Local principal featured in national documentary for hosting quinceañera

SAN BENITO, Texas (KGBT) — A local principal has gained national attention and has won the hearts of thousands after vowing to pay for his students’ quinceañera, if they can’t afford to have one.

Hollywood directors took notice of the San Benito principal and now they’re putting his story on the big screen.

It started almost seven years ago when Mr. Gilbert Galvan because the principal at Veterans Memorial Academy in San Benito.

Just months on the job and Galvan quickly noticed running a freshman campus means lots and lots of quinceañeras!

“That day I got three or five invitations in one day and I saw some girls staring and I said, ‘what’s wrong, mija?’ And I remember one of them said, ‘We can’t afford it,'” said Galvan, “I said you know what, if you want one, I’ll throw one for you!”

And the rest is history!

One year into the job and he already committed to getting funds raised and donations stacked for eight of his students to have a joint quinceañera!

“We started a dress campaign to get dresses for our girls. We have others who wear them once and then I got a sponsor for dry cleaners and just like that boom, we got them their dress, tiaras. I call the cosmetology classes to come and do their makeup,” said Galvan.

It’s a Greyhound affair for sure, even the school band plays at the quinceañeras, along with a professional band as well.

Galvan and his staff at the VMA say every year the list to apply for the joint quinceañera gets bigger and bigger.

At one point, they even had 80 girls at one party!

“You should see their faces and the parents are so grateful to the district, because we allow them to do this and there dream comes true that night, it’s beautiful,” said Galvan with a smile on his face.

One of those girls is Melisa Sanchez.

“I was excited, it’s like nothing I had ever experienced before,” said Sanchez, who couldn’t stop smiling when remembering her party.

Sanchez was one of the eight girls featured in the award-winning documentary, “Our Quinceañera,” produced and directed by Fanny and Nelson Grande.

Sanchez says her family didn’t have enough money to put together a quinceañera and when Mr. Galvan found out about it, he said he would make sure her special night happened, no matter what the financial cost was.

“Without him, no, I don’t think so, no, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have a quinceañera,” said Sanchez.

When producer and director duo, husband and wife Fanny and Nelson Grande heard about the principal, they knew they wanted to make the story hit the big screens.

And they did.

They entered the Bentonville Film Festival Awards and won with the feature documentary showcasing the local principal who has made waves across the RGV.

“I still cry every time I see it. You would think that after the 15th time, it would wear off but it doesn’t. It’s really moving it really is, it’s special, so we’re really proud of it for sure,” said Nelson Grande.

As for Mr. Galvan, he says he’s not slowing down for the parties in San Benito anytime soon.

“I’m so proud of my community for supporting us in this and I hope other schools also pick this up. I love the RGV, this is what we’re about,” said Galvan.

A showing of the documentary is coming to South Padre Island on November 23 and November 24.