STAAR welcomes all, living and dead, to Día De los Muertos celebration


Greek Feeney

Parents, teachers and students attend STAAR’s Día de los Muertos event.

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Students Taking Action for Anti-Racism (STAAR) program at Archie Williams held a celebration in the student center for the Latine holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The celebration invited students, parents, and staff to enjoy the afternoon with traditional Latin food, drinks, and decorations. The event aimed to help students learn about Latin culture and different Dia de los Muertos celebrations around the world.


STAAR students Xoxa Bell and Belen Hitchcock serve food to attendees. (Greek Feeney)

The event itself provided traditional beverages and dishes served by the STAAR students, with ofrendas (Spanish for altars) to commemorate family members who have passed away. Other ofrendas featured those who passed due to human rights issues such as femicide, police brutality, and murder of environmentalists. The movie Coco, a story about a young boy navigating the afterlife on Día de los Muertos, also played throughout the event. 

STAAR decorated the student center with marigolds, papel picado (colorful paper banners), and sarapes (traditional Latin tablecloths). The program also made empanadas, pupusas, horchata, muffins, coffee cake, brownies and cookies for attendees to purchase to fund future STAAR events. 

LoRayne Ortega, STAAR teacher, oversaw the event. 

“I set up my own ofrenda or altar, and it’s to remember family members, and I’ve only started doing this maybe in the last five or six years. I didn’t grow up with the tradition but I’m excited that we get to do it here at Archie [Williams] for the first time,” Ortega said.

Marigolds, paper flowers, candles and colorful tablecloths are a few of the traditional decorations used for ofrendas on Día de los Muertos. (Greek Feeney)

The celebration brought a crowd of students and parents, including Archie Williams junior, Emily Tenorio.

“[Día de los Muertos] is a celebration of a culture and especially living and growing up in Marin, that’s something that’s super important for us; to celebrate each other’s cultures,” Emily said.

For Emily, this event gave students exposure to other cultures.

“I have learned that [Dia de los Muertos] is a celebration to commemorate those who have passed [with] beautiful traditions. It’s not a day that is sad but it is one that is supposed to be happy and celebrated,” Emily said.

Archie Williams senior and STAAR member, Alexis Ayala, helped coordinate the event. To Alexis, hosting this event for Archie Williams expanded the holiday to all people, not only those of Latin heritage or Christian religion.

“[Día de los Muertos] doesn’t have to be something that you associate with religion. It’s not something that necessarily someone celebrates just because they are of Latine heritage but anyone can celebrate it no matter where you’re from,” Alexis said.

STAAR invited all attendees, regardless of faith, to make an ofrenda and learn about Latine culture.

“It’s important to me to celebrate all of our loved ones that have passed on and remind them wherever they may be that they’re still in our hearts and we still remember them,” Alexis said.

STAAR’s Día de los Muertos celebration invited the Archie Williams community to learn more about Latine cultures and traditions.