Bowie High School celebrated the official naming of its new principal in grand Bear fashion with the famous Mariachi Orgullo, the cheerleaders, dance team and marching band.
Frank Ordaz, interim principal for the past 10 months, appeared through the smoke inside Bowie’s inflatable tunnel to a line of cheerleaders before greeting about 400 cheering students in the gym.
“I’m proud to be at Bowie,” Ordaz told the students during the early-morning pep rally. “I’ve seen the success and have seen the struggles here at Bowie and I want you to know I am committed. We are all committed to being here with you. We’re here because of you and we’re here to be with you.”
Ordaz has been part of the Bowie community for many years. He became an assistant principal at Bowie in 2013 and prior to that served as an assistant principal at Guillen Middle School, a feeder school to Bowie. He considers the promotion “one of the greatest opportunities” of his life.
“I have the responsibility to make sure students who graduate from Bowie have the same opportunities that I did and that they are able to attend a university, join the military or go to a technical school,” he said. “I want our students to walk with their head held high. They are ready to take on the world and to succeed.”
Student council co-President Kimberly Martinez thought Ordaz was a great choice to lead Bowie.
“He knows our traditions and he knows us and we know him,” she said. “He’s going to be really good as principal because he was already good as an interim and assistant principal.”
Ordaz told the students his first call after being named was to his parents.
“Like many students here, I’m the son of two immigrant parents who came to the United States and that pushed education on their children to make sure they are able to achieve the dream. Being here at Bowie is very close to my heart. I’ve been through what some of our students have been through. I’ve seen it.”
Ordaz, who has spent his entire 17-year educational career in EPISD, taught special education teacher at Hornedo Middle School and later became a home hospital teacher for students at the El Paso Psychiatric Center. He also has served as an assistant principal at Canyon Hills Middle School. He graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in rhetoric. His received a master’s degree in educational administration also from UTEP.
He looks to the future of Bowie with excitement and pride.
“The best is yet to come for Bowie,” he said. “We will be providing great programs that will ensure students learn at a high level and achieve at the highest level possible.”
Dr. Carla Gonzales, assistant superintendent of high schools, congratulated Ordaz and told the crowd he was an ideal fit for the campus.
“You deserve to have the very best and someone who understand what it is to be a Bowie Bear and the traditions that are here,” Gonzales told students. “Bowie High School is going nowhere and either is Mr. Ordaz. We’re here to stay and show the city what we can do. His heart is here and his belief in what you can do as students and staff is true and real. The next few years are going to be phenomenal in the history making for the bears.”
The welcome ceremony was held Friday, December 8th.
After one of the more memorable seasons in local high school football, the regular season was sent to end on a high note, with the Battle of the Southside – Jefferson vs Bowie – at the Sun Bowl.
The Silver Foxes and Bears did not disappoint, with Jefferson capping their season with back-to-back wins, sending the playoff picture into a scramble and dismissing Bowie 26-16. (Listen to the full broadcast here)
With their victory, the Silver-Foxes force a ‘flip-off’ between the teams tied for the final playoff spot; in a turn that could have only been written for an episode of ‘Friday Night Lights,’ Jefferson won the toss and took the final playoff spot.
What do you think of when someone mentions the Segundo Barrio? What comes to mind? I asked those questions of the people on the Remember El Paso When Facebook Group and received some amazing answers.
“It is a place where neighbors know each other and lend a helping hand,” says Arlene Salazar. “You belonged to a community and everyone took care of each other. The ice cream truck passed by every afternoon and I would buy a blue raspa with ice cream on top, this was the bomb. Could play outside with family and friends till the sun went down not a rich community but boy there was plenty of Love, which made us a rich community”
“I come from a family of 10, my Dad had his own business and as we were growing up we became his cashiers and my brothers were the stock boys,” shared Guadalupe Soto Faz. “Around Christmas we sold Christmas trees, we always compete with each other when it came who sold the most trees, it was Christmas money which it wasn’t much, good memories, I had the best parents.”
