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News from 2023-2024

Posted: December 7, 2023

East San Jose’s Gecko Folklorico Group Wows Audience

Students bring pride to community through their artistic expression in dance and music.

The FBI office in Albuquerque may not be a place you would expect to see an Albuquerque Public Schools elementary folklorico group perform, but to the delight of many, it happened. 

On a recent crisp fall day the East San Jose Elementary Gecko Folklorico group performed at the secure law enforcement center at the invitation of a bureau staffer. The students, representing kindergarten through fifth grade, lit up the room in their costumes of blue and gold as they masterfully sang and danced to a crowd of the Southwest’s most esteemed crime fighters.

East San Jose Elementary is a Title 1 Dual Language School where 94 percent of students are Hispanic. 

“Our folklorico group is a cultural representation of our community,” said Principal Eder Ortiz. “Through their artistic expressions in dance and music they bring pride to our community. Every dance represents a piece of our history, and sharing it with others like the FBI, helps us preserve and pass down our traditional art to younger generations.” 

All students who participate in the Gecko Folklorico club, along with the club’s teachers and sponsors, are dedicated to the craft, which requires a huge time commitment and a combination of physical coordination, discipline, creativity, and resources.

Ten years ago the Albuquerque Public Schools Education Foundation awarded East San Jose Elementary a $10,000 start-up grant. Over the past decade the club has grown in membership from 10 to 37 and now has a long waitlist. The students complete six-to-10 free performances annually for community groups like the FBI and nursing homes. Support from the district Fine Arts Department and the APS Education Foundation makes it all possible.

“The foundation recently approved another $10,000 for the East San Jose folklorico group because we recognize and appreciate everything the program brings to our community,” said Shannon Barnhill, the APS Education Foundation Executive Director. “The funding helps pay for the dance costumes, transportation to and from events, and this year will expand our students' experiences in cultural education when they attend the Mariachi Christmas at Popejoy Hall with their families.”

The positive impact a youth folklorico group has on its community is difficult to capture. The ear-to-ear smiles on students’ faces as they dance and sing together is magical. The traditions they pick up through hands-on, foot-tapping experiential learning is something they can carry with them for life.

Tags: Core Schools