WENATCHEE — If music can heal the body as well as the soul, 8th District Congressman Dave Reichert was in the right place Friday.
His right arm in a sling and heavily bandaged from a corrective surgery he’d had just that morning, the Issaquah Republican walked into Ramon Rivera’s music room in Wenatchee High School to a masterful serenade by the school’s multi-award-winning youth band, Mariachi Huenachi.
The players looked like plain old high school students in their street clothes, but their musicianship lived up to the charro finery of the performance dress they wear on stage.
Reichert looked like a plain old guy in a Seahawks T-shirt and green-soled tennis shoes, but the life lessons he shared resonated with his audience.
“God has his hand on each and every one of us, he told the students, his voice raspy from the anesthetic of the morning’s surgery. “He has a plan in your life.”
His own plan started as the oldest of seven children in a home with domestic violence that he ran away from during his high school years, he told them. He stayed in school and managed to graduate, despite battles with dyslexia and poor grades.
“Honor your parents and your family by doing your best,” he said.
Rivera invited the congressmen to talk to the class about leadership. The two are trying to arrange a performance of the group for Congress or the White House, Rivera said. Fingers are crossed.
“These are the stars of the mariachi music program,” Rivera said of his most advanced students. “Since 2009, 100 percent of these kids have graduated.”
Many of them seemed impressed with the congressman’s story.
“I thought it was very motivational,” said Margarita Villa, 17, a junior who plays guitar in the band.
Her friend and fellow guitar player Mayra Covarrubias, a 16-year-old junior, agreed.
“I didn’t think he’d have trouble getting through school,” she said, pointing to Reichert’s success as a career police officer, former King County sheriff and now a congressman. “I thought he’d have been a straight-A student.”
The visit ended with a final song — “Aires de Mayab” — with featured singer Carla Alcaraz and a photo session, but not before Reichert asked the burning question.
“Show of hands. Do any of you want to get into politics?”
Smiles, sheepishly exchanged glances, not a single hand in the air.