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SAN DIEGO – This year’s Big Bay Boom national anthem singer knows the power a teacher can have.

After all, if it weren’t for one teacher in her life, she likely would be singing a different tune altogether.

Rachael Groeneweg, a graduate of Mount Carmel High School, has pursued a teaching career since her days in the choir room of that school. She’s since graduated from Cal State San Marcos, and is on track to take over the very choir program that put her on the path she is on today.

A victim of abuse, Rachael didn’t know where to turn when she faced the worst of it her sophomore year at Mount Carmel. But it was her choir teacher, Marti Martinez, who was there for her when she needed it most. Marti helped Rachael get out of the abusive situation with her family, and ultimately, welcomed her in as an honorary member of her own. 

“(Martinez) just wanted to fix it then and there,” Groeneweg said. “She wanted to get me out. She wanted to get me safe. She assured me that it was not my fault.”

Martinez says she saw the potential of Rachael — not just as the musician she is — but as the person she is.

“When you pull someone out of something like that, that’s not something you forget,” Martinez said. “You don’t forget that person. It creates an instant bond.”

Now, Rachael, who refers to Marti as “Mom,” wants to follow in her footsteps. As Marti sees retirement in her sights, Rachael envisions a day when she can take over the choir program at the school.

Marti has been there for Rachael when she’s needed it most. 

Rachael hopes to do the same. For Marti, for her Marine husband, and for all the victims of abuse who she hopes to inspire with her rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner on the Fourth of July in America’s Finest City.

Catch all of the action of the Big Bay Boom during FOX 5’s hour and a half special program starting at 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 4. The show features a behind-the-scenes look at what makes it possible before the fireworks show running from 9 to 9:30 p.m.