There were trumpets blowing in Washington, D.C. today as First Lady Michelle Obama invited the 12 winners of the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award to the White House this afternoon.
Chosen from a pool of more than 350 nominations and 50 finalists, the City of San Fernando Mariachi Master Apprentice Program (MMAP), was one of the recipients of this high honor.
MMAP, a project created in 2001, is made up of Grammy-Award-winning mariachi masters Mariachi Los Camperos, led by Natividad Cano, and Mexican middle and high school students. The students learn mariachi instruments such as violins, guitars, guitarrones, vihuelas, trumpets and the folk harp, to be able to play traditional sones, rancheras, huapangos, boleros, and polkas. Throughout the year they attend festivals and conferences such as the Fresno Viva El Mariachi Festival, and the Tucson International Mariachi Conference.
Over the last decade, the graduation rate of MMAP students has remained 100 percent, at a time when statewide graduation rate of California is 76 percent, and that of their own school district is 58 percent. Additionally, many MMAP students have pursued higher education and have attended some of the most prestigious universities, including MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UCLA.
The awardees are recognized by Mrs. Obama for using the arts to increase academic achievement, graduation rates, college enrollment, as well as improve literacy and language abilities and cultural awareness.
The ceremony included a live performance by eight youth musicians from MMAP and a presentation by a student from the New York City Urban Debate League, two of this year’s awardees.