Spanish I celebrates Day of the Dead


Altars. Local students. Live performance. Celebration.

The Spanish 1 class taught by Spanish teacher Joanne Guillén went to the Oakland Museum of California on Oct. 26 to see the Day of the Dead performance and exhibit.

The field trip included a live performance with song and music, students from other schools, exhibits, altars, and art, Guillén said. Piedmont students were able to connect with students from nearby schools and viewed altars made by local schools such as Thornhill Elementary, Guillén said.

The performance and exhibit were in honor of the Day of the Dead, Día de los Muertos, a celebration that marks the return of the dead, Guillén said.

“People really believe that the dead come back, it’s a joyful celebration,” Guillén said.

Guillén teaches her Spanish 1 students about Día de los Muertos and celebrates the holiday with traditional Méxican food, such as pan de muerto and chocolate caliente, Guillén said.

“I would like to be able to feel, or at least understand how people can feel, like the dead are still with them,” freshman Owen Van Gelder said.

The Spanish 1 class ate lunch together between the performance and docent tour, which gave students an opportunity to bond more, Guillén said.

“After the field trip, there will be a greater sense of community,” Guillén said.

The field trip is difficult to coordinate because the tickets to the performance and exhibit sell out quickly, chaperones need to help drive, and there needs to be funding, Guillén said.

The field trip could help students learn the history of Día de los Muertos, how it is celebrated, and the culture around the celebration, freshman Jasmine Ghaderi said.

“It would be helpful for other classes to experience this field trip, but the limited amount of tickets should be considered,” Van Gelder said.

Outside of the field trip, Guillén has been working with the Piedmont community to celebrate the essence of the Day of the Dead.

“Art teacher Katherine Beckner and I have talked about building an altar for our community at the library [next year],” Guillén said.

Guillén and Beckner also discussed doing an interdisciplinary lesson, Guillén said.