Community members, students and concerned residents are set to protest a decision by El Paso ISD to put the district’s bus hub on the historic South El Paso campus.
Familias Unidas del Chamizal (Chamizal Families United) announced the rally against the installation of the bus hub at Bowie High School, at San Marcial & Paisano Street for 4 pm on Tuesday, May 1st.
Organizers say that EPISD has “made a decision to establish its central operations hub with more than 120 school buses, butane and gasoline station and repair center at Bowie High School.”
Via a news release, they add that, “Bowie High School students are already disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous pollutants emitted by maquila semi-trucks and international bridge traffic.”
Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, on behalf of Familias Unidas del Chamizal members have filed a Civil Rights Title VI complaint to stop the construction of the bus hub. They contend that, “In El Paso, no other school has a transportation center on their campus.”
The groups further contends that “EPISD did not conduct the proper impact study, they have hired contractors to begin the destruction of the 1949 Bowie High School state champions historic baseball field, to replace it with the facility.”
The group’s news release adds:
According to the City, their ordinance does not permit a transportation facility, as proposed by EPISD, inside the Bowie campus’ property, next to the football and practice field. However, EPISD claims that it is exempt from all regulations because of a state law.
Families United goes on to say, “It is our view that they are misinterpreting the state law because exemptions are granted only if it furthers education and does not endanger the public health of the students. Why has the state granted an exemption that puts the health and security of our student in danger?”
Earlier this month, the EPISD Board of Trustees approved the contract for the construction of the bus hub at Bowie. The funds will come from a 2007 bond, which had initially allocated just over $5 million for the project; but now will cost closer to $11 million.
At the time of the contract award, district officials told several media outlets that they had not received a copy of the complaint, but maintained that it was not a ‘discriminatory issue’ as there were three other hubs spread throughout the city.
According to the group, Bowie students are asking that – instead of the bus barn – the district build “an innovative green cultural arts learning center that would address the existing academic problems, preserve the green area, the history of the 1949 baseball team, and other important history of the Bowie alumni.”
WHAT: Rally Against the Bus Hub at Bowie
WHEN: Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 4pm
WHERE: In front of Bowie High School, San Marcial & Paisano Street
Guest Columnist April 26, 2018NewsComments Off on Tribeca Film Festival Features Documentary on Bowie Students
From walking across the border to walking the red carpet this weekend, the lives of three Bowie students are now forever immortalized on the silver screen thanks to a documentary that premiered at the famous Tribeca Film Festival this weekend.
Bowie graduates Shyanne Murguia and Erik Espinoza and senior Francisco Mata travelled to New York Saturday to attend the premiere of “Home + Away,” a documentary that followed their daily lives as students coping with the reality of living along the U.S.-Mexico border and conforming to a traditional American high-school experience.
“For these students to participate in this documentary is a life-changing experience,” said Simon Chandler, Community Schools coordinator. Chandler escorted the students to the film’s premiere in New York City.
“Their stories are not unique – they represent what a lot of our students go through. These three students realized they represent Bowie and El Paso, and that they are ambassadors for our border community,” Chandler added. “I think they recognize not only the opportunity that they have but also the responsibility to help people understand what makes our students so resourceful and resilient.”
The documentary debuted in New York over the weekend. The filmmakers are planning an El Paso premiere soon.
Bowie was chosen for its proximity to Juárez. The campus sits just yards from the Rio Grande.
The film crew followed the students around for a year, documenting their lives as athletes, students and members of the border community.
Murguia never imagined her life would be showcased in a movie.
“It’s been an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. It showed some of the things we have to go through at Bowie High School,” she said. “My parents got divorced when I was six. I don’t really have a relationship with my dad. We always had it rough. That’s why it felt really great to show my mom her hard work paid off when I graduated and now that I’m studying at Midland College.”
She hopes the documentary has a lasting impression, inspiring others to persevere and dream big.
“The message I want to be shown from my life is that anything is possible. You can overcome the problems you are facing,” she said. “I want people to be strong, not dwell on the bad things and focus on the future because when you get older everything changes.”
For Espinoza, the documentary was the culmination of all the years he spent walking back and forth between Mexico and the United States. During the week he would stay with his grandma in El Paso and on Friday would walk to Juarez to be with his parents until Monday morning when he headed back with his suitcase.
