For the last several years, Messalonskee Spanish teachers Eunice Loredo and Karalynn Gibson have brought their classes to the University of Maine for their annual El Día de los Muertos presentation at the Hudson Museum. This year, they decided to host the presentation at MHS for the first time.
On Friday, November 2nd, Spanish students from Waterville, Lawrence and Medomak Valley High schools came to Messalonskee for a one-hour presentation on the celebration of El Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. The presentation, led by Senora Loredo, was done in English and addressed the World Language standard of connections with history, cultures, and comparison. Senora Loredo told stories of her personal experience with the celebration growing up in Mexico. Students in attendance got to see a traditional El Dia de los Muertos display and taste foods connected with the celebration.
Though the presentation was moved to Messalonskee in part to save travel costs, hosting the presentation provided MHS students with the opportunity to be more involved with the celebration. “The Dia de Muertos event has various levels of exploring cultural practices and products,” said Senora Loredo. “Beginning classes attend the lecture to learn about the traditions. Then when the lecture is over my Spanish 3 students are actually honoring the dead.”
Each Spanish 3 student played a role in designing and building the Dia de los Muertos altar. The traditional altar decorations included sugar skulls, paper flowers, marigolds, candles, and traditional foods, all brought in or made by the class. Each student also chose a person to honor, whether it was a family or community member, or a famous Hispanic person.
“I think the Día de los Muertos event was a really neat experience that gave me the opportunity to learn more about the Spanish culture and how they commemorate their ancestors,” said one Spanish 3 student. “I’m glad that Messalonskee was able to host this event and would love to do it again for the other schools.”
Senora Loredo sees this as the beginning of a new tradition at MHS and looks forward to hosting the event again next year. There’s even talk of collaborating with the Music and Art departments. “Music Students could play songs related to this holiday and Art students could help with the artifacts for the decorations so it could be a multidisciplinary project,” said Senora Loredo. “I am very excited already for the future events.”