MHS Spanish students celebrate ‘DAY OF THE DEAD’
with magic butterflies
By Robert Green
The 200 or so Spanish students at Manti High School who created a large mural to celebrate the Day of the Dead, or as they have learned, Día de los Muertos, have discovered all those Monarch butterflies pasted on their artwork have magical qualities.
That’s because Spanish teacher Olga Willey turned a class project to celebrate the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead, into a fascinating learning experience on Monarch Butterflies.
Willey decided to try something different this year, she said.
This year, instead of focusing exclusively on praying and remembering those who have died, she emphasized the migration of the Monarch butterfly, a symbol for “souls of the dead.”
Magically, millions of these winged creatures arrive in Mexico City after migrating from Canada at the same time as people start celebrating the Day of the Dead holiday on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2.
Willey said the migration of the Monarch butterfly is fascinating and she passed on her enthusiasm about the subject to her students.
Because the life span of an average adult butterfly is only two to six weeks, it takes four generations of butterflies to migrate from Mexico to Canada. Then a super generation of butterfly is hatched, which is capable of making the return trip in one shot. They navigate by an internal clock and a solar compass.
“Because the butterflies arrive at the time the Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico,” Willey said. “many people believe the butterflies bring the souls of their ancestors who have passed away.”
The butterflies spend the winter in the mountains and trees about two hours west of Mexico City.
Tourists take sightseeing trips on horseback to watch the millions of congregating butterflies; after witnessing the spectacle, many people have exclaimed it is “one of the wonders of the world.”
Willey spent time in class reading, talking and watching videos on the subject. And then she engaged all her students to help decorate and create the mural. The large wall hanging took about a week to finish.
Willey said she likes her classes to be a window to the world. “I want to teach them about different cultures and celebrations,” she said.