LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — In North Las Vegas, Clark County School District students performed in a first-of-its-kind mariachi competition.

About 20 middle and high school mariachi programs took part in the inaugural event. Each was given three minutes to tune their instruments and 13 minutes to perform before a crowd at Craig Ranch Park.

“Marachi for me as a tapatia, well someone who was born in Guadalajara, is something really important to my culture. So that’s why I first started to love mariachi,” Angela Gonzales, an eighth grader at Bailey Middle School, said.

Bailey Middle School’s mariachi group was among the first to hit the stage on Saturday.

For those who are unfamiliar with mariachi, the genre of music dates to at least the 18th century. An ensemble consists of musicians playing violins, trumpets, and guitars.

“I chose the violin because a few years ago my sister had a friend in Mariachi Arrendajo Azul, that played violin and I said I wanted to be up there one day, and now I’m here,” Bailey eighth grader Jayna Guardado said. Mariachi Arrendajo Azul is the name of Bailey Middle School’s group.

Student performers also wore what’s called a Charro, traditional clothing that serves to help them gain a deeper understanding of their Mexican culture.

“I enjoy the culture way more than I did before, because I know how hard the people used to work for it,” Valeria Nagana, an eighth grader at J.D. Smith Middle School, said.

These students spend hours practicing before they go on stage, learning life skills that stretch beyond music.

“When you practice every day. When you tell them to show up on time. Tell them to be well dressed. Make sure you comb your hair. You’re teaching professionalism,” Oscar Rivera, a teacher at Bailey Middle School, said.

Five judges who traveled from across the county will pick the top mariachi performances, awarding them cash prizes.

The City of North Las Vegas organized the competition, hoping to keep students engaged while recognizing its large Hispanic population.

“Sometimes we’re projected as negative individuals in the community,” Serafin Calvo, director of community services and engagement for North Las Vegas said. “This showcases the beauty that we bring to the community. Everybody understands what music is, it’s an international language.”

Calvo said he hopes by hosting this event other schools in Clark County will adopt mariachi programs in their curriculum.

The overall high school grand champion was Del Sol High School winning a $1000 prize. The overall middle school champion was Monaco Middle School which also won a $1000 prize.