And then there is Minerva Cheatum, “My god parents were Modesto and Tutis Gomez. They had and lived at the wholesale grocery store on Stanton and 7th. They helped the people in the Barrio. My godmother, was at one time on the PTA at Aoy where their kids attended grade school and the went on to attend Bowie. Tito, Gloria and Ofelia.”
Others remember the food, and its flavors. There was the Bowie Bakery, and so many other Mom and Pop restaurants. Others speak of the art, the murals and the artistic expression of the Barrio.
To everyone I spoke with, the Segundo Barrio is a special place. It remains close to the hearts of current and former residents.
“It’s always there,” said Rosa. “It’s a part of you, no matter where you go.” Rosa now lives in Portland, Oregon. “It’s the heart of El Paso.” I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never found another copy like El Paso, or a neighborhood like the Segundo Barrio. It’s rich in history, heritage, and tradition.
It’s the Segundo Barrio’s traditions of family, community and artistic expression that are being carried on by Bobby Lerma of Segundo Barrio Apparel.
Earlier this year, we introduced you to Bobby and his company. In that article Bobby had said he would be giving 30 to 35% of the companies profits to Bowie Athletics and their feeder programs. It’s a promise he was unable to keep.
“We did promise to give 30 to 35% of sales,” says Bobby Lerma. “We didn’t keep that promise. We actually went up to 70 to 75% going to Bowie and Guillen Middle School.”
With Guillen they helped with the first annual Southside Football Camp. “Between 45-50 kids attended and we provided the tee-shirts, and a Deejay for them.”
There are the tee-shirts and sports jerseys they’ve donated. There were football helmets that were donated, as well as backpacks when school was just starting. If there is something the students need, and if Segundo Barrio Apparel can get their hands on it, it will be given.
“Kids need help,” says Bobby. “Kids in that area need some type of help, and this is just the way I am helping them.”
Bobby, and those working with him are more than willing to help anyone in the Segundo Barrio, that’s why the percentage give rose to 70 to 75%, to help meet those needs. Those needs can seem insurmountable at times.
We all know that there are teachers who buy school supplies for their students. Not every parent can afford the items on those ever-growing lists. The same is true for athletics. Football helmets, like the ones Segundo Barrio Apparel donated can cost upwards of $300. That money is not always there. So, Bobby steps in.
It’s not everyday that someone does something truly altruistic for a whole community. Yet, it’s being done for the Barrio.
What makes this even more amazing is that, locally, they are only open one day a week!
“We only do it three hours a week,” says Bobby. “Saturday, we have our sale, from 11 to 1pm, and that’s it.” Bobby says it has the feeling of a barbershop, when they are open. “People come in from out of town,” he says, “and they tell stories. People who buy one or two tee-shirts end up staying and talking about the past and how good it was.”
The stories that are told are vivid, full of imagery, and a longing for times past. Yet, when you walk through the Segundo Barrio you are walking into a strange juxtaposition of old and new. Those traditions that generations were raised with are sill there today.
Bobby knows about the Segundo Barrio and its traditions. He grew up on Seventh and Ochoa. He knows the needs of the community, and how best to help them. What Segundo Barrio Appeal is doing is helping to meet that need, and you can help by visiting them and buying tee-shirts, hats, and more.
According to Leos Guillermo Portillo, that tradition and drive for excellence runs deep in the Barrio.
“El Segundo Barrio means identity and roots for our city of El Paso,” says Leos. “El Segundo Barrio, on of the oldest neighborhoods in El Paso and the birthplace to great men and women, it means an exchange of cultural changes between Mexico and the USA. It describes the authenticity of our men and women workers with a great effort to excel in their environment as in their family circle.”
With Bobby, and his family I can see that. They are striving to make changes in the community, and the lives of future generations through Segundo Barrio Appeal.
