MILLBURN, NJ - Over the years, the Mexican Celebration of the Day of the Dead-Día de los Muertos- has become almost as popular in the Millburn Middle School as it is in México, thanks to the guidance and teaching of the Spanish teachers, María Deraville, Angela Plumacker and Mae Ward.
Each year, the students research about the topic as part of their studies and the acquisition of the Spanish language.
In the process, students learned about the culture of México and the importance of this holiday to the Mexican people, a celebration that focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. After gathering the cultural information on this important Mexican tradition the students had the opportunity to participate in class discussions, contrast findings with their own traditions and cultural backgrounds, recreate an “altar” for the dead, understand the symbolism of the elements of fire, water, wind and earth to honor the dead, and compare the Mexican traditions and culture with other traditions and beliefs around the world, including their own.
Students were able to conclude awareness of the uniqueness of cultures to expand their knowledge and ability to understand and respect others while learning.
As one student said: “In Mrs Deraville’s classes we learned Spanish languages combined with social studies, math and other subjects while having fun and learning about how to speak and write in Spanish. Today, for example we finish our learning on Día de los Muertos. We ended it with a wonderful heart felt short clip about the beauty and magic of the Day of the Dead. The Ringling College of art and Design created the clip. It was filmed by Ashley Graham, Kate Reynolds, and Lindsey St. Pierre.
The very short clip showed what we learned, and how for the Mexicans as it was for the Aztecs originally, death is not the end of life. Death is the continuation of life.
The clip was very colorful, and funny. It showed also a lot of different emotions,
culture and traditions that help me understand the people who speaks the language that I am studying, and one day be able to communicate very well with not only Mexicans , but other people who speak Spanish.
I really enjoyed learning about the Day of the Dead in México and how bright and exciting the Spanish culture is…” Daisy Nashel.