SPANISH STUDENTS HONOR HOLY CROSS BROTHERS WITH DAY OF THE DEAD ALTAR
Mrs. Lisa Hardin's Spanish 2 students created an altar honoring the late brothers of Holy Cross to celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a traditional Mexican holiday. The altar, referred to as an ofrenda in Spanish, featured Blessed Fr. Basil Moreau, C.S.C., St. Br. André Bessette, C.S.C., Br. Bennet Nettleton, C.S.C., Br. Leo Geiger, C.S.C., Br. Joseph Chvala, C.S.C., Br. Guy Eckels, C.S.C., and Br. James Everett, C.S.C. with photos and objects that honored their lives. Students were very thoughtful about what they placed next to each brother's photo. They included novels, pens and paper next to Br. Joseph's photo to honor him as a former English teacher at St. Ed's and placed gardening gloves and informational sheets on ADHD next to Br. James' photo to remember his love for keeping the St. Ed's grounds beautiful and his dedication to helping Edsmen with ADHD. They also added Br. Bennet's Crystal Apple Award for Teaching Excellence and, thanks to science teacher Mr. James Barnewall, a piece of Br. Guy's cactus plant that still remains here at St. Ed's.
Traditionally, ofrendas built for Dia de los Muertos must display an example of the four elements in addition to a dish of salt. It is believed that a dish of salt, which symbolizes the zest for life, and a glass of water are placed on the ofrenda so that when the dead return to earth, they'll have something to nourish themselves after their long journey. As for the other natural elements, students displayed candles to represent fire, plants and flowers to represent earth and papel picado (tiny, intricately cut pieces of paper that blow in the breeze) to represent wind. The timing of this holiday fell perfectly on Mrs. Hardin's scheduled lesson to teach the Spanish past tense. To connect their ofrenda to Mrs. Hardin's lesson, students made their own papel picado with written messages, using the Spanish past tense, about each of the brothers. To mimic how papel picado banners are hung in the streets of Mexico, students hung their own papel picado banner above the altar and across the windows of their classroom.
El Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of loved ones rather than a solemn memorial mainly because the Mexican culture believes that death is just the next phase of our overall existence. Therefore, skulls and skeletons aren't perceived as morbid, but rather as playful decoration to remember those who have passed. Students dressed skulls and skeletons as musicians, soldiers and even as a bride and groom that accompanied other figurines and decorations that Mrs. Hardin has collected over the years. Once the ofrenda was completed, students were also able to showcase their ofrenda to prospective students and families at last weekend's Open House. "Their ofrenda symbolized St. Ed's connection to the history of the brothers of Holy Cross. At the Open House, the students' ofrenda provided a chance for our alums to reconnect with the brothers they might have had as students at St. Ed's and be able to share that experience with their own sons," says Mrs. Hardin. By honoring the departed brothers of Holy Cross with a Dia de los Muertos tradition, students created a physical representation of St. Ed's greater connection with faith, culture and family.