“It’s not only just a section of El Paso,” says Bobby Lerma “I know it’s probably the section with the poorest, but there is a lot of culture, a lot of history, a lot of pride. People who get out of there want to contribute. They do it differently. I have friends that coach there, others who go back and apply to teach at a school there. And I have my friends at Bowie. A lot of us Bowie ex’s come back and try to help out.”
To me, the Segundo Barrio is the heart of El Paso. It is the dreams, hopes and aspirations of a community that can drive the rest of us to experience simply by their example.
You can visit Segundo Barrio Apparel on line…but, even better, this coming Saturday, why don’t you visit them? They are open from 11 to 1pm at 4302 Alameda.
The Bowie High School alumni associations are looking for a few Proud Bears. Actually, they’re looking for about 3,800 of them.
A group of Bowie former students is organizing what they hope will be the largest class reunion ever certified by the Guinness World Records, and to do so they need to officially register more than 3,638 former students or employees of the South Side school.
The Guinness World Record attempt is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, November 11, at the Sun Bowl Stadium of the University of Texas at El Paso. The festivities will occur during the annual homecoming game between the Bowie Bears and their rivals the Jefferson/Silva Foxes; a game that H-P Radio will cover live.
“We know our alumni have pride,” said organizer Mary Romero. “We just need them to register, come out to the Sun Bowl, and show everyone else what Bowie Bear Pride is all about.”
Registration fee is $15 in person during one of many registration centers that will be set up between now and the event.
People may register online at www.bowieguinnessrecord.org. The cost there also is $15 plus a processing fee. The fees will go toward paying the Guinness organization. Any outstanding balance will be donated back to Bowie.
All registered people will receive a T-shirt and a registration bib that will help Guinness officials certify the number of attendees on the day of the event.
To register as an alumnus or a former employee, people must produce the following documents:
A Bowie High School diploma or a yearbook showing a picture of the person being registered.
If your name has changed since high school, the legal document showing the name change.
A copy of a current identification card.
Organizers said registrations are going well, and that already people from throughout the country and even Europe have reached out to them to ask about the reunion.
“We want every decade of graduates to be represented,” said organizer Linda Murray. “We have someone from the 1930s already signed up. If she can make it, so can everybody else.”
Bowie Interim Principal Frank Ordaz said the world record attempt will be one of the most exciting ways to celebrate a special milestone in the school’s history: the 90thgraduating class at the school.
“There’s a lot of history and a lot of community pride around this class,” Ordaz said. “I am confident that we will have more than enough people at the Sun Bowl to break the world record. That excitement will carry us over to graduation ceremonies in June.”
For more information, and to register online click this link.
One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and thanks to a generous donation, the Bowie High School football team is now ready to go, Bears, go.
They’re made of blue leather and not suede like the famous Elvis Presley song, but the Bowie Bears this season will sport new Under Armour cleats donated by the Class of 1975.
The Bowie alumni raised $1,600 to buy 25 pairs for the team, delivering the shoes on Aug. 11 before the start of practice.
“There’s a little less stress for the coaches and a feeling of connection to alumni groups by our current players,” football coach Roberto Padilla said. “Hopefully when they are older and they feel they can help their alma mater, they will come back and do so as well.”
Class of ’75 alum Jesus Gonzalez helped coordinate the fundraising efforts, reaching out to his fellow classmates and other Bowie alumni to raise the money.
“We sent a text to everyone we know that could help, and they came through,” Gonzalez said. “Everyone chipped in what they could, and we even have had some big donations, like from Jorge Molina, who sent $200 from Oahu, Hawaii.”
The Class of ’75 is always looking for ways to help their alma mater, celebrating their 40-year reunion two years ago by donating 30 pairs of cleats.
“We always try to help the school in one way or another,” Gonzalez said. “Whether it’s helping with fundraising or having cook outs before the game. It’s very rewarding. You feel good about helping someone else and giving back to the community.”
The students were grateful to start the season with new blue shoes to match their Bowie blue uniforms.
