Mariachi Panteras, Paschal High School’s mariachi band, has grown to about 35 students this year Paschal music teacher Kristi Tollefson, said.

The band is one of four high school mariachi bands in the Fort Worth Independent School District.

Since Tollefson started the band four years ago, it has grown from 12 to about 35 students. Now the program includes two different groups based on experience level she said.

Last year, the school added a mariachi class as an elective, in addition to the group that met after school. In one year, the class has grown from two students to 15 students. She said having the class has allowed her to spend more time teaching the fundamentals of mariachi music.

“We get to work on the strumming patterns and do a little bit more theory and in depth study of the pieces,” she said.

Besides getting new members this year, the band added instruments, more songs and even bought costumes for performances out in the community, Tollefson said.

She said she hoped the growth of Mariachi Panteras does not just stop at new costumes and classes. She believed the mariachi band served as a great outlet to reach out to every student who wants to become involved in music.

“It’s contagious. Once you hear it and play it you want to keep doing it,” she said.