School News

Memorial High Headlines

 

The MHS Meistersingers, the varsity mixed choir at Memorial High, competed recently during the Texas Renaissance Festival, beating out 20 other high school choirs in the Large Mixed Choir Division for a first-place trophy.

The group’s win marked the first appearance at the special-event choir festival for the MHS Meistersingers. The Meistersingers competed against high school choirs from Austin, Houston, the San Antonio area and other surrounding school districts.

The Texas Renaissance Festival, which dates back to 1974, is held over nine weekends in October and November. More than a half million festivalgoers regularly visit the site in Grimes County, about 55 miles northwest of Houston.

The medieval festival operates on 50-plus acres. It’s well known for its costumed actors, walking performers, themed weekend celebrations, artisans, shops and music, dancers and special public reenactments ranging from medieval jousts to free-flying bird shows.

The MHS Meistersingers won first place performing on a festival grounds stage during an Early Music Festival for middle and high school groups, held on Nov. 7. 

“This was the first time Meistersingers has competed in this competition, and we are so proud to have come out on top, even against several past competition winners,” reports Memorial High Director of Choirs Lawrence Johnson.

Meistersinger is a German term for “master singer,” and the term was used to describe a member of a German guild who performed lyric poems, early music composition and unaccompanied art song during the 14th through 16th centuries.

Memorial High Choir students in recent years have won numerous local, regional and state awards, including prestigious All-State recognitions.

Members of the MHS Meistersingers include: Mina Azad, Eric Bavaro, DeCory Brown, Lydia Bryant, Laura Carrasco, Angela Choi, My-Lien Dang, Rober Diaz, Diona Evers, Laura Fields, Joseph Finck, Max Gao, Mason Guzman, Logan Hallock, Payton Hill, Connie Lee, Connie Lee, Elizabeth Lee and Daniel Lim.

Student members also include Connor Moore, Colin Norton, Taylor O’Hara, Alex Papin, Emily Read, Reagan Sepulveda, Carter Smith, Maisa Syed, James Tesarek, Sophia Trifilio, David Trippon, Crystal Wang, Chandler Weber and Reece Wilkinson.

Visitors to Memorial High School’s Dia de los Muertos celebration on Nov. 2 quickly learned one thing – the Day of the Dead is not Halloween, nor is it observed like Halloween.

Organized by the Spanish III classes of teachers Yoset Altamirano and Rafaela Berrones, Friday’s celebration included altars celebrating the lives of prominent Hispanic figures, a main altar and a mariachi band in the lobby of the MHS auditorium. Colorful “papel picado” – paper cut into intricate and elaborate designs, hung over a mock graveyard.

 

Spanish III students at MHS study the history and roots of the celebration then bring it to life by learning about an important Hispanic figure and creating an altar.

Spanish Club President Asha Ayyar told those crowded into the lobby that Day of the Dead started with the Aztecs and other pre-Hispanic cultures in Central America. The Aztecs in particular believed that the spirits of the dead return, and Dia de los Muertos is a holiday to honor the spirits of loved ones.

Spanish conquerors didn’t like the tradition of recognizing the dead – for them, death was final and the celebrations scared them. For the Aztecs, though, death was part of the circle of life and even loved ones who had passed from the earth enjoyed the beauty of the decorations and celebrations.

Altars today include photos of the loved ones as well as items that the person enjoyed in life, including food and sweets.

 

Altamirano said that in Honduras, her home country, the holiday is sort of like Memorial Day here, where families go to cemeteries to clean gravesites of loved ones. It wasn’t until she got to Houston that she learned the Mexican tradition.

Barrones said that she’s from Mexico but really didn’t know the celebration until her college years at Texas Tech, where she was active in the Spanish Club.

“It has nothing to do with Halloween,” said Barrones. “It’s not spooky … kids can learn about their family members.”

Altamirano and Barrones were dressed as La Catrina, a skeletal lady first depicted by Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada and stylized more elegantly by Diego Rivera. Slang for elegant or well-dressed, La Catrina has become the iconic image in the Day of the Dead celebrations.

Many MHS Spanish students wore faces painted as skeletons throughout the day Friday, including freshmen Sarah Davis, Renee Read and Morgan Valdivieso. Durng an interview with MHS broadcast journalists, Read said she got “a lot of weird looks in the hallway” but that the day was fun.

 

Altamirano said that her classes celebrate Day of the Dead every year, but has the bigger event such as Friday’s every other year.

Day of the Dead is used as a teaching and learning opportunity at various campuses across the district.

 

Families and mentors are a critical part of helping students make connections between what is learned at school and what they experience outside campus walls. We welcome and encourage parents, families, and mentors to partner with us!

The new Empowered & Equipped! site features resources to support conversations and activities at home, and in the community, with monthly lessons aligned to SBISD instruction. These lessons focus on the critical areas of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)and building awareness of various career pathways as part of the Spring Branch T-2-4 Goal.

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