Valley Stream, NY (November 2021)—El Día de Los Muertos (English translation – Day of the Dead) is a culturally rich tradition native to Latin cultures and is celebrated annually around the world. Ms. Marisa Díaz y Díaz, Valley Stream Central High School’s World Language teacher, brought that celebration to students with the planning of a festive celebration inside and outside the classroom that commemorated El Día de Los Muertos on Monday, November 1.
As is tradition when celebrating the holiday, Ms. Díaz y Díaz set up a beautiful altar covered in vibrantly colored flowers and candles. The altar was also adorned with pictures of loved ones who have passed away. Some of the more recognizable items placed on the altar included several skeleton statues in honor of Frida Kahlo, a famous Mexican painter. Traditional papel picado (paper banners) lined the hallways and bulletin boards featured different calaveras (skull images) by Mexican artist, José Guadalupe Posada.
“This was truly an immersive experience for our students,” said Dr. Joseph Pompilio, Principal of Valley Stream Central High School. “I’d like to give a special thank you to Ms. Díaz y Díaz. This would not have been possible without her preparation, help and knowledge about El Día de Los Muertos.”
A large banner of dancing skeletons was placed at the end of the main hallway and served as a backdrop for students to take photos to commemorate the day’s celebrations. World Language teachers wore intricately designed shirts to add to the festivities. Ms. Díaz y Díaz provided language classes with video links about El Día de Los Muertos, which included the wonderful displays located at Rockefeller Center.
In Spanish AP Language and Culture classes, students completed a cultural comparison of El Día de Los Muertos and Halloween. Students researched how El Día de Los Muertos is observed in Ecuador, Mexico and Perú and then learned about the Celtic and British origins and current practices of Halloween in the United States to compare and contrast the role of both celebrations.
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