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Santa Clara High Students Celebrate Bay Area Diversity

Celebrating the Bay Area’s diversity through rich reading and writing opportunities is a key component of Santa Clara High School’s multicultural literature and composition course.

In October of 2018, over 340 seniors studied Cristina Henríquez’s “The Book of Unknown Americans” — a novel that focuses on the experiences of immigrants from many Latin American countries. After her husband passes away in America, Alma wants to return to México and “celebrate him on el Día de Muertos... to make an ofrenda with cempasúchil flowers… ”

Using this as inspiration, teachers Hannah Blue, Lindsey Couto-Mohamed, Arantxa Figueroa, Christy Gutierrez, and Maichen Liu-Grossman took their students to Balmy Alley and the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco’s Mission District. Students toured this year’s Día de los Muertos exhibit entitled “Vuelo de los Ancestros” or “Flight of the Ancestors” and also took pictures of the famous murals surrounding the museum.

Keeping with the theme of flight and immigration, moths and monarchs feature prominently in both the exhibit and the murals. While waiting to view the exhibit, students completed a scavenger hunt for other culturally significant aspects of the surrounding neighborhood including signs written in languages other than English and examples of magical realism.

Upon returning to school, the students selected their best photos and added reflection about the experience to them. Additionally, they used their on-site voice recordings as part of a Story Corps assignment based on Dave Isay’s TED Talk “Everyone Around You Has a Story the World Needs to Hear.” This culturally rich day is a reflection of the many activities planned for this unique and engaging course.