“Truthfully, the movie made me cry looking back at the whole experience. It really focused on all the things I lived through,” he said. “The experience taught me that if you want something in life, you will have to work for it and you will have to make sacrifices.”
The biggest sacrifice for Espinoza was not being able to spend more time with his parents.
“It’s difficult because you go through important moments without your parents and you feel that need for them. They couldn’t come to my graduation, but I am thankful for the camera crew who recorded it live for them to watch,” he said. “It was truly a beautiful moment for them and for me because they sacrificed a lot to send me to school over here.”
Senior Francisco Mata’s heart is divided by the same concrete barrier. He lives with his mother in El Paso, trekking his way across the bridge every weekend to spend time with his father in Juarez.
“My mother is my right hand and my father is my left,” he said. “I cannot live without either of them.”
Filmmakers said the documentary is not meant to provide political commentary on the immigration issues that have made headlines recently. Director Matt Ogens, who is based out of Los Angeles and spent months in El Paso following Bowie students, said the film simply gives a glimpse of how these issues impact those living along the border.
“We all have opinions and judgments on either side of the debate. But often with the news we take a stand or a side from wherever we’re sitting … and we rarely check in with the people affected by the border on either side and see how they feel,” Ogens told the Texas Monthly earlier this month.
For the Bowie students, though, the film was simply an opportunity to showcase the magic of the border and – specifically – Bowie High School.
“We are making history. It has given us motivation to keep working hard and win more games,” said Mata, who is often referred to as “Matita” by his friends and coaches. “I couldn’t believe it. I was so happy and excited.”
The senior was all smiles after the team’s second district championship win this year and having been able to fly for the first time to New York for the premiere.
“Everyone received us very well,” he said. “The movie would end, and we would see people in tears, so everything we have gone through was worth it because they can see how we fight for what we want.”
The three students have forged an unbreakable bond through it all.
“We didn’t know each other that well at first but now it feels like we have known each other for years,” Murguia said. “We are so close now. We feel like a family. Coming back, it feels weird to be separated from each other.”
And that’s how it is at Bowie: a family, a community.
“I want to tell the community in the south side to never lower your head to anyone that tries to make you feel less,” Espinoza said. “Keep fighting for your dreams because anything is possible. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall. What matters is how many times you get up.”
Story by Alicia Chumley | Photos Leonel Monroy & others
Staff Report December 10, 2017NewsComments Off on Video+Story: Bowie Students Officially Welcome Principal Ordaz
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.
Staff Report April 25, 2017Local NewsComments Off on UTHealth School Houston Training El Paso Youth to Become Advocates for Tobacco Policy Change
HOUSTON – To help train youth to become educators and advocates for tobacco policy change, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in El Paso is partnering with El Paso Independent School District high schools to create an innovative new program.
As part of its A Smoke Free Paso del Norte initiative, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation awarded UTHealth School of Public Health nearly $150,000 to implement Youth Advocating for Policy EXecution (APEX). The unique program will teach youth how to advocate for policy changes that will reduce tobacco use among adults, prevent tobacco use among youth and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.
The program, which begins in August, will start at three schools: Bowie High School, Chapin High School and Austin High School. The program may be expanded to include more schools in the future.
“We’re helping to train the next generation of policy advocates and helping foster long-term leadership and career development,” said Louis Brown, Ph.D., the program’s leader and assistant professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health in El Paso. “Most policy change initiatives are adult-driven and don’t involve youth. Youth APEX is not the standard paradigm. Instead, this is a paradigm shift.”
The program will operate as an after-school club at each school, allowing students to participate in five different policy and environmental initiatives throughout the school year. A campus coordinator at each school will recruit students and collaborate with UTHealth staff in trainings, as well as in the implementation of tobacco control activities.
The first activity will be retailer compliance checks, which will focus on enforcing the policies that are already in place to reduce the purchase of tobacco products by individuals under the age of 18. The compliance checks will be conducted in collaboration with the El Paso Department of Public Health and Aliviane, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides behavioral health, treatment and recovery services.
For the next project, students will work on promoting the adoption of smoke-free apartment complexes.
“The students will survey residents about their views on smoke-free housing,” said Brown. “Our plan is to collect the data and share it with property owners to help them consider the pros and cons of smoke-free housing.”
