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Kyrene Middle School Mariachi Program Receives International Recognition

 Posted October 2021


The Kyrene Middle School (KMS) Mariachi program was recently recognized on the world stage. The 2021 International Baccalaureate (IB) Education Conference featured a virtual performance by KMS Mariachi students. More than 2,000 attendees from 85 countries registered to take part in this global event.


During the 2020-21 school year, the KMS Mariachi class was unable to meet in person. Practices and performances went virtual. Students recorded themselves playing their instruments from home, and Mariachi teacher Julio Contreras edited their performance videos together to create music magic. One Mariachi virtual performance was so memorable, KMS IB Coordinator Kathie Cigich submitted the video to the conference. The KMS Mariachi video was one of just a few student performances selected worldwide.


“The International Baccalaureate program teaches students how to think globally through different cultural experiences,” Ms. Cigich said. “Mariachi music is a cultural experience and a great example of how KMS brings the IB philosophy to life.”


Mr. Contreras has been teaching at KMS for six years, and this is the fourth year of the Mariachi program. Mariachi is a class and an extra-curricular experience at KMS. Over the next few years, Mr. Contreras hopes to expand the Mariachi program to include a style of music known as Tex Mex or Tejano. 


“It is an honor to represent KMS, Mariachi, Kyrene School District, and the American Southwest at this international conference,” said Mr. Contreras. “I hope when other IB school leaders see and experience Mariachi music they consider introducing it to their students wherever they are in the world.”




The City of Tempe, in partnership with Kyrene, has provided grant funding for the purchase of instruments and uniforms to support the Mariachi class. Recently, Mr. Contreras received an additional grant from Tempe through the city’s Arts in Education program. He plans to use his 2021 grant to purchase accordions.