In mariachi music, students find path to college

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — By the end of a recent weekend, the big achievement among Ramon Rivera’s high school mariachi band wasn’t that they had logged more than 700 miles in a bus packed with musical instruments or that they had played two shows in front of large audiences.

It was that eight of them, all sons and daughters of Latino farmworkers from the agricultural city of Wenatchee, had been accepted into Washington State University — the first in their families to gain admission to college.

“They could be the next lawyers, senators, doctors, and the next president of the United States,” Rivera told a cheering theater crowd that weekend during one of their shows.

The news was one of the success stories from the Wenatchee High School, where officials created a mariachi program to connect children of farmworkers in the heart of Washington state’s apple country with their heritage.

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