Spanish, art classes celebrate Day of the Dead


photo by Levi Cal Rivera

Students from Spanish teacher Patricia Lopez’s Spanish III class and art teacher Omar Otero class join together to create sugar skulls to learn more about Day of the Dead.

Painted skulls, Spanish word searches, and, of course, food.

Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2 that celebrates loved ones that have passed. Families honor their lives with altars or ofrendas that serve as a gateway between the souls of those that have passed and their families, allowing the souls to be with them. In other places, people gather at the cemeteries where the deceased were buried to eat and enjoy their time together.

Inspired to indulge her students in the culture, honors and AP Spanish teacher Patricia Lopez teamed up with art teacher Omar Otero to bring a more creative feel to the Spanish III class. Together, the classes worked to create sugar skulls, which will be a part of a later assignment. 

Otero gained the inspiration for his lessons from past experiences. Having been to the Day of the Dead celebration in Guatemala, he gained interest in the subject.

“We decided to combine our two classes, and I would have my class help them and they kind of all work together,” said Otero. “I came up with a kind of a formula, which started with basic shapes and [since I’ve] been doing that, like I’ve gotten a lot more product out of students.”

Planning lessons for an event that comes around once a year, Lopez created that fit students’ different levels of knowledge.

“I basically look for something with their level of understanding and their ability level [because] I don’t know where they’re coming from in Spanish I,” Lopez said.

In her Spanish II class, students watched an informational video, colored sugar skulls and completed word searches. In the AP Spanish class, students wrote Calaveritas, which are humorous poems that talk about brief brushes with death.

Students in Spanish classes like junior Sebastian Suprenant are becoming more aware of what the holiday is like and the events that it entails.

“I [know that it is]  a celebration of life more than death and one way they celebrate is through poems,” Suprenant said.

To Lopez, the holiday is about more than just the decorations. It has a deeper meaning and sense. 

“I think that people need to [learn] about Day of the Dead. Because we’re a world of diverse cultures, it’s important to understand the culture around you,” Lopez said.