove Chorale stepped off a bus to begin their journey to Rome and the Vatican.

“I’ve never been out of the country before and this is my first time, and I’m glad it’s with these people singing for the Pope,” Isaiah James said.

Two-years-ago the award-winning choir performed for the president and first lady.

Now, they’ll sing for the leader of the world’s one-billion Catholics.

“My family really looks up to the pope, so it’s like an important individual in their lives, so I’ll definitely be feeling the butterflies,” Samantha Filippone said.

The group has practiced up to 4 hours a day to perfect their Latin. Some of the songs chosen are 600-years-old.

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There will be performances at several historic Rome churches before joining Francis on the Feast of the Epiphany.

“We’ve got the Papal Mass we’re doing on January 9th. We’re joining eight other choirs for that as well as two formal concerts that will be open to the citizens of Rome,” choir director Ed Norris said.

Many of the 25 parent chaperons on the trip are just excited as the students.

“I was originally from Sicily. This is my first time at the Vatican, first time with the pope. I can’t wait to go through the holy doors,” Antoinette Bellomo said.

The chorale raised nearly $50,000 in donations with students kicking in $2,000 each. The long flight is the last hurdle for the amped up teens.

“Singing for the pope is like a huge deal. Never done anything like this, it’s insane. It’s crazy,” Mikhaela James said.

It’s an amazing opportunity for some talented teens.

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The chorale will arrive back at home next Friday.