Bordewich-Bray enrichment days focus on el Dia de los Muertos holiday |

Bordewich-Bray enrichment days focus on el Dia de los Muertos holiday

Sandi Hoover
Jim Grant/Nevada Appeal

Every November, families in Mexico celebrate el Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, to honor departed loved ones.

In October, students at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School got acquainted with the holiday by immersing themselves in the Mexican tradition for one hour a week for the past four weeks.

The enrichment classes are offered at no cost at the school every spring and fall by the Parent Teacher Association, said PTA President Christine Malone.

“We usually do it after school for six weeks, but this one is just the four weeks leading up to Day of the Dead,” she said.

Previous enrichments have been dedicated to science, hiking and nature, Lego Club, robotics and gardening, in addition to culture.

“This is a huge success,” Malone said. “I think parents really like something extra they can give their kids.”

More than 30 youngsters from kindergarten through fifth grade filled the room Tuesday afternoon to decorate sugar skulls, or calaveras de azucar. In the previous weeks, they had made decorations such as skeletons, masks and papel picado.

According to material presented during the Tuesday activity, “Mexico, abundant in sugar production and too poor to buy fancy imported European church decorations, learned quickly from the friars how to make sugar art for their religious festivals.”

Veronica Vega, a mother of two Bordewich-Bray students, said she has helped with all of the four cultural enrichment days.

Vega made 100 sugar skulls this week, with the help of Marlene Gonzlez and Martha Sanchez, to be used in the activity and in her children’s school classes.

“On this day, we bring food to the cemetery, because it’s a tradition of our culture to honor those who’ve died,” she said. “We celebrate the Day of the Dead on the first and second day of November.”

Vega admits that as a family, while she likes her children to understand their heritage, they usually go trick-or-treating, rather than celebrate Dia de los Muertos.

As youngsters started decorating their sugar skulls, Malone cautioned them to not eat their sugar skull, but rather, to wait until they got home and talked to their parents. But with so many frosting colors to choose from, there was a lot of finger-licking going on.

“I’ve learned how to say Day of the Dead in Spanish,” said 10-year-old Alex Bennett, “and I like doing this because we get to make crafts and learn about different cultures.”

Another 10-year-old, Xitlali Vega, said she also enjoyed making crafts.

“This involves Spanish culture, and I get to make a lot of decorations,” she said.

Her brother, 8-year-old Ariel Vega, was a bit more thoughtful.

“I like doing this because you use your imagination, and you create stuff with your own hands – not a machine – and because you get to celebrate the dead,” he said.