A celebration of life and death

ALAS encourages students to participate in this year’s Day of the Dead altar


The Association of Latin-American Students (ALAS) is encouraging the entire student body to add on to this year’s Day of the Dead Altar. This year’s altar is especially significant to many students because they were unable to participate last year due to COVID-19.

“We only got two of our members to come into the building last year and set it up so it’s nice getting other people to be a part of it this year,” said Brenda Rodriguez ‘22, Co-President of ALAS.

While last year’s altar was dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement, this year it’s more focused on the personal losses of the Jones community.

“This year it’s more of an altar for people that have personally lost people that were near and dear to their hearts,” said Sofia Cruz ‘22, another Co-President of ALAS.

Many students have already contributed to the altar with their own personal mementos.

“We noticed that a few people added their own photos and objects to it,” said Rodriguez. “It’s nice because it wasn’t just solely our members setting up our own stuff but we opened it up to the whole Jones community.”

Some students believe that Day of the Dead is just another Halloween, but, to many Latinx students, it means a lot more than that.

“It’s also interesting because it’s an opportunity for people to learn about what Day of the Dead is because a lot of people just view it as ‘Mexican Halloween’ but it’s not even limited to just Mexico,” said Cruz. “We put up signs explaining everything so I’ve seen people go up and read the signs and I thought that was so amazing.”

Day of the Dead is actually a two-day celebration that is celebrated all throughout Latin America. Nov. 1 is Dia de los Angelitos, where it’s believed that the souls of deceased children are reunited with their families. Nov. 2 is Dia de los Defuntos, which is the actual Day of the Dead; and it’s believed that, throughout the day at the altars, families are reunited with the souls of their lost loved ones.

“It’s a day for the souls of deceased people to be a part of their families again,” said Cruz. “There’s a lot of traditions mixed in, for example marigold petals are considered to be the way for souls to reunite with their families.”

There are almost 600 Latinx or Hispanic students currently attending Jones, so the holiday is significant for a lot of these students.

“I think it’s important to showcase [the altar] in our school building to honor all of our students as well as make a space for all these Latinx students at Jones,” said Rodriguez.

Though some students are not very familiar with Day of the Dead and its traditions, they still are excited to see this year’s altar.

“I know very little about the Day of the Dead other than it being a celebration of dead relatives,” said Elias Harris ‘24. “I haven’t heard about it until now so I probably won’t participate in it but I would like to see it when it’s finished.”

Approximately 5.01 million people have died due to COVID-19, so many students feel like this year’s altar was especially important.

“It’s also significant because a lot of people keep acting like the pandemic is over and that people aren’t being affected by it anymore… from my personal experience that’s not true,” said Cruz. “There’s still a lot of things happening inside and outside of the school that deserve to be talked about, including the passing of loved ones due to the pandemic.”