Students at Clawson Elementary on Seventh Street are remembering loved ones who have passed as part of Dia de los Muertos, also known as the Day of the Dead.
Tributes have been placed throughout the school and will remain on display all this week honoring the Day of the Dead. One specific tribute is for Clawson staff members who have lost family members. Other displays have not only family members, but also beloved pets that have passed on.
Cenia Roman, the parent liaison at Clawson, placed some fig cookies and a small jar of coffee next to a picture of her uncle, grandma and aunt.
“My uncle passed away in June this past summer and my grandma passed away five years ago on Christmas Eve,” she said. “I think this is such a great idea. This is the first time I do this. I know it’s tradition. It makes you feel really special. I was glad I was able to offer something to the family members that I have lost.”
Linda Hurtado, a second grader at Clawson, recently lost her cat she called “Kitty Cat”. In her memory, Hurtado brought a can of tuna and placed it next to a picture of her cat. Hurtado said Kitty Cat liked tuna and she misses her.
Corinna Moen, principal at Clawson said, because Douglas is so close to the border, she has wanted to do a Day of the Dead celebration.
“This is so much of our history and culture,” she said. “Many of our students don’t know the meaning behind it.”
According to history, Dia de los Muertos is a holiday celebrated on November 1. Although marked throughout Latin America, Dia de los Muertos is most strongly associated with Mexico, where the tradition originated.
Dia de los Muertos honors those who have passed with festivals and lively celebrations. It celebrates the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties, and activities the dead enjoyed in life. Dia de los Muertos recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience, a continuum with birth, childhood, and growing up to become a contributing member of the community. History shows that on Dia de los Muertos, the dead are also a part of the community, awakened from their eternal sleep to share celebrations with their loved ones.
Moen had all her teachers do a lesson this past week on the history and significance of the Day of the Dead. Part of that was creating the altars to the loved ones they have lost.
“We are doing a series with our students this year called ‘Traditions through Families’,” she said. “In September we had traditions through stories and the students shared stories with their students and their child. This is our ‘Traditions through Memories’ where they are remembering people they’ve lost. Every student has a little skull and a picture and they tell a story about them. Many of our students don’t realize this is part of their culture so I wanted to bring it to the forefront. There’s not just Halloween but also this amazing day that we remember our family members.”
Moen said she was impressed by the displays that were created by the students and their teachers.
Carolyn Celaya, who works in the main office and was all decked out for the celebration, said she was moved by what she saw from the students.
“It makes you want to cry,” she said. “They really got into it.”
Parents are invited to stop by the school this week and see the Day of the Dead tributes.