Dia de los Muertos: What is it, who celebrates it, and how can you be a part of it?

By: Alexa Ramirez

Over 345,000 people all over the state of Minnesota identify as Hispanic or Latino, and within that community, many people are preparing for the holiday, Día de los Muertos. Here at Highland Park High School, the Union Latina club hosted an event to celebrate and educate students about the holiday, in the gym, where students of any class could come down (with teachers’ permission), learn about Día de los Muertos and immerse themselves in some of the typical activities that people take part in during this holiday. But let’s talk about some key information first: What is it? Where does it come from? Who celebrates it? Let’s see!

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday that takes place from October 31 through November 2. The belief around the holiday is that on those days you welcome back deceased relatives to be reunited with them and celebrate their lives with food, drink and celebration. According to tradition, the gates of heaven are opened on October 31 for the spirits of deceased children to rejoin their families for 24 hours.

This works the same way for the spirits of deceased adults on November 1 and 2. The holiday is a blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture and goes back some 3,000 years, originally being celebrated in Mexico by Aztecs, Nahuatl people and many other indigenous tribes who lived by the belief that death is an integral, and present part of life, that is meant to be acknowledged and not feared. It’s still celebrated in Mexico today and in other countries like Spain, Brazil, Guatemala, and many more. It is a way we show our deceased family that they are still with us and that they are not forgotten.

Contrary to popular belief, Día de los Muertos is not another form of Halloween. Though they share a date and people dress up and celebrate for both, they are very different holidays. On the Day of the Dead, it is believed that the border between the spiritual and living world dissolves, and during that period, the souls of the dead return to the living world to visit the living. When they do, they’re greeted with feasts, drinks, dances and music that they enjoy with their loved ones. They are treated as guests and are met with their favorite foods, things that cater to their interests, and other offerings all laid out on an ofrenda. Ofrendas are typically built at gravesites or in people’s homes and are decorated with candles, flowers called cempasúchil, food, photos of their deceased loved ones and any other items they deem fitting to add.

At Highland, many students (myself included) celebrate this holiday and want to share it with those at the school, which we did through the Union Latina club, where we put on an event in the field house, at the school, where students could come and learn about Día de los Muertos.

We had many different stations with activities for visitors to do. There was a coloring station where students could color in drawings from famous movies that feature Day of the Dead; a photo booth where they could try on traditional Mexican dresses, hats and decorated skeleton masks and take photos in them; and a face paint table where students got their faces painted with skeleton features in black and white or in colorful and decorative styles (whichever they preferred), which is something very common in Day of the Dead festivals and other celebrations.

Students could also visit the ofrenda that the club put together with decorative flowers, candles, and a bread that’s commonly used to decorate or to consume during Día de los Muertos called Pan de Muertos. The ofrenda had photos to celebrate those who have passed and have been important to the community here in our Saint Paul Public Schools, like Paul Wellstone and Philando Castile, as well as some passed Hispanic historical figures like Selena.

Along with these activities, we had some interactive activities like musical chairs and a group dance called el Caballo Dorado (the Golden Horse) which is a common Mexican line dance that we taught to the students and all danced together. This event was a huge success! Many classes showed up to learn, celebrate and enjoy this holiday together.

Aztec dance being performed by members of the Union Latina
The Ofrenda set up by members of the Unión Latina
Paper flower making during the Dia de los Muertos celebration
Unión Latina club during the Dia de los Muertos celebration

This event is an annual one that ULA puts on along with many others, and is an excellent way to immerse yourself in Latino culture by learning about one of its most cherished holidays right here at Highland.

Image taken from: https://www.imdb.com/title/

More ways you can learn about Dia de los Muertos are by reading about it in books like ‘Ghosts’ by Raina Telgemaier or ‘Day of the Dead in the USA’ by Regina M. Marchi, it’s also featured in popular movies like ‘Coco’ and celebrated locally at events like the Dia de los Muertos festival in Minneapolis on November 5, and the Dia de los Muertos Fiesta at the Midtown market, also in Minneapolis.

