As you walk through the front doors of the newly renamed Dr. Karen M. Trujillo Administration Complex, you will find a dazzling display of colors used to decorate an ofrenda paying homage to staff members of Las Cruces Public Schools who have passed away over the course of the year.

Día de los Muertos is a day many Mexican families gather to celebrate the lives of loved ones they have lost over the years. An ofrenda is a traditional alter also called altares, the word ofrenda means offering in Spanish. Ofrendas are an essential part of the Day of the Dead celebrations. Pictures of the dearly departed are placed on the ofrenda, as well as some of their favorite things they enjoyed on earth such as food, flowers, and most often times, a personal item.

The LCPS Bilingual Education, Translation, Interpretation, and Community Outreach (BETICO) team decorated the Ofrenda in honor of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2. BETCO works to help provide LCPS families with linguistically and culturally comprehensive outreach. The team helps connect many families to vital resources while ensuring translations are given to Spanish-speaking families in order for them to receive the same information as English-speaking families.

The ofrenda at LCPS displays photos and names of several staff members who have passed recently, including Gloria Garza, Damacio Bernal, Sylvia Garcia, Christopher Sarmiento, Jose Reyes, Beatrice Ramirez and Elizabeth Placencio — all of whom died due to COVID-19 complications. Some family members sent in photos of loved ones at the request of the BETICO team.

At the very top of the ofrenda is a photo to honor the life and leadership of Dr. Karen M. Trujillo, the late superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools. Trujillo passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 25, 2021.

“It was important for us to take the opportunity to have the time to reflect, remember and honor our loved ones,” said Adriana Ontiveros Family and Community Outreach Coordinator for Bilingual Education.

“We believe that we must always call upon our ancestors, our elders, our friends, and family to guide us and protects us so we may continue to thrive despite the difficult times. We wanted to showcase that through the altar and encourage our schools to do the same and through such work create a stronger sense community that is so needed during this time,” Ontiveros added.

LCPS families as well as community members are welcome to visit the ofrenda and pay their respects to remember the lives within the district that were lost.

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— Samantha Lewis, LCPS Public Relations Coordinator, 575-635-9303, slewis@lcps.net