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Spanish students create ofrenda displays for competition based on Mexican Day of the Dead holiday

Nov. 13, 2019



An ofrenda or altar display with red colors and skulls and images of a student who did the project


This ofrenda dedicated to Poland Central School District Spanish student Jerry Almas won the First Place and Kids Choice awards in a recent competition among Poland high school Spanish students in connection to the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday. Spanish II students Jerry Almas, Gavin Kraucuinas, Seth Walther, Quintin Weigand and Jackson Vail created this ofrenda. 




POLAND – Poland Central School District high school Spanish students recently competed in groups to each create ofrendas to honor a famous person of Hispanic heritage for the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday.

Students have been learning about “la ofrenda” during their studies of Mexican culture. Ofrenda means offering, but ofrendas are altars that Mexican people create each year for Day of the Dead dedicated to loved ones who have passed away.

“They believe this is a respectful way to pay homage to those that have passed,” Poland Spanish teacher Hilary Gibbons said. “It’s definitely a more positive sense of death. The memories never die, and they keep them alive with the ofrendas. It’s a celebration of life and of death.”

High school students in Spanish II, Spanish III and College Now Spanish created projects for the competition, and judging was conducted on Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the library. Judging was based on a variety of factors in three categories: creativity, authenticity and the thoroughness of the dedication to a famous person of Hispanic heritage who is dead or alive.

The following groups of students won prizes in the competition and will receive a variety of small prizes:

  • First Place and Kids Choice: Spanish II students Jerry Almas, Gavin Kraucuinas, Seth Walther, Quintin Weigand and Jackson Vail. This ofrenda was dedicated to one of the students in the group, Jerry Almas, who considers himself famous, Gibbons joked.


  • Second Place: College Now Spanish students Sara Borner, Kayden Lamphere, Jessica Batson and Rackelle Wright. This ofrenda was dedicated to Selena Gomez.


  • Third Place: Spanish III students Brianna Comstock, Trista Houghtaling, Alicia Perryman and Jamie Pritchard. This ofrenda was dedicated to Karla Camila Cabello Estrabao.

Gibbons said she is always looking for new ways to present topics to students in an interesting way, so she tried the ofrenda competition this year and definitely plans to continue doing it in the future because students seemed to have fun, relish the competition and take something away from it.

“The kids really enjoyed it,” she said.

The College Now Spanish students who won second place said they had fun with the project.

“It was interesting, just to say the least,” Lamphere said.

One challenge was doing the research on the person and then figuring out how to use that information physically on the ofrenda display, Lamphere said.

The group members got into the competition and were confident about their project, Batson said.

“We felt solid,” she said.

The students said they learned a lot about ofrendas through the project.

“We just found out it was important to honor certain people and their branches as far as family goes,” Lamphere said.

“Just to honor your loved ones and to honor your past,” Borner added.

Wright said she agreed with comments Gibbons made about the way Day of the Dead creates a different view of death in Mexican culture.

“I think it’s a positive thing – more of a celebration of death,” she said. “And we all did our own part in the project, so we worked together well.”



A mostly black and white ofrenda dedicated to Selena Gomez


This ofrenda dedicated to Selena Gomez won the Second Place award in a recent competition among Poland high school Spanish students in connection to the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday. College Now Spanish students Sara Borner, Kayden Lamphere, Jessica Batson and Rackelle Wright created this ofrenda.




A colorful ofrenda dedicated to Camila Cabello


This ofrenda dedicated to Karla Camila Cabello Estrabao won the Third Place award in a recent competition among Poland high school Spanish students in connection to the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday. Spanish III students Brianna Comstock, Trista Houghtaling, Alicia Perryman and Jamie Pritchard created this ofrenda.