"I'm looking forward to the performances," Rachael said. "Europe is going to be cool, and it will be cool to perform there, too. I'm excited about going to Disneyland Paris. My family and I went to Disney World in Florida during Christmas vacation, and I want to compare the two."
To apply to Sound of America, Rachael had to get three recommendations, fill out an application and obtain a passport. She was exempt from having to submit an audition tape because she qualified for state band last year.
Rachael began playing the clarinet in fifth grade and advanced to first chair by seventh grade.
"I really started practicing then because I was competing with eighth-graders," she said.
She still occupies the first chair in the clarinet section.
Samuel Forney, director of the Greencastle-Antrim High School Band, said Rachael has natural talent, but also works hard.
"She's one of the best clarinet players we've ever had at Greencastle," he said. "Only one other clarinet player has gone to all-state since I've been here, and Rachael has gone further by going to all-Eastern."
Forney has been band director at the school for 22 years.
Rachael has been concentrating on her solo work, most of which is classical music, to prepare for district band. She takes weekly private lessons and tries to practice an hour a day.
Both her parents, Larry and Patricia Stepler, majored in music in college. Her mother is an elementary school music teacher and a former church choir director, and her father is band director at McConnellsburg (Pa.) Junior/Senior High School.
Rachael said she grew up listening to her mother's church music and her father's percussion ensemble.
Music is not Rachael's only interest. She is an assistant to the instructors at Clarissa's School of Performing Arts in Greencastle, where she takes acrobatics, ballet, tap, jazz and pointe.
Recently accepted at Penn State's main campus as a pre-med major, Rachael said she is "fairly positive" she will go into pediatrics. She plans to minor in music, and try out for marching band and wind ensemble.
Students selected for Sound of America's 27-year-old chorus and band are responsible for the cost of the trip.
Rachael is asking churches and civic clubs to let her perform for them, and may approach local businesses for donations. She estimates she will need about $3,800, plus spending money.
A fund for donations has been established at First National Bank of Greencastle.