This week my Spanish Literacy class has created an altar in the front hallway of our school to celebrate Dia de los Muertos They made tissue paper flowers, and strings of papel picado. We placed fruit and flowers, pan dulce and salt and water on the tables. Candles with little lcd lights flicker, it’s bright and colorful and the whole thing just draws people in. Parents stop to tell us how much they like it, or to offer suggestions. At every break the table is surrounded with kids writing notes, looking at the notes that have been left by others, and just chatting. They seem to feel so comfortable gathering around it to talk.
In the mornings the students read an announcement to the school telling what the altar is about, and inviting people to participate by bringing photos of loved ones who have passed on, or simply by writing their names on little pieces of paper and leaving them on the altar. So far we’ve had over 200 names, including Tupac and Marilyn Monroe posted to our altar wall. Grandparents, little baby sisters and brothers, parents and friends are remembered with love and R.I.P.s.
The first day it was up, someone took all the fruit that was in the basket. Coincidentally, that student was expelled the next day, in an incident that had nothing to do with taking the altar fruit. Since then no one has removed anything, and the collection of memorabilia grows daily. Next week we’ll take it down and it’ll be a fond memory until next year when we do it all again.