Dia de los Muertos is one of the many Hispanic holidays that surround us here in MN with so many Hispanic and Latino people all around, and getting involved in it is an excellent way to learn and experience a new culture and enrich your life.

Image taken from: https://goraina.com/ghosts

For more information, please visit:

Ocean pollution and how to prevent it

By: Addison Strack

Image taken from: https://www.google.com/url?sa

Ocean pollution is a major problem that is greatly affecting the world’s oceans, and this article will give information about how to prevent the issue.

There are two main types of ocean pollution that damage ecosystems in the ocean, and are harmful to the health of organisms in the ocean.

The first type of pollution is called chemical pollution. Chemical pollution is a result of runoff from the use of fertilizer and pesticides on farms, sewage, and more. An increased use of nitrogen and phosphorus in chemicals that end up in the ocean have promoted the growth of algal blooms, which can be toxic to wildlife and humans. These chemicals are also very harmful to ecosystems in the ocean.

The second type of pollution is trash pollution. The main type of trash that ends up in oceans is plastic items, such as shopping bags, beverage bottles and caps, food wrappers, and more. Plastics are the main type of trash pollution in the ocean, because plastic can take 100s of years to decompose, resulting in buildup of these items in the ocean.

Trash pollution is very dangerous to marine life, because they can get tangled in, and digest the trash. When small organisms eat micro plastics, which are very small pieces of plastics, they absorb the chemicals from the plastics into their tissues. When larger organisms consume these smaller organisms, the toxic chemicals then become a part of their tissues. Eventually, micro plastics will then reach part of the food that humans eat.

If we don’t do anything about ocean pollution, there will be multiple negative impacts. One of the most notable impacts would be that if ocean pollution continues, it will accelerate climate change. Mangroves, reefs, and other underwater ecosystems store large amounts of carbon, and because of this, the ocean contains the most amount of carbon in the world. Pollution can destroy these ecosystems, resulting in the carbon being released into the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change.

Ocean pollution also puts marine life in danger, and can lead to extinction and endangerment of underwater species.

There are multiple things that you can do to help prevent and reduce ocean pollution.

Reducing your waste is a major change that you can make in your everyday life, to help prevent ocean pollution. Avoiding singles use plastics, such as plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic straws, and more will help to reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfills, which could eventually make their way into the ocean.

Respecting the ocean is another thing that you can do. You can do this by fishing responsibly, making sure you don’t litter, and following rules when you are on the water.

Volunteering for beach and ocean cleanups in your community also helps immensely. You could participate in international events as well, such as Global Ocean Cleanup or The International Coastal Cleanup.

As seen above, protecting the world’s oceans is critical if we want to do anything to avoid worsening climate change, and ensure that the ocean will be accessible for generations to come.

If you would like to read more about ocean pollution and cleanups, feel free to visit the websites below:

“Midnights Mayhem with Me”: Everything you need to know about Taylor Swift’s new album

By: Erin Moore

On October 21, 2022 at midnight sharp, Taylor Swift, global pop sensation, released her twelfth, if you’re including her rerecords, studio album. 

Since its release, it has obliterated records both regarding streaming platforms and sales of physical copies, and it has ignited much excitement regarding a potential tour of the six albums she’s released since her previous tour for “Reputation.” 

In this article, I will give an overview, my opinions on the album, and related news since the release of the album in that order. 

Prior to the release of the album, Taylor Swift posted videos on TikTok titled “Midnights Mayhem with Me,”  announcing the titles of the thirteen tracks to be on her upcoming album. The videos received a cumulative 79.3 million views. After this, she posted additional Instagram Reels providing the inspiration for three of the songs in the album, which achieved 54.2 million views. 

Roughly a week from its drop, billboards in various major cities released various lyrics from the upcoming album. Additionally, she released clips on Spotify announcing different things that kept her up at night, leading to the subject of the songs (self-loathing, fantasizing about revenge, wondering what might’ve been, falling in love, and falling apart). As an avid fan of Taylor and her music, I saved these lyrics and subjects and predicted which songs they were referring to, very clear proof that these methods were very successful at building up excitement for the album’s release.

