TSC 21st Century program, Porter ECHS keep conjunto tradition alive with performance at Charro Days

The Conjunto History Roots Club at Porter Early College High School, through the Texas Southmost College Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, performed at the Mr. Amigo Walk of Fame, an event hosted by Brownsville’s Mr. Amigo Association during the 85th Annual Charro Days.

The Conjunto History Roots Club was created to keep the tradition of conjunto music alive in the region and is comprised of Porter ECHS students.

“The purpose of the Charro Days festivities is to promote the heritage and culture along the border,” said Prisci Tipton, Ph.D., TSC director of Special Instructional Projects. “We are honored that our students from our TSC 21st Century Community Learning Centers program have been invited to perform during the Mr. Amigo Walk of Fame Star Unveiling Ceremony.”

Conjunto music, also known as conjunto Tejano, fuses Mexican, European and American influences and derived in the late 19th century in South Texas. The instruments that make up a conjunto band include an accordion, bajo sexto, a type of guitar, an electric bass and drum set.

Porter ECHS sophomore and two-year member of the club Miah P. Garcia is no stranger to the Charro Days stage. She has been performing with conjuntos since she was in elementary school, singing and playing percussion.

Today, Garcia said it’s an honor to once again be invited to Charro Days, except this time she also plays the accordion and bass guitar.

“Teaching new generations about conjunto music and keeping it alive is important for us as a club,” said the 16-year-old. “Performing for our community brings such energy to us up on stage. It’s been an honor performing and seeing everyone having fun and enjoying our music.”

The Conjunto History Roots Club is an after-school club, meaning each student dedicates time before or after school or on the weekends practicing and preparing for performances.

For Porter junior Miguel Garcia, his first year as a club member has been one to remember.

“This is my first year in this club and I joined for the unique experiences and opportunities it can give,” said the 17-year-old. “Performing at Charro Days is one of them.”

Learning how to play the accordion, bass guitar and drums has broadened his ability to play different types of music, important because he plans on becoming a music major.

“I’m so thankful to Mr. [Orlando] Moreno our conjunto instructor, Ms. [Lisa] Gonzales our TSC 21st Century coordinator and TSC for giving us this type of opportunity, one we might not get if not for them,” said Garcia. “I hope performing for Charro Days and other community events and the Conjunto History Roots Club continues for years to come to give others the same opportunities it has given us.”

Tipton said she is proud of her Porter conjunto students for committing their time to practicing and performing for their community. She calls this experience an unforgettable teaching and learning moment for everyone involved.

“We are very pleased that our students have access to enriching activities, safe places and caring teachers through the TSC 21st Century Community Learning Centers program,” said Tipton. “Enrichment activities define student’s interests and develop their skills. Participating in these community events that would otherwise not readily be available to them, at-risk students have access to new, enriching experiences that may provide lasting developmental benefits.”

Students from Perkins Middle School in Brownsville also participated as volunteers during the Mr. Amigo Walk of Fame event assisting the conjunto band and handing out water and information at the TSC 21st Century tent.

The goal of TSC’s 21st Century program is to increase academic achievement, decrease disciplinary referrals, increase attendance and graduation rates.

All services and programs provided by TSC 21st Century are provided by the Texas 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant, funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program administered by the U.S. Department of Education.