Photo credit: Flickr CC user Barney Moss
For those who grew up in a certain time, holidays were narrowly defined–Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter and not many more. That’s not the case anymore–our awareness and celebration of other holidays has exploded, making our schools more vibrant and fun places. Your yearbook should be at the front of this, capturing other holidays, and maybe even promoting them!
I grew up in California in a diverse farming town just an hour and a half south of San Francisco. I’ve always had friends with varied backgrounds around me and can’t imagine living in a place where people of all cultural backgrounds can’t come together to celebrate their heritages.
Day of the Dead
One big day in my town (and in San Francisco’s Mission District) is Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead. This day follows Halloween and has its origins in Mexico. On this day, people remember their deceased loved ones by creating colorful graves and decorating them with candy skulls, marigolds, and other offerings. Though this day originated with the indigenous peoples of Mexico, and likely has it’s roots in an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, it has spread to numerous cultures around the world–including our own.
At my high school, students observed this day by making alters and decorating the front lawn of campus in the morning. It was a lovely homage, and the front of the school looked amazing. An elective group headed the event, so the school day wasn’t disrupted by another activity. The group also held an informal talk at lunch where students could go and learn about the holiday, its history and why it was such an important day for many of the people in our community. It was a tremendous learning experience and brought students of all backgrounds together.
Celebrating diversity is part of what makes America so great, and it’s important to honor students of all backgrounds when the opportunity presents itself. Whether it’s a holiday like Day of the Dead or another unique custom, educating the student body about these customs can be an amazing experience for all involved.
Whether you go to a public or private school might influence whether or not events like this will be recognized. It’s important to speak to school officials before publicizing anything. Reach out to students who are members of the communities that celebrate this holiday to see what events are planned and how your yearbook staff can cover them. It could be as simple as highlighting a certain student’s Instagram account on the yearbook’s social media page(s) or as complex as sending a team of students out to cover an event.
If you’re going to cover an event, assemble a research team to do some background homework before doing so. The students who cover events should know enough about the events’ history and meaning to ask pertinent questions and capture important moments. While the yearbook isn’t the school paper, this doesn’t mean that you need to limit your students or faculty volunteers to sporting events (although I wouldn’t mind being the one to cover those!) or school pictures. Who knows, you might be responsible for starting some new school traditions that will continue for years to come.
How does your student body embrace other cultures? Does your campus do anything to celebrate Halloween or the Day of the Dead or are you not allowed to? I would love to hear what you have to say in the comment box below.