Thursday, November 1st, a crowd of nearly 90 people came together at the high school for WCSD's first-ever Dia de los Muertos Celebration. Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the lives of friends and family members who have died. Students who are English language learners (ELLs) and ELL staff (Mrs. Barb Dunham and Mrs. Aracely Schlesing) planned and worked for weeks preparing for the first-ever event in Wapello. With nearly 10% of Wapello's student population being of Hispanic descent, the idea was enthusiastically embraced by both ELL students and their families. Attendees of the event were able to learn about the meaning of the special day as they walked the hallways, reading from display boards set up with pictures and captions that described different aspects of the holiday. A large altar was created in one classroom; a display board nearby identified the many different components of the altar, as well as explaining the symbolism and significance of each included artifact, including photographs, water, salt, flowers, marigolds, and much more. In another classroom, Mrs. Jeanna Gerot and some students from the Art Club guided students through making simple maracas and another craft called "El Ojo de Dios" (the Eye of God.)- The student lounge had been staged with skull-shaped sugar cookies; both, children and adults enjoyed decorating their own "sugar skull sugar cookies." In addition to the cookies, chocolate candies molded in the form of skulls had also been provided; many enjoyed trying their hand at decorating those, as well. In another part of the lounge, some clay sugar skull ornaments were just waiting for children to come and complete them with glitter and glue embellishments. Some children's books about the holiday were set around for young and old alike to peruse, and some paper-and-pencil games were also placed out for those who preferred a more intellectual challenge over the artistic endeavors. Just outside the student lounge, the music provided by the Wapello Mariachi band, organized and led by Mr. Micah Peck, brought joy and life to the event. Many onlookers stood lingering in the hall, smiles on their faces, as they enjoyed the festive sounds and songs played by the musicians sporting sombreros. After working up an appetite strolling through the halls, creating art, decorating cookies and candies, and looking at display tables, attendees ended the evening with a literal feast for both the eyes and the stomach in the FCS Kitchen/Classroom, where, along with a few ELL students, FCS instructor Mrs. Karen Mairet had been preparing food since soon after school was dismissed that afternoon. In addition to the foods prepared by instructor and students, over 18 families had sent in authentic Mexican dishes that were shared and enjoyed by all who attended. The tables were crowded but no one seemed to mind as they laughed and talked, visiting with old friends and making new ones. Both, children and adults were observed trying new food items for the very first time. It was a big undertaking, but when the event was over and it was time to tear everything down, everyone involved was in agreement: the grand experiment was a success. People came out, families came together, and community was built...one tamale at a time.
Dia De Los Muertos Celebration at Wapello
Barb Dunham (ELL Teacher)
Friday, November 09, 2018