While the name, “Day of the Dead” might sound a little somber to the uninformed, this 3,000 year-old cultural tradition is the complete opposite of fearful or depressing.
For the second year in a row, the Amig@s Club of Sugarloaf Elementary School is celebrating Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead as just one way to honor its multilingual families, promote cultural understanding, and embrace diversity at Sugarloaf, explained Evelyn Angeles-Alarcon, ESL Family Liaison and Migrant Education Program Liaison for Sugarloaf Elementary.
During contemporary celebrations, people leave offerings to loved ones no longer with them. One place to honor those lost is an ofrenda, where candles, marigolds and food are displayed. Other popular customs include music, dancing and parades. Skeletons and skulls are popular symbols and many even make sugar candy in skull shaped molds.
The Amig@s Club, along other students, staff and families were invited to contribute elements to the brightly colored ofrenda at Sugarloaf.
Inspired by Sugarloaf, Upward Elementary School is participating in its own Day of the Dead for the first time.
Both displays include photos of loved ones who have passed away as well as flowers, favorite fruits, or favorite candies of their dearly departed.
During the presentation of the ofrenda, students of the Amig@s Club explained each element, reading in both English and Spanish, while family members, teachers, principals, and guests from HCPS Central Office listened.
Afterwards, the Migrant Education Department and the ESL Department treated guests to authentic tamales.
The origin of Día de los Muertos rituals date back over 3,000 years to an area known as the pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.
Of the event at Sugarloaf, Fourth Grade teacher Jessica Taylor said, “It means so much to all of our students to see themselves represented in books we read, the stories we share and the activities we do.”
“I love the way the Amig@s have blossomed under Evelyn’s guidance and through the experiences she has afforded them,” she said.
Along with its ofrenda, Upward is planning several days of morning announcements where information about Dia de los Muertos’ and ofrendas is shared with the entire school, explained 3rd grade teacher Alex Ramirez. Teachers are also incorporating the event in the classroom by having students read aloud about the history and customs of the ancient tradition.