Other activities in the program will include a social media campaign and collective action aimed at encouraging pharmacies to stop selling tobacco.
In the final phase of the program, students will write letters to Texas state senators and representatives advocating to raise the minimum age required to purchase tobacco products to 21.
“We often see youth as part of the problem instead of the solution. They are often underestimated because people don’t see the possibilities,” Brown said. “This is an important public health issue and youth have a powerful voice that is uniquely capable of attracting media attention, garnering sympathy and swaying public opinion.”
It was our family’s second year at the projects in a central El Paso neighborhood known as El Diablo; just a stone’s throw from the Coliseum, I was too young to know about my barrio’s reputation.
We lived at 405 Webber Way, apt 130, a block south from Paisano Drive. I had started second grade at Burleson Elementary, a short walk only four blocks away.
Our teacher, Mrs. Barbara Medlock, was a jet-black brunette with Bette Davis eyes and a happy smile. The girls adored her the moment she glided into the room that first day. At first glance I thought she was gonna be strict, but I was way wrong. She was fair to everyone in class.
That first day after I got home from school mom asked, “What do you think of your teacher?” I shrugged my shoulders, “She has big eyes and smells like perfume”.
It was still the early part of the year and Mrs.Medlock had divided the class into three reading groups: The Bluebirds, the Yellowbirds and the Redbirds. We weren’t asked which one we wanted to be in. I ended up in my least favorite, the Redbirds.
I couldn’t believe it. No way could I tell anyone at home about it – my older sisters would disown me.
You see, Gloria and Vicky attended Bowie High School, one of the oldest institutions in El Paso and the pride of hundreds of families. My sisters were very proud of the school and its blue and white colors.
They never missed a pep rally or football game and were always involved in extra-curricular activities. My sisters’ room was decorated with Bowie’s stickers and pennant flags. Even their curtains were blue.
The colors influenced me significantly. Their book covers displayed the bear mascot and on weekends my sisters dressed in white buttoned cotton blouses, blue capri jeans and white sneakers.
Bowie’s crosstown rivals were the Jefferson Foxes and their colors are … red and white. Hence my gripe about being placed in the Redbird reading group.
So what was I doing in the Redbirds group? My sisters would be so ashamed if they knew. I felt like a fox in a bear trap. “Oh teacher…..I want out” I wanted to say. After a couple weeks of passing the reading tests, I made the Yellowbird group. I felt a little better. We sat in a circle and as I looked over my fellow birds my mind and focus jumped to attention when Mrs. Medlock joined us.
One morning it was Irma’s turn to read aloud. A pleasantly-plump girl, Irma had curly black hair that she wore back above her forehead. On class picture day – her eyes were closed.
So Irma started reading and, whoa … you’d think it was a speed-reading contest. She never took a breath and the words sounded like a recording on fast forward. My heart was racing just listening to her. I’m surprised smoke wasn’t coming out of her ears. I needed a drink of water after that. Our teacher waited patiently until Irma ended finished.
Mrs. Medlock addressed her in a very caring tone, and reminded all of us to pause after periods and take time pronouncing the words. Irma looked down with a half smile. Nerves, I guess.
Back in the classroom, Mrs. Medlock continued her encouragement.
She waved and gestured as she read to us, turned to make eye contact with everyone as she wrote on the blackboard and did it all with great conviction and charm. I was picking up on her teaching methods, nailing the tests as they came.
Others were too. Some rockets were flying ahead … leaving the others behind as they scattered forward across space.
Ahead of the rest were two spaceships, neck and neck, passing planets and stars past the midpoint of the race, edging closer to the finish line. It was the quiet Maria and me.
I guess many of us were quiet then….lets call her Maria Smarty-Pants.
I was confident and feeling pretty good about what had become a tight race. One morning, our teacher made an announcement, “Class, we seem to have the makings of a close race”, and we all smiled at how this game had developed.
She continued ”How many think Maria is going to win?” All the girls screamed loudly.
She waited for the miniature hysterics to die down. “How many think Jose is going to win?” The boys tried to yell as loud. Some looked over at me and all I could do was smile.
A buddy got up from his desk, walked over and patted me on the shoulder “You’re gonna win, Jose”, and more hollering came from the boys.
