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Westridge Celebrates Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with student-created ofrendas

On Tuesday, Westridge honored Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) through a variety of activities hosted across campus including creating altars and sharing Mexican sweet bread with the community. This holiday, celebrated predominantly in Mexico and Central America as well as many cities throughout the United States, is meant to honor loved ones who have passed away. Families will set up altares de muertos (altars) with ofrendas (offerings) generally consisting of the loved one's favorite food, items to represent them, marigolds, papel picado (elaborate designs cut into tissue paper), and more. Isabella V. '24, one of the Latine Affinity heads, said the tradition of Día de los Muertos is a way to honor her culture and roots.

"It's not a huge celebration in my family but it is something my mom has always taught me about," Isabella said. "We sometimes decorate calaveras (sugar skulls) or do something fun of sorts because it is meant to be a celebration."

For at least two decades, the entire Westridge community has shared pan de muerto. This year’s celebrations were hosted by the World Languages and Cultures department, various faculty members, and students from the Latine Affinity and Latine Alliance, said Upper School Spanish Teacher and Department Chair Vicki Garrett.

In the Main Hall, students in Upper School Spanish Teacher Bonnie Martinez's Spanish I class were busy putting together their altares de muertos. As they're currently learning about Mexico, students selected and researched famous Mexican figures who have passed away to create altars with appropriate offerings. They chose figures such as painter Frida Kahlo, singer-songwriter Juan Gabriel, singer Selena Quintanilla, and actress Naya Rivera. They also collaborated with the STEAMWork Design Studio and its coordinator, Mick Lorusso, to laser-cut traditional papel picado in the form of their chosen figure. Upper School Spanish Teacher Ryan Villaverde’s Spanish II students also wrote stories about their own loved ones and other important figures who have passed away to accompany the altar. Be sure to stop by the altars to read more about the figures students chose to research and honor!

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