“I really like the shoes. They are in our school colors,” senior Troy Torres said. “We love the blue and white and will wear them with pride.”
Senior linebacker Ricardo Valles is looking forward to wearing the new cleats for his last year as a Bowie Bear.
“It’s a great feeling to be supported by our alumni like that,” Valles said. “I think it will help us play with more pride because we know we represent a lot of people in the community that support us.”
Gonzalez remembers his time as a bear fondly, even when times were tough. He hopes helping the team gives them the encouragement they need to keep playing with the pride the south-side school is known for.
“Helping them brings back memories when we used to play. We had to share shoes and equipment from the Varsity team. We never had anyone that would help us,” he said. “It’s great to know these kids won’t have to worry about that. They were very thankful, and we told them we were proud of them for everything they do – that they have the heart and attitude to win another championship.”
Students, staff and alumni of Bowie High School will gather on Saturday to officially dedicate the gym of the South Side school in honor of one of its legendary players and former coaches: Basketball Hall of Famer Nolan Richardson.
The EPISD Board of Trustees this spring unanimously approved a community-based request to name the gym after Richardson, the former Bear basketball legend who played college basketball for Don Haskins at UTEP and gained national fame as the head coach of the NCAA championship team from the University of Arkansas.
The name change for the gym was spearheaded by members of the Bowie alumni community, including the Memory Lane Committee. The group spent months advocating the change and speaking with community members about their plans.
Bowie Principal Dr. Michael Warmack said the school has welcomed the name change as yet another sign of pride for the school.
“Nolan Richardson stands as proof of the power of education and what a community like our can do to help students succeed,” he said. “Our students will play in a gym that bears the name of someone who, like them, came to this school and achieved his potential.”
The dedication ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Bowie High School gym, 801 S. San Marcial. The public is invited. Richardson is expected to be in attendance.
Bowie High School welcomed more than 100 incoming freshmen during the school’s annual Cub Camp last week for a day filled with fun activities and learning.
New Tech administrator Amanda Burruel organized the event to help freshmen become acquainted with the campus, faculty and staff before the beginning of the new school year.
“The transition from middle school to high school can be difficult for some of the students,” Burruel said. “Anything we can do to connect them to the school and present to them what we have to offer will help them feel more at ease.”
The scavenger hunt or “Bear Hunt” was created to help students pinpoint places on campus, such as the library and counselor’s office.
They were asked to take a selfie at each destination on the scavenger hunt list. Freshman Lesslie Alonso was hesitant about going to the camp at first but was happy she participated after learning what it was all about.
“I am now excited to start school,” Alonso said. “This has been a fun day.”
Students received a warm welcome from the Bowie mariachi group and cheer team, as well as principal Dr. Michael Warmack.
They also learned the Bowie fight song, singing along with Class of 1948 alumnus and retired Army Col. Raul Garibay.
Freshman David Castaneda is looking forward to being a high school student.
“I’m happy to start,” Castaneda said. “A lot of my family has come to Bowie so it’s great to be part of that history.”
His mother and 1985 Bowie alumna Rosa Maria Castaneda hopes his experience at south side school is as memorable as hers.
“I want the best for him,” Rosa Maria Castaneda said. “I want him to be someone in the future.”
The camp closed with an extracurricular fair to inform about the many activities available on campus.
“Part of being a high school student is being able to take advantage of these programs like New Tech that we know helps students be successful,” Burruel said.
Students received their very own Bowie High t-shirts, helping cement the fact they are now part of the “Osos Orgullosos” legacy.
“Bowie is a great high school — the greatest high school in the world,” Warmack said. “We want these incoming freshmen to feel like they are a part of that.”
A small Bowie band emerged with top ratings in UIL at the Marching Competition in the fall and Concert and Sight Reading Competition last month – the first time in more than a decade the band earned a First Division rating.
