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- Captures Tumultuous Year in the Life of a Top-Ranked High School Mariachi  Band -

Mariachi High documents a year in the life of “Mariachi Halcon,” a top-ranked competitive high school mariachi band in the rural ranching town of Zapata, Texas. The program is part of the PBS Arts Summer Festival, a seven-part event anchored by films that highlight art, artists and performances from around the world. Mariachi High airs Friday, June 29, 2012 at 8 p.m. on Eight, Arizona PBS.  

Using the band and its music as a lens, this spirited documentary focuses on Mexican-American teenagers pursuing excellence and finding strength in themselves, as well as a connection to their cultural heritage.

Despite the economic challenges in Zapata and its school district, charismatic mariachi director Adrian Padilla creates a championship-level music ensemble that can compete against larger, more privileged schools from around Texas. The determined students in Mariachi Halcon are not only gifted musicians, but also gifted students –among Zapata High School’s academic top 10 percent. In the past five years, all of the students who spent four years in Mariachi Halcon graduated from high school and went on to an institution of higher learning.

“At a time when Latinos have the highest dropout rate in the country and when arts education continues to be under attack, we found a story of teens who pursue excellence through their cultural heritage despite some very real challenges,” says MARIACHI HIGH producer and director Ilana Trachtman. “This is an exuberant story about ambitious and talented Mexican-American teenagers — whom you hardly ever see on screen.”

About Eight, Arizona PBS

Eight, Arizona PBS specializes in the education of children, in-depth news and public affairs, lifelong learning, and the celebration of arts and culture -- utilizing the power of noncommercial television, the Internet, educational outreach services, and community-based initiatives. The PBS station began broadcasting from the campus of Arizona State University on January 30, 1961. Now more than 80 percent of Arizonans receive the signal through a network of translators, cable and satellite systems. With more than 1 million viewers each week, Eight consistently ranks among the most-viewed public television stations per capita in the country. Arizonans provide more than 60 percent of the station's annual budget.

Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University.