Elena Ramos began playing the clarinet when she was in the fifth grade. Since then, she has developed a passion for music and has picked up the saxophone, piano and flute. Music has always come naturally to her.
"I've just always really understood it," Ramos said. "It helps me express a part of me that I haven't figured out how to express in any other way."
Elena's passion and dedication to music recently earned her a place in the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. In a ceremony at Caesar Rodney High School on Thursday, Elena was officially invited to join the band and was given her commemorative jacket.
Out of roughly 1,300 students from across the nation who applied, only 125 were selected. Elena is the third CR student in the past five years to be accepted into the program.
The long journey toward the All-American Bowl began last school year when Ramos' band teacher, DuWane Sandlin, nominated her for a spot in the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band.
"You have to be a great player to be able to get this gig," Sandlin said. "She's a very hard working young lady."
After Sandlin's recommendation, Ramos was required to memorize a piece of music, videotape herself marching and playing the piece and an additional piece of music. Ramos put a lot of work into preparing her video audition.
"I practiced for about eight hours a day," she said. "It gets really frustrating when I can't do something, but my mentality is that I am going to be successful. So every time I fail it's just another reason to get back up and do it again. My only option is to succeed."
Ramos' hard work and dedication have made an impression on her family, as well as Sandlin.
"It's incredible to watch it," said Elaine Ramos, Elena's mother. "You have to be pretty bright to be able to accomplish something like that."
Elena and her fellow musicians will travel to San Antonio, Texas for a week where they will spend five days practicing marching to a piece of music, which they have to have memorized before traveling to Texas. Their week-long trip will culminate in a performance at half time of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game.
For Elena, the U.S. Army All-American Band is just the first step in a career that she is hoping to dedicate to music. Elena would like to major in performance while at college and hopes to go on to be a member of a professional orchestra. Joining the band will give her a leg up.
"I think this will help me out a lot for getting into college," she said. "It will show that I'm serious about what I'm doing."
Page 2 of 2 - The Caesar Rodney High School senior may have her eye on college and a degree, but for now she is excited for her trip to Texas.
"I'm excited to work with kids who try as hard as I do at what I love," she said. "[I'm excited about] meeting all of these great new people and just getting to experience something where I'm surrounded by people who love music as much as I do."