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Ray High School freshman plays her way to All-State Band

Rachel Perez, 14, is the only student in all of the Corpus Christi Independent School District to make All-State Band for the 2022-2023 school year.
Posted at 8:13 PM, Jan 25, 2023

CORPUS CHRISTI — A Ray High School musician was recently named one of the best high school flautists in Texas and the only student in all of the Corpus Christi Independent School District (CCISD) to make All-State Band in for the 2022-2023 school year.

“I was just so, very very surprised,” Rachel Perez said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

For 14-year-old Rachel, it’s more than just a school activity, it’s a passion.

“I kind of feel at peace whenever I’m playing it,” Rachel said. “Like everything drowns away whenever I start playing.”

She was in 6th grade when she first picked up the flute.

“My mom played it so I wanted to play it,” Rachel said.

The Ray High School student stands at just 4 ft. 10 but plays with the power and passion of people twice her size and age.

Outside of band rehearsals, Rachel spends 15 to 18 hours a week practicing at home.

William Perez said he knew his daughter had a gift.

“She was practicing in the living room,” William said. “And I heard her play and I stopped and I just listened. She didn’t know that I was listening and I was. I was stunned.”

It was sentiment shared by family friend and Ray assistant band director, Nancy Hesch.

“I said to her dad ‘She’s going to be really something special.’" Hesch said. “She’s going to be really good. I can tell already.”

Even though Hesch recognized her talent early, Rachel said there were times during competition where she doubted herself.

“Prior to district, I had zero confidence and I could never see myself getting this far but whenever I started getting good at all of these competitions I thought ‘maybe I could,” Rachel said.

She could and she did. Rachel was named second flute chair for the 2022-2023 All-State Band.

“You just climb up from district, to region to area and you encounter better flutes every time you go,” Rachel said.

She beat hundreds of musicians to get there.

“She is the only band member from our district that made the all-state band this year,” Hesch said.

Hesch said it’s an incredible accomplishment, especially for a freshman.

“Tt’s very rare when you find a student with Rachel’s passion,” band director Felix Hernandez said.

“I wish that I could take credit for that,” William said. “That’s all her. She’s just a firecracker whenever she sets her mind to do something, she does it. And, there’s no stopping her.”

Rachel said she strives to inspire others when she performs.

“I want them to feel like ‘Wow’ whenever they hear me,” she said.

She thanked her family and mentors for helping her along the way.

“Without their support I would not be motivated to keep on doing better and be the best that I can be,” Rachel said.

“I’m so proud beyond words,” William said. “I am.”

Rachel said she plans to go to the University of Texas in Austin where she hopes to make the band there. Her goal is to become a doctor.

“Playing the flute has helped me built a better determination and better work ethic to better pursue that,” Rachel said.

She will perform with the All-State Band at 1 p.m. on Saturday Feb. 11, at the Lila Cockrell Theatre in San Antonio. The school planned a pep rally send off for when she heads to San Antonio, Feb. 2.