San Benito Principal Helps Girls Celebrate Quinceañera

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SAN BENITO – A San Benito school principal is helping dozens of teenagers celebrate the traditional quinceañera.

Gilbert Galvan, principal at San Benito Veterans Memorial Academy, the district’s ninth grade school, gives credit to his staff in making the celebration happen.

The community and school coordinator, Irma Galvan, helps collect the gowns.

“We started off one year with 10, then 31, now 40. So we’re hoping for 100 quinceañeras next year,” Gilbert Galvan said. “It’s el año de la quinceañeras, the year of the 15th birthday party. And we do it as a community event to honor all those girls.”

This year was the third year the school hosted the quinceañera party. There are sponsors for many aspects of the celebration.

The dresses are either donated or on loan. A city cleaner prepares the dresses, the band is made up of fellow students and there is a light meal.

The traditional father and daughter dance is a part of the celebration.

“We start at the beginning of the year. I start with a list. All the girls that want to participate. And as soon as I get the list I start working on the dresses,” Irma Galvan said.

“I’ve been wanting to have one since I was small, because I saw all the girls wearing theirs and everything, “ Marlen de la Cruz said.

“Oh my gosh! Thank you so much. I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to have a quinceañera without this,” Maria Benavides said.

“I’m very thankful that I can have a quinceañera because I always wanted one since I was small,” Michelle Sanchez said.

Parent Victoria Barriento said she still owns her dress. “It’s just beautiful what Mr. Galvan is doing for the young ladies,” she said.

However, Galvan always makes a point to instill how important schooling is especially college.

He has each graduating class sign a giant banner. “Every year, I remind them when we go to the graduations, college, college, college,” he said.

The quinceañera, he said, is to not only remind them of their culture and traditions but to also motivate them about school.

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