Día de los Muertos Event at Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies

I’ve attended many Día de los Muertos events. It’s something that my family and I enjoy.

This year is even more special. I wanted to highlight the amazing community event in my neighborhood. It’s special because for the first time in a while, I am witnessing the beautiful collaboration on the Sotomayor campus with a charter school and a few LAUSD schools. This event is free and open to the community.

I interviewed Ms. Cueva, one of the teachers who is spearheading this event.

LMD: We can start with a little about you? I hear you are a pretty popular teacher.  I love that you are a Latina teaching art! I personally, think visual and performing arts are important in schools. I know your schools has some pretty great programs. What do you teach?

Ms. Cueva: I teach Art I, Art II, and Art III

LMD: Do you teach another other classes or clubs?

Ms. Cueva: Yes, I do after school Art Club

LMD: How long have you been teaching and how long at eCals?

Ms. Cueva: This will be my 5th year teaching and also my 5th year at eCALS (Early College Academy For Leaders and Scholars- PUC Charter School).

LMD: What is your degree in and what school did you attend?

Ms. Cueva: I am a graduate from Cal State Los Angeles with a degree in Art Education.

LMD: Are you a local?

Ms. Cueva: Yes, born and raised in different areas throughout Los Angeles. I have been a resident of East Los Angeles for the past 10 years.

LMD: What made you want to teach at a charter school?

Ms. Cueva: I liked the idea of a more one on one education. With smaller class sizes, it allows me to have more individualized instruction. I think this is key in helping students not only learn the material being presented, but also, it helps students develop relationships with their teachers. Sometimes in larger classes the students get overlooked, and they end up feeling like no one really cares if they learn the material or not.

LMD: Is the Día de los Muertos event free?

Ms. Cueva: This is a free event.

LMD: How long have you been doing this event?

Ms. Cueva: This is the 5th year eCALS has participated in a Día de los Muertos event for the community, however, this is the second year that the event has been a campus wide Sotomayor event including the 5 schools on campus.

LMD: Are you fundraising for a particular cause?

Ms. Cueva: Each school will be fundraising for different clubs. At eCALS, we will be fundraising for the visual and performing arts, as well as scholarships for this year’s seniors, through the sale of food and t-shirts.

LMD: What will you be selling?

Ms. Cueva: A variety of food and also t-shirts.

LMD: How long is the planning for this event?

Ms. Cueva: The planning for the event starts two months prior.

LMD: What does it cost?

Ms. Cueva: I’m not sure, I  know that there are a lot of costs involved, but a lot of the costs such as supervision are taken care of by the campus wide ASB. However, there is also a lot of time and goods donated by teachers/students.

LMD: Is this a school-wide event?

Ms. Cueva: Yes, it is a Sotomayor campus wide event.

LMD: What are other schools contributing?

Ms. Cueva: Asides from eCALS, the other schools on campus will also have art displays and altars. Some schools also have music acts scheduled to performed.

LMD: What kind of exhibits are students doing?

Ms. Cueva: Most schools will have art and altars displayed. The eCALS displays will include a variety of installations/altars and traditional Día de los Muertos art. There will also be a variety of displays that are influenced by this year’s theme Victims of Violence. In addition to the altars/installations displayed on the eCALS grounds, we will also have an indoor eCALS art gallery.   

LMD: I know the music students will be performing, how many other disciplines are you collaborating with?

Ms. Cueva: This year we will have many contents contributing to the event. In addition to the visual and performing arts students, the Spanish, English, history, journalism, and yearbook classes will contribute pieces to the celebration.

We hope to get a great turn-out, and thank you to La Comadre for helping us promote this event. We definitely appreciate it.

What do you think?

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Lisette Medina Duarte

Lisette Medina Duarte

Co-Chair at State Council on Developmental Disabilities

Lisette Medina-Duarte is a bilingual Los Angeles native. She grew up in Northeast Los Angeles’ Highland Park and graduated from Franklin High School. She continues to live in Highland park with her husband and her two children, who are on the autism spectrum. One of her children is in a charter school and the other is in a traditional public school. She has a strong passion and commitment to working with underserved and underprivileged communities. She is a grassroots organizer for social justice and educational advocacy, disability rights, equality and inclusions for African American and Latino communities of Greater Los Angeles.

In addition to managing multiple outreach, volunteer, and advocacy campaigns, Lisette’s 20 years of administrative experience have included fundraising, engagement, events, and sponsorship procurement. She has served on several local and school district leadership committees, facilitates parent groups, conducts workshops, and is often invited to speak at conferences. She is currently a member of the advisory board for UCLA’s Tarjan Center and a member of the Empowerment Congress. She was appointed by former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina to the state Council on Developmental Disabilities. She is also a member of the Community Police Advisory Board for the Northeast Los Angeles Police Department. She is also a consultant and board member for several California nonprofits. She works as a senior coordinator in field operations and development for a national nonprofit organization and is responsible for serving Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Diego County.

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