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Mariachi students hoping to win big at state competition

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT – Feb. 22, 2024) — Four El Paso ISD schools are heading to Seguin, Texas, this weekend to compete in the 2024 UIL State Mariachi Festival. 

Earlier this year, Austin, Chapin, Coronado and Franklin high schools earned Division 1 ratings at the UIL regional tournament, which was held Jan. 27. 

Students at Austin have been preparing for the state tournament for weeks. This will be the team’s first time heading to the state competition.  

“The students are so ecstatic and happy about going to compete at state,” said Christina Hernandez, orchestra and mariachi director at Austin High School. “I teared up a little when I first saw the trophy that we won during the regional tournament and so did some of the students. The students are working hard and they’re just grateful to be performing at the state competition.” 

Similarly, the mariachi students at Franklin High School are continuing to make final adjustments before heading to Seguin. It the second time the Cougar contingent heads to the state tournament.  

“This is redemption for us,” Franklin senior Anai Santos said. “I think this year we’re definitely going to be better.”  

The mariachi program at Franklin High School began as a club but was later added as an elective class. The program has been growing ever since — with more students signing up.  

“In the Southwest, mariachi programs are big because of the culture in the community, but students take away much more from this program,” said Mike Hernandez, the mariachi director at Franklin High School. “There’s a high percentage of students that retain what they’ve learned here at the high school level, and they go on and continue to play and appreciate the music.” 

Leslee Way, the mariachi director at Coronado High School, agrees that students have immense gains through their participation in the program.  

“The mariachi class is a place for students to do something different that’s not traditional. The music is what keeps everyone captivated and involved because it’s fun and beautiful,” Way said. 

Hannah Reisinger, a senior at Coronado High School, has been in the mariachi program since her sophomore year. She is one of many students who will use the teachings to help her future goals.  

“I’m planning to study music education in the future, and I also plan on performing some mariachi music on the side,” Reisinger said. “I had friends who told me to take the class during my sophomore year and they told me it would be fun. Even though I didn’t have any interest in mariachi music at the time, I wanted to try something different, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. I started to appreciate the music more.” 

The 2024 UIL State Mariachi Festival will run from Feb. 22 to 24. 

Austin Mariachi Group Franklin Mariachi Group Coronado Marachi Group