Lyons Township High School brings famous Hispanics back to life
Grace Chambers of La Grange portrays Beatriz Galindo. Teacher Maria Lopez Yanez had her Spanish classes present a Day of the Dead program. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:14AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — Roberto Clemente, Pancho Villa and Evita Peron came back to pay Lyons Township High School Spanish students a visit Nov. 1 during a special class project.
Spanish teacher Maria Lopez Yanez introduced a special twist on Hispanics’ traditional Day of the Dead celebration, normally a religious observance. Instead, the Spanish III class of sophomores researched, dressed and spoke as famous deceased Hispanics to their classmates and visitors.
Amanda Ng of Countryside said she wore a purple wig and rented a Salsa dress with a 4-foot train to portray Celia Cruz, a flamboyant dancer, actress and singer from Cuba.
“I liked seeing the kids act and share their talents, things we wouldn’t see outside of school,” Ng said.
She performed a dance with several friends.
In addition to dressing as the person researched, each student performed, sometimes sharing a talent possessed by the famous person, or instead, a talent of personal talent. One student, who researched a poet, juggled.
Ben Hewett of Western Springs, who plays piano, researched Tomas de Victoria, a composer of church music.
“It was a great experience just talking in Spanish to other people in general,” Hewett said.
Lopez Yanez, who was born in Cuba, invited her mom, who was born in Spain, and other family members and friends to the program to hear the students’ presentations and ask questions.
“I am a native speaker, and I’m really proud of my heritage,” she said. “Culture cannot be successfully taught. It must be experienced.”