It was a celebration of family and remembrance at Edison Intermediate School on Nov. 2, as students in grades 6-8 and their world language teachers marked Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, creating a Hallway of Memories with colorful and meaningful displays.
“Day of the Dead is a holiday born from ancient traditions in Mexico when people remember and celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed on,” said world language teachers Tara McMahon and Mercedes Poyntz who coordinated the event with fellow Spanish teachers Rebecca Bodajlo, Lisa DeSousa, Cecillia Lopac, Jillian Martinez, and art teachers Daniel Black and Helen Frees. “While the objectives of the unit vary between grade level, the overarching theme is identifying the cultural significance and traditions of this holiday as we compare and contrast them with our own.”
McMahon said, as part of the Spanish unit, sixth and seventh grade students focused on imagery and symbolism while 8th graders blended the traditions of the holiday with their own to honor someone who has passed. Some students celebrated the life of a pet or a well-known person while others chose to honor a family member who had died.
“The students are excited about it. They were able to talk to their parents about their ancestors, who they were and how that translates to one's identity,” Poyntz said.
Students also created authentic artifacts in art classes to adorn the Hallway of Memories. And, while the Dia de los Muertos celebration in the intermediate schools is in its 15th year, Poyntz and McMahon said this is the first time families were invited to “see the products of the students’ hard work as we celebrate a holiday that carries the timeless message of love, respect, and the value of remembering.”