Mrs. Medlock smiled at everyone’s enthusiasm, “Okay. This Friday is the last test, so we’ll soon find out!” This time the class gave a unified cheer. Our very bright and crafty teacher had created a jubilant learning atmosphere. She had single-handedly inspired us to compete positively. I was really impressed.
The following Monday morning came and a bunch of kids had gathered at the bulletin board. I walked in and took my seat. Maria was being congratulated by the girls. A couple friends came over and said “sorry” to me.
I was okay about it. Really. I had come down with a stomach flu that had kept me home on test day and back then there weren’t any re-takes. Nevertheless, it was a close race. Maria and I left everyone else behind by an extremely large margin. I didn’t mind her winning after all that.
But I did regret something.
After that school year I should have thanked our dear Mrs. Medlock. I should have told her what an amazing teacher she was. Inspiring, excellent teaching skills and very clever ideas. Space Race aside, she was one of my best teachers at Burleson.
Staff Report August 15, 2016NewsComments Off on El Paso ISD Schools meet State Accountability Standards
The six EPISD campuses that received Improvement Required last year are now rated as Met Standard in the 2016 Accountability Ratings released by the Texas Education Agency Monday.
The six schools that improved their rating from Improvement Required to Met standard are Guillen and Terrace Hills middle schools as well as Burnet, Rusk, Schuster and Stanton elementary schools.
Ratings show all but two El Paso Independent School District campuses received the Met Standard rating – the highest given by the TEA – based on testing scores and other guidelines.
EPISD plans to appeal the rating of Bowie High School and the College, Career and Technology Academy based on an internal review that seems to indicate that both schools could have earned a higher rating than they received.
“Our students keep showing improvement thanks to the high-quality teaching that is happening throughout EPISD. Nowhere is it more apparent than in those six schools that improved their ratings this year,” Superintendent Juan Cabrera said. “We also continue work the data we were provided to make sure that our schools receive the rating they deserve given their hard work and their results.”
A review of figures for Bowie and CCTA indicate that the test results for both schools were close to the Met Standard level. The District is therefore asking the state to re-assess the ratings for both campuses.
Ivonne Durant, EPISD’s deputy superintendent for academics and school leadership, said there’s reason to believe both Bowie and CCTA earned high-enough scores to be rated Met Standards, and hopes the state review of both campuses will mean a reverse of their current rating.
“EPISD has adopted several new initiatives that look to challenge students to learn in ways that are challenging and forward thinking. Those initiatives already have created better learning environments,” Durant said. “Our desire in filing this appeal for Bowie and CCTA is to accurately reflect student performance in those two campuses.”
Bowie High School has a strong presence throughout the Southwest, thanks in part of its history and alumni. Now, a group of current students will take a little piece of the South Side school to outer space.
The Museum of Science Fiction CubeSat Competition, in partnership with NASA and Cornell University, named Bowie High School, along with entries from Ithaca, N.Y., and Suzhou, China, winners.
“It feels very exciting because it’s not just local or even national — it’s international, so it fills you with pride knowing you are a part of that,” Bowie student Zahit Porras said.
Porras, along with several other Robotics Club members, entered the competition after learning about it on a field trip to the University of Texas at El Paso.
The team collaborated with the university to come up with the design, working closely with professors and engineering students from the Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research (CSetr) center.
The students worked with CSetr a few days a week since March to come up their design and proposal.
“We provided guidance and expert advice for the students. They are the ones doing everything,” CSetr research engineer Mike Everett said. “They were able to figure out a lot of it on their own. We just provided direction. They have learned a lot about the design process.”
At first the students didn’t realize the magnitude of the competition until they saw their school’s name alongside a team’s name from China.
“That’s when it hit them. When they saw they were listed among those other schools,” team sponsor Leticia Vasquez Loya said. “They are proud of their accomplishments. For them, it’s huge. Now they are like, ‘What can I do in engineering.'”
The UTEP and Bowie team will be awarded $10,000 toward the completion of a CubeSat — a grapefruit-sized satellite designed to perform a specific task while in orbit around the Earth. Their device will be launched into space upon completion.
These satellites usually collect data or take photos while in orbit. The Bowie and UTEP team’s CubeSat will send a manufacturing robot into space to perform basic tasks and to send data back to Earth in order to provide insight to other engineers, scientists and future researchers.
