Vela Jazz Band is recognized as a national winner

The Vela Middle School Jazz I band, directed by Erika R. Uribe, has been selected as a National Winner in the Mark of Excellence/ National Jazz Honors Project.

“The Foundation for Music Education has this event called the Mark of Excellence where they find the best of the best music programs in the United States of America,” HCISD Director of Music Programs Ronnie Rios said. “Our jazz ensemble at Vela Middle School entered and was chosen by the Foundation for Music Education in the Jazz Honors Project as the National Champion in the United States.” 

The Mark of Excellence/ National Jazz Honors Project is a competition, entered by recordings, in which the top quarter are selected as National Winners and the second quarter receive Commended Honors. Over the last 13 years, the project has received entries from 38 states.

“I want to thank Ms. Uribe for all the work that she’s done; she definitely has put Vela Middle School on the map,” Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos said. “To be recognized nationally is not an easy task. I want to thank her for celebrating the importance of the arts. Music is a skill that kids can take with them for the rest of their lives.”

In a school year cut short by the COVID-19 virus, many performances, contests, and recording opportunities were canceled, but not this one. One hundred and forty-five of the finest high school and middle school ensembles in the United States entered the project this year. 

“We are ecstatic for our students, our program, Vela Middle School, and HCISD,” said Vela Jazz Director Erika Uribe, “Our students have put in hundreds of hours of work before, during, and after school to achieve this national recognition. Hard work and a willingness to be coached produces outstanding performances and creates lifetime memories.”

All groups will receive recorded and written comments from the adjudicators. A compilation recording of the National Winners’ performances is also featured on, creating a permanent archive of the achievement.

“We would like to extend our gratitude and heartfelt thanks to our students and parents for everything they have given to this endeavor,” said Uribe. “Thank you, Vela Middle School for supporting your band. Thank you to Dr. Cavazos, HCISD Administration, the HCISD Music Department, and the HCISD Board of Trustees for allowing the arts to flourish in Harlingen. Thank you to the 2018-2019 Vela Jazz I members for starting this journey from state recognition to national recognition to international recognition. Vela Jazz I is proud to represent the name of Judge Moises V. Vela, wife Mary Jo, and the extended Vela family as we perform across Texas and beyond.”






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