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Dual Language Students Celebrate Día de Muertos
Dual Language Students Celebrate Día de Muertos
Posted on 11/02/2020
A collage showing Ms. De la Rosa, Instructional Assistant Celia Ford, and their first-grade students at Oakley Elementary School.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

At Oakley Elementary School, Ms. Libia De la Rosa’s Dual Language Spanish Immersion first-graders learn to appreciate Latin American culture by engaging with it directly.

On Friday and again on Monday, her students celebrated Día de Muertos, a very important holiday in Mexico, Colombia and a few other Latin American countries. Ms. De la Rosa painted her students’ faces in traditional Catrina make-up and created an ofrenda at the back of the classroom with candles, marigold flowers, pan de muerto, and other traditional items. Students enthusiastically answered her questions about the differences and similarities between Día de Muertos and Halloween. For example, both holidays use skeletons and skulls in their imagery, but while Halloween skeletons are spooky, Día de Muertos "calaveras" are part of a joyful remembrance of the dead.

“We know that death is really sad, but we try to remember all of the dead in a happy way,” Ms. De la Rosa said. “It’s a transition from the painful to happiness.”

For the last two weeks, the children have been studying both holidays and discovering the unique traditions, history, and vocabulary associated with each. Ms. De la Rosa and Instructional Assistant Celia Ford used the holidays to introduce students to vocabulary words, social studies concepts, and science.

“The students are learning tolerance and respect for other cultures, where in the world these celebrations happen, and how to make things like pan de muerto,” she said. “Everything is involved in the process.”

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All six BCS districts have at least one elementary school with a Dual Language Spanish Immersion program. Participating students become bilingual and bi-literate. They have greater cultural fluency, are more prepared for a global society, and in many cases, perform better academically.

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