L.A.C.E.S. (Language and Culture at the Elementary Schools) celebrates El Día de los Muertos at Sunrise Drive

  • Enjoying its second year, the L.A.C.E.S. (Language and Culture at the Elementary Schools) Program continues to offer third graders—for a trimester—weekly opportunities to study Spanish. This year, the program expanded to include a trimester of weekly French lessons for fourth graders while fifth graders participate in a before-school Spanish enrichment club. In addition, to make learning language fun and memorable, the lessons also incorporate interactive and engaging activities such as singing, dancing, and crafts.

    Case in point El Día de los Muertos. On November first and second, the Sunrise Drive third graders were introduced to the traditional “celebration of love” by their teacher Señora Kristin Chirichella. She welcomed them with her face painted (thanks to HS art teacher Jen Berotti) in a festive calavera design and explained the significance of her make-up along with the day’s lesson. Although focusing on those who have died could be a somber occasion, for Hispanic cultures, El Día de los Muertos is anything but. The November fiesta spans two-days and celebrates with food, music, flowers, and parties held in the cemeteries. The students learned that El Día de los Muertos is a special time for rejoicing in the memories of those loved ones by restoring happiness to aching hearts.   

    Señora Chirichella’s effervescent enthusiasm ensured that the students grasped the cultural significance of the skeleton motifs and understood the light and joyful aspects of El Día de los Muertos. Enhancing their lesson with song and short animations about the holiday, Señora Chirichella also assigned a special craft to commemorate the day. Her students made their own calavera masks as they shared what they knew about the movie Coco, as well as about the loss of relatives and the love they had shared.

    Since 2017, the World Languages Department has been partnering with Sayville’s elementary schools to bring a world languages enrichment program to our students.  The goal of this program is to expose students to world languages and engage them in learning activities that encourage communication in another language as well as an awareness and appreciation of other cultures.

    After Señora Chirichella successfully concludes her trimester with the Sunrise Drive students, she will begin the next trimester at Cherry Avenue and finish the last trimester at Lincoln Avenue so that each elementary school will benefit from this excellent program.  

Señora Kristin Chirichella  introduces a cultural understanding for El Dia de los Muertos
Student makes his own calavera mask.
Students at work...
Señora Chirichella assists student.
A class of completed calavera