Spanish Students Design Cavalera to Celebrate Dia De Los Muertos

Señora Geri Barnish continues the tradition of Day of the Dead


Philipos Alebachew

Designing her cavalera, freshman Lilian Avila is creating an outline for her project. She worked on it for two weeks.

Philipos Alebachew

Dressing up paper skeletons, or “Calaveras,” as fictional characters, Geri Barnish’s Spanish I and II classes had to demonstrate their writing skills as they commemorated Dia De Los Muertos.

“Day of the Dead [Dia De Los Muertos] is celebrated in November,” Barnish said. “Spanish culture honors the dead by celebrating with food and music and cleaning off the graves of people who have passed on. Although I don’t personally celebrate it, I think it’s important for kids here to get a glimpse of another culture, and how they view life and death.”

She believes this assignment is improving her students’ knowledge of the many aspects of the Spanish language.

“I think it helps with learning Spanish in terms of the cultural elements of the language,” Barnish said. “It also provides them with the written elements that they also have to master. They’re learning a little bit about the language itself because they have to process language to put it on paper.” 

Students like freshman Rianne Taguba believe that the assignment helped her with learning Spanish phrases.

“I like this assignment because it brings out my creative side, and it’s fun,” Taguba said. “I’m learning introductions and simple phrases about my birthday and phone number. I’m glad we could do this instead of just memorizing Spanish phrases. With this, I feel more confident in going up to someone and having a conversation with them in Spanish.”

Spanish II sophomore Jason Ang based his calavera on Buzz Lightyear, a cartoon character he looks up to.

“This project was fun,” Ang said. “I don’t get a lot of creative assignments at this school, so it was nice to do this. My mind felt at ease, and I definitely want to do more assignments like these in the future.”

Barnish finds creative assignments like these necessary to students’ development and finds it has been lacking in recent years.

“Students are struggling with the creative part of the work because they usually just get a clip art online and print instead of designing it,” Barnish said. “Kids are not getting that much of an outlet for their own creativity, and I think they think that they’re not creative, but they can be. All they have to do is work at it. I’d like to see them be able to have a little bit of enjoyment while they are in a class so that eventually when they’re not in that class, they’re gonna go, ‘boy we had fun in that class.”

The projects are currently on display in the lower C building hallway.

“You’re going to see all kinds of personalities in the hallway above the lockers,” Barnish said. “I hang up all of their little faces up on the wall, and the characters all kind of come to life.”