For the second consecutive year, an altar contest was held at PSJA Memorial Early College High School.

On Friday, students and teachers from every campus within the district participated in the event, which was organized by the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Mexican-American Studies program.

“This is the second year that UTRGV, together with Pharr-San Juan-Alamo district, they host a Dia de los Muertos contest,” explained Maria Rosario Garcia, a Spanish teacher at PSJA Memorial ECHS. “Last year we got first place. It was an amazing altar. We didn’t think that we could do anything better than last year, but we decided to honor those people, our loved ones that passed away.”

The theme of the altars this year was values, which students and teachers displayed with photos of their departed loved ones, colorful flowers, and other decorations to represent the values left by the deceased.

The altars were displayed in the library of the high school. PSJA Memorial Mariachi, Spanish Club, art students, graphic designers, and wood shop classes were just a few of the departments that created their own altars for the competition.

“We got help from every department,” Garcia said. “The band, colorguard, everybody from the school, we got everybody involved. Basically what it was, we want to keep our traditions in our culture. The students were so enthusiastic about everything. The results were amazing.”

The Dia de los Muertos tradition caries influences from the Aztec culture as well as traditions within the Catholic religion. The altars, or ofrendas, are traditionally decorated with sugar skulls, marigolds, photographs, bread and salt, each of which carries different meanings.

Garcia explained that the results of the altar contest will be announced next Saturday at the Feast of Sharing event, when the community will have an opportunity to view the work that the students put in to each altar.

“We want the students to remember the values of respect, dignity and integrity,” Garcia said. “We want our students to see that they’re there. It was amazing.”