Raeven Barrett is a survivor.
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The El Dorado High School senior has survived a rocky start to her childhood. There was the death of her father and the lengthy adoption process whereby she and her four siblings were adopted by their great-aunt, Jeanette Barrett and the arduous selection process for her appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.
The same tenacity, intelligence and problem-solving that enabled her to survive childhood obstacles made her a first class marksmanship shooter, a green belt in karate, president, secretary, registrar and curator of the Sacramento Society for Children of the American Revolution, a drum major for the El Dorado High School marching band, a boxer, a leader in the Indian Education Alliance, an academically successful student and a member of a popular local singing group, the Barrett Tones.
Raeven, who turns 18 this month, went to a Summer Seminar last summer with the idea of applying to the Air Force Academy.
“But I liked the Navy’s approach better,” said Raeven. “The Navy was more team-oriented and I like working with other people.”
Only a couple of weeks after her June 1 graduation from El Dorado High School, Raeven and Jeanette Barrett will be on their way to Annapolis for Raeven’s Plebe Summer. After the six-week boot camp, Raeven will begin her academic year at Annapolis.
“The first day they cut our hair and we give up all our civilian items including cell phones,”said Raeven.”We’ll be the lowest of the low, so it will be a challenge.”
All clothing and equipment, including a computer, is provided by the Academy. Raeven will have one phone call during her Plebe Summer Camp, a major change from constant contact with her mother and siblings.
“It’s going to be mentally and physically challenging, “said Raeven, “but I’m looking forward to the feeling of being part of something so challenging. I’ve heard the Academy is not the place you want to be at; it’s the place you want to be from.”
Jeanette Barrett, 71, said that the entire family was interviewed for a couple of hours by officers from Annapolis as part of the selection process. “They said it was hard to pick from the most competitive and intelligent group they’d had in nine years.”
Three El Dorado County high school students were appointed to Annapolis: Raeven, a male student from El Dorado and a male student from Ponderosa.
Raeven started the application process last May. Then she underwent physical tests, completed paperwork and essays for both Annapolis and Congressman Tom McClintok, and interviews with McClintok’s office and Annapolis Blue and Gold officers before receiving McClintok’s congressional nomination and the appointment to the Naval Academy.
“It will be weird to be all the way over on the East Coast, away from my family,” said Raeven.”But not having music might be harder.”
According to Raeven, first year Academy students, plebes, are not allowed to listen to music — even in their few free hours.
“Music is a big part of my life — it’s a stress reliever and it gives me something to do,” said Raeve, who enjoys classical and jazz music.
In addition, she is a flautist in the high school’s marching band. She and her siblings — Donecia,16, Ciara, 15 and twins Dariana and Damian, both 12 — are part of the Barrett-Tones. The group performs monthly at senior care facilities and at local fundraisers, singing upbeat music.
Although all plebes have the same classes that first year, all must take a sport. “I’ve heard that marching band can be considered a sport,” said Raeven. Annapolis also has an outstanding choir. “I love singing and I love playing music, so that will be a hard choice to make.”
After surviving the first, most intense year, Raeven will complete a four college education at Annapolis where she plans to major in civil engineering.
“She’s a math genius,” said Jeanette Barrett. “She helps all the kids with their math homework — I don’t know what I’ll do without her.”
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.