Our own Eliza Fields checks in from her post at ReNEW Accelerated High School with some recent news…
My job as the Youth Engagement Coordinator at ReNEW Accelerated High School has allowed me to create interesting events for the high school students, such as a celebration for Dia de los Muertos.
Dia de los Muertos or “Day of the Dead” is a holiday from Mexico that allows a community to remember loved ones who have passed away and to celebrate their lives.
It is celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd following All Saints Day.
Our Day of the Dead celebration was the first and largest cultural event (so far!) at ReNEW Accelerated High School.
More than 80 students attended the celebration. Many of the ReNEW staff members, including the principal, helped with the event by bringing and serving food, playing Latin music and showing off some amazing face-painting skills.
I chose to celebrate Dia de los Muertos at ReNEW because I really admire its spiritual nature and I wanted my students to learn about a unique culture and to celebrate a Fall holiday other than Halloween.
So, on Thursday, October 30th, our school had its own Day of the Dead celebration which included great food (like BBQ tacos, fajitas, and Sugar Skull cookies), Latin dance music and exciting games, such as the Breaking of the Piñata!
My most memorable part of the celebration was at the very beginning when we paused for a moment of silence to acknowledge and honor those we have lost.
Following the holiday’s tradition, we also created a beautiful Ofrenda (or prayer altar) in order for the students to write a note to a loved one that they wanted to remember.
Overall, our Dia de los Muertos or “Day of the Dead” celebration was a great moment for everyone at ReNEW to experience Latin American culture and to fellowship with one another.
Inspired by the success of the Dia de los Muertos celebration, I was looking forward to ReNEW’s first-ever service field trip with YRNO, graciously titled: The “Rebuild a Home” workshop.
That Saturday, last weekend, started off with a cold morning. I arrived at the school with minutes to spare, with granola bars and hot chocolate for the students.
But time passed, and only a small crew had arrived. It seemed the cold weather had driven the rest of the student and teacher volunteers into hiding.
Regardless, I assembled my small band which included myself, Ms. M, our Science teacher, and two students, Kenneth and Lakeya.
In Ms. M’s brilliant white jeep, we triumphantly drove to the work site on St. Ann.
We arrived at the site, welcomed by Chris and Dvhante, who talked to us about YRNO and gave a tour of the housing site.
After a quick pizza lunch and speech on safety, our team put on our gloves and got to work!
We started with the front of the house. The floor was non-existent and trash and dirt covered the area. Our task was to clean out the floor as much as possible and throw everything into the dumpster that stood in the street out front.
Joined by a young student from Ben Franklin, we worked in a team of five. I was the holder of the wheelbarrow and the rest of my teammates worked on clean up.
We took turns, alternating between raking, shoveling and dumping the trash into the wheelbarrow to be carried over to the dumpster.
In three hours, we cleaned out both the front and back of the house. It was a good day, and the workshop ended with a good lesson of resilience and empowerment!
A full “Day of the Dead” gallery follows!