“These designs were selected based on a combination of innovation, technical feasibility, and successful articulation of a concept from science fiction,” said Mason Peck, member of the museum’s board of advisors and director of Cornell University’s Space Systems Design Studio. “I want to congratulate these young minds who displayed a mature and professional degree of technological acumen with their proposals. I’m eager to see their designs go from the drawing board to reality and up into orbit.”
Bowie student Leslie Llamas is also excited to see their design go into space. Being part of the Robotics Club and participating in the competition has cemented her decision to study engineering.
“I want to be a mechanical engineer. I hope to study at UTEP,” Llamas said.
She also hopes this competition inspires other high school girls to consider engineering as a career choice.
“I would tell other girls not to be timid and be brave if they are interested in engineering because this has been a wonderful experience,” Llamas said. “I am proud of the work we have done. It’s something very worthwhile.”
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.”
The sounds of “Besame Mucho” fill Bowie High School teacher Darrel Downey’s classroom minutes before the bell rings for his next class.
A handful of students on strings and a squeeze box kept the melody going as students wandered in for their next class.
Most of the students were among the 16 Bowie mariachis who travelled last week to San Antonio for the first UIL Mariachi State Festival – an experience that further united them and gave them their first-ever plane ride.
“It was a tremendous honor for us,” Downey said. “The judges loved our singers and trumpet player. They fell in love with everything.”
The young group, which was only re-launched two and a half years ago, felt a sense of pride and achievement with their Division II rating.
“We had a good response from the crowd,” Downey said. “They were saying ‘otra, otra’ (encore, encore) but we were only allowed to do 10 minutes.”
For the students, the trip outside of El Paso – hotel stay, airplane, hospitality, a visit to the Alamo and the Riverwalk – made the competition extraordinarily special.
“It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had,” senior Aurora Guerrero said. “It was my first time in an airplane. It was scary but cool to be in airplane.”
Coming from a family of singers, the mariachi tradition is in Guerrero’s blood. She joined the Osos Orgullosos to keep the mariachi tradition and culture alive.
“I feel a lot of emotions when I sing,” she said. “When you talk, it’s not the same. You get all your emotions out when you sing.”
Senior Victorio Tecomahua enjoyed the entire trip but knows the learning experience will take him and his fellow mariachis to the next level.
“We learned so much at the competition,” he said. “It taught us how we can improve.”
Tecomahua wasn’t initially drawn to mariachi music. As a guitar player, he was invited to play but he didn’t like the music.
“Then I started feeling the music and I started liking it,” said Tecomahua, who is also an apprentice for the Paso del Norte Mariachis. “Our group is so unique. We help each other. We’re more than a group, we’re like a family.”
Junior Emily Sosa also loves their bond and the music they make together. The violinist and first year mariachi got involved to carry on a family tradition started by her mother, a singer.
“What I notice most is when we play the music, we are playing from the heart,” she said. “You have to feel the music, the notes, everything.”
It was the moment when the basketball team went undefeated and became part of local history; It was that moment when a child of the Segundo Barrio sprinted toward the finish line at state; It was the moment when the football team’s win streak became a story to tell for generations to come.
These were the moments when an ordinary day, became a glorious one.
On Saturday, October 24th, former athletes of Bowie High School reminisced about their glory days on the track, on the football field and on the basketball courts during the first-ever Memory Lane Committee’s Bowie Bear Day event. About 350 people, including alumni, former athletes and their families, attended the event at the small gym at Bowie High School.
Among the many athletes that were honored was distinguished Hall of Famer and Coach Nolan Richardson and former track athlete Alberto Estrada, who had waited more than 60 years to receive recognition for his accomplishments in track and field.
According to Bowie Bear Juan De Santiago, who founded the Memory Lane Committee, the newly formed committee of Bowie High School alumni is dedicated to honoring former students who may not have gained the recognition they deserved.
Through networking and several phone calls members were able to track down former athletes who did not receive their District or State awards honors.
Athletes were honored with rings, medallions or a presentation of a plaque.
Richardson, De Santiago’s basketball coach, was honored for being named a 1958 All State Football and basketball player and for coaching
the 1974-1975 basketball teams that were the undefeated champions under his leadership. Even with his many accolades, Richardson said that coming home every year to Bowie High School was always a great honor.
