The Pender High Afterschool program hosted a fantastic cultural info session to teach students about Dia De Los Muertos!

The holiday is celebrated from October 31 to November 2 and allows families to welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration.

Students could choose from a variety of creative projects to mark the holiday, decorating skull shaped sugar cookies, painting wood keepsakes, trying their hand at skeleton face painting while they enjoyed traditional snacks and drinks.

Afterschool assistant Verenice Sanchez also put together a stunning altar, complete with bright marigolds and candles to help guide the souls of the loved ones who have departed this earth. Its all a part of the tradition where people leave food or other offerings on graves, or set them out on makeshift altars called “ofrendas.”

Ms. Sanchez and Pender Student Support Specialist Mrs. McKoy included student voices, too as they built the altar, inviting students to bring a token or photo of their loved ones who have passed over.The final display included deceased parents, grandparents, friends, celebrities, and even beloved pets.

“Its emotional… these people are gone,” said CIS Student Support Specialist Michelle McKoy.”Some of these are student’s mothers and fathers. Some of the people on this altar were very young.”

At the end of the celebration, the room was quiet as students and staff lit the candles on the altar and listened to the song “Remember Me,” from Disney’s Coco. The room was dark except the glowing, yellow altar.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Ms. Sanchez with tears in her eyes, reflecting on sharing her cultural celebration with her afterschool students. “I love these kids so much.”

There were tears, but there was also rejoicing, and dancing as each person in the room remembered the people on the altar.

This afterschool lesson was undoubtably one many students will never forget.