EAST LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The mariachi group at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles helped kick off Hispanic Heritage Month with an early morning performance Friday before the start of school.
"It makes me proud because it connects me culturally to my heritage and it's like, even though we weren't originally from Mexico, we still have roots from there. It allows me to give me voice and connect to my heritage as well," said Esteban Gonzalez, whose dad is the mariachi instructor who also played mariachi back when he went to this high school.
For many of these students, the music is a major part of their heritage -- something they love sharing with others.
"And it just gets everyone going, so it's like if you want to listen to a song, listen to that piece of the song, it gives you the emotion of enjoyment," said student Ashley Granados.
For interim superintendent Megan Reilly, it was an opportunity to embrace the district's Hispanic population -- a strong 75%.
"Los Angeles is a beautiful, diverse community, and only through the celebrations of that and respect and empathy towards that, the history that it brings to us, we make ourselves stronger," said Reilly.
In the Los Angeles Unified School district alone, there are more than 25 mariachi groups - something these young musicians take pride in every time they take the stage.
"Wearing my mariachi traje, it's like wearing a super suit. It feels like I'm a whole other person but I'm the same person, my heritage, my culture, it's the same thing to me but it gives me more pride," Granados said.
"It makes me proud because usually we dont have that much student participation with us, and it's just amazing to see, especially back from COVID," said Gonzalez.
This performance also coincides with Mexican Independence Day this week. More Hispanic Heritage events will be held across the district this month.