This year – was especially a privilege he said.
“Three days ago, I was in the hospital not thinking I’d make it,” Richardson said. “But the good Man upstairs has been so good to me and blessed me in so many ways…they thought I had pneumonia.” He said.
A couple days after being admitted into the hospital Richardson was released.
“They were able to release me so I could come and see my family,” he said looking out at the crowd of 350, a good number of them Bowie Bears. Richardson is widely known as the only coach to win a junior college, National Invitation Tournament and NCAA championship for Texas Western College in 1980, the University of Tulsa in 1981, and the University of Arkansas in 1994, respectively.
In Arkansas he was recognized for being the first African American coach at a major university in the south, according to the Texas Hall of Fame, where Richardson was inducted in April 2015 – after being inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008; and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.
But on Saturday, Richardson, surrounded by his former athletes and their families, only had a handful of memories in mind – the successes and laughs he shared on the court with his former students.
“Melvin (Patridge) and I were talking a few minutes ago – and he missed a shot that could’ve won us the game,” Richardson said. “We could have been at the state championship game had he made the shot. He said, ‘I dream of it every night.’ And I said, hell I dream of it twice a night.”
Patridge later clarified that the shot had gone in, but the ball had spun inside the rim before coming out.
Other notable athletes were recognized as well including 1949 All State Champion Alberto Estrada. For Estrada it was a recognition that he had long awaited. Estrada, a distance runner for the track team, won the 1949 State Championship for the 1600, or the mile-run.
Estrada, who joined the team his sophomore year, said he had waited 66 years for his recognition.
“I wanted to make the team to letter,” he said. “My ticket behind it was – I wanted to get a scholarship to go to school, because I was an orphan.”
Not knowing what event he was meant to run, he sought the advice from the team captain who said he didn’t have speed, but he had endurance and with that he began training to become a distance runner.
In 1949, Bowie High School was located at what is now known as Guillen Middle School on 900 South Cotton Street, and it was a different world.
“We ran on the grass with the maranos (pigs) and the horses and cows,” Estrada joked. “We had a beautiful running track.” As Estrada continued to reminisce, he began to get choked up and a bit teary eyed.
“It’s been a great experience being at Bowie because the people are all family,” he said.
Memory Lane Committee member Federico Castillo said the success of the event largely depended on networking, support from donors
and gaining a principal for the school. About $5,000 was raised for the event. Tickets for the event were $7 each.
“We’ve been wanting to do this for a couple years now,” Castillo said. “But we weren’t able to do so because we didn’t have a principal at Bowie until this year.”
Following the EPISD cheating scandal that unfolded in 2012, with Bowie High School at the center stage, several administrators including principal Jesus Chavez, resigned, retired or were fired for their part in the scheme, which sought to cheat federal accountability measures.
Without Teran and several other administrators the high school was without an administrative leader. Then in 2013 the district hired Jesse Teran, as their principal, but Teran left for another opportunity with the Socorro Independent School District in August 2014.
Finally in March 2015, the district hired Michael Warmack, according to the El Paso ISD’s website. Warmack said he was proud to be part of the tradition at Bowie High School and hoped the Memory Lane Committee could continue honoring former students.
“You know we’re all about the students, but when you bring in people like this you bring in a lot of good role models,” Warmack said. “They not only help out the students but they can help out the other clubs as well. They set a great example for the students.”
List of Honorees:
Bowie High School All State, All City and All District Honors and Achievements:
Andy Morales, Baseball – All State 1949
Nolan Richardson, Basketball and Football – All State 1958
Jose De Santiago, Basketball – All State 1975
Andy Morales, Football – All State 1949
Benito Landin, Football – All State 1955
Manuel Ramos, Football – All State 1969
Ricky Tuda, Football – All State 2000
Hilario Tovar, Football – All District 1969 Record 13 Touchdowns.
1974-1975 Basketball Back to Back Undefeated Champions. “Uno, dos, tres the Bears are back.”
Head Coach Nolan Richardson. Assistant Coach Robert Gavette
Jose De Santiago
1972 Bowie Football Undefeated District Champions – 10 Straight wins
Head Coach Don Reider; Assistant Coach Fred Rosas; Assistant Coach Jesse Cordero.