This performance by the Bears is another sign that the Bowie High School Band is experiencing a sort of renaissance that is bringing back a storied tradition of having outstanding music programs at the South Side school.
“The Bowie Band under Jasmine Torres’ leadership and vision has been able to accomplish some amazing things in just a short period of time,” said Michael Phillips, director of Fine Arts. “Ms. Torres does not see a small number of students as a detriment but as a positive. Every student is held to a high standard of accountability.”
It’s then quite appropriate that students sometimes play the “Rocky” theme song on their own before band class: “Trying hard now…Getting strong now…Won’t be long now.”
“Last year, there was a lot of improvement,” Torres said. “We were definitely taking our first steps to putting us on the map, but we weren’t quite there.”
In the fall of 2014, the band had 19 students – most with little to no music experience – and a brand new director one year out of graduating from UTEP. Torres’ first steps were to institute systems to give the program more structure and a true chance for success.
“It made going into this year easier,” she said. “The kids knew what to expect and what was expected of them. They came back improved.”
Students could feel the higher expectations set by their band director and fell in line. Today, the band has 26 members. In marching season a flag corps was added, boosting the band to 30 members.
“I see us growing bigger and becoming more successful,” said sophomore Kevin Nino, who had limited experience playing the baritone last year when he joined the band. “We’ve progressed a lot because of the help of Miss Torres.”
Freshman Alexis Chavez, a clarinet player, was leery about joining the band at first, but Torres helped convince her to try it.
“It’s worth not getting the extra hour of sleep to come in everyday,” Chavez said.
Just like Nino and Chavez, band members are committed to their craft and see the gains the band has made in the short time they have been involved..
“We are the heart of the school,” Nino said. “We have the most pride.”
He especially likes the band’s job of cheering on their team during football season. “We’re helping our team to win when we are on the field,” he said.
Their commitment to learning and improving in the band room is obvious.
“The kids have a lot more pride because they know exactly where they started and the behind-the-scenes to get here,” Torres said. “It takes a committed student to be here at 6:30 a.m. every morning. They know all those sacrifices meant something. They stand a lot taller.”
Principal Michael Warmack beams with pride talking about the Bowie band.
“Getting the students into band was just the first step,” he said. “Ms. Torres has also worked hard with students throughout the year preparing them for competitions. Add to this, several of our alumni associations have also come through with donations which enabled us to hire band-techs, mostly college students, to work with our students in small groups.”
The band techs have helped refine the students talent on their individual instruments.
“Most of our students are not financially able to take private lessons and the extra help they receive at school makes a huge difference in their confidence, ability, and sound,” Warmack said.
Warmack’s goal for Bowie is to have 100 percent of the student body participate in an extra curricular activity such as band.
“Engaged students are better students academically and they are better students in terms of discipline,” he said. “They bring a pride back to Bowie that will make future students want to attend Bowie High School. We hope to continue the growth and success next year.”
Music and instruments are the tools to any band class but teaching work ethic is key to building the band.
“Our circumstances don’t mean anything,” Torres said. “Yes, there are limits but not excuses. You need insane, relentless work ethic.”
Torres has already seen this “insane, relentless work ethic” in her students.
“They’ve become more passionate, more proactive, more desiring to help,” she said. “What I see in them makes me really proud that band has been a tool to teach them this. I’m humbled to be their teacher. They have taught me more than they realize.”
It was playoff time in the Sun City Thursday night, as the Bowie Bears visited the Eastlake Falcons. The high-desert raptors took it to the Pride of the Southside, as the Bears lost to the Falcons 62 to 14. Check out our very own Mike C’s view of the contest in tonight’s Story in Six Pics
It was the Battle of the Southside Thursday night at the Sun Bowl, as Bowie took on their down-the-street rival Jefferson. The Bears took back the helmet, defeating the Silver Foxes 28 to 0, and securing a playoff spot.
Andres Acosta brings you all the action via this Story in Six Pics (and a few extra, too) Feel free to share!