‘Midnights’ contains thirteen songs, totaling at forty-four minutes. The longest being “Snow on the Beach (ft. Lana Del Ray)” with a length of four minutes and sixteen seconds and the shortest being “Vigilante Sh*t” with two minutes and forty-four seconds. Thus, it is the shortest of any album she’s put out as of yet. 

The songs in the album will be titled as follows:

  1. Lavender Haze
  2. Maroon
  3. Anti-Hero
  4. Snow on the Beach (ft. Lana Del Ray)
  5. You’re on Your Own, Kid
  6. Midnight Rain
  7. Question…?
  8. Vigilante Sh*t
  9. Bejeweled
  10. Labyrinth
  11. Karma
  12. Sweet Nothing
  13. Mastermind

Prior to the album, yet after hearing the track titles, I guessed my ranking of the album, my top five being “Vigilante Sh*t,” “Karma,” “You’re on Your Own, Kid,” “Mastermind,” and “Question…?” 

‘Midnights,’ as mentioned previously, came out on October 21st at midnight and I absolutely love everything about the album. Every lyric is beautiful, the overall sound is amazing, and the album itself is very cohesive: it fits the theme of “thirteen sleepless nights” across her life, just as it was described to the public prior to its release.

Additionally, if you know her music and albums well enough, you can tell which musical “era” each song was written in. For example, “Karma” and “Vigilante Sh*t” were 100% written around the same time she wrote ‘Reputation.’ 

However, this album was nothing like what I predicted. Many people were predicting it would be a rock album, but it was electro-pop. I thought “Mastermind” would be similar to the two previously mentioned ‘Reputation’-esque songs, but it was more similar to something you’d hear on ‘1989’ or as a ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ vault track. 

I will discuss individual reviews for each song in the album (from my least favorite at the time of writing this article to my favorite at the time of writing this article).

Thirteenth on my ranking, and second in track order, is “Maroon.” I thought it would be significantly more melancholy and sad than it was (specifically with the general sound of the song), however the song was more floaty and upbeat(ish) than I thought it would be. However, when predicting, I felt like it would be a meh song based on its title, and it was amazing. While it was my lowest, I don’t have a single critique for it. 

“Midnight Rain,” twelfth on my ranking, and sixth in order of the album, was a shock for how it began, but again, a happy surprise. The concept of the song (“he was sunshine I was midnight rain”) was not what I expected it to be, yet I’m very happy this was the song we received. I really enjoy the floaty, breathy, higher way certain lyrics are said. 

Eleventh on my ranking, and twelfth in track order, was “Sweet Nothing.” This song, unlike the majority of the album, was similar to my prediction. It was good, but as I prefer upbeat songs over slower, sadder, more melancholy ones, I ranked it lower than most of the songs on this album even though it was a very good one.

Tenth was track ten on the album; the song “Labyrinth.” While I absolutely adore both the production and lyricism in this song, it doesn’t compare to that of which the higher ranked songs have. This song, as well as any of the other ones on the album could move up or down at any point. However, it currently isn’t one of my absolute favorites from this album.

The first track of the album, “Lavender Haze,” is ranked ninth for me. This is because the music behind it is great, but in my opinion, several other songs on the album are better lyrically and show more depth than this song. However, as she described it in one of her Instagram Reels, it accomplishes her feelings about fans and other members of society trying to get more information about her relationship with her current boyfriend from the past five years, Joe Alwyn. For example “I’ve been under scrutiny, you handle it beautifully,” shows how he’s helped her ignore and overcome the media’s portrayal of her and also has overcome what the media has said about him in relation to her. 

The second music video she released, eighth in my ranking, ninth track on the album, and the basis for a major dance trend is “Bejeweled.” My understanding is that this song is about her transition back into pop music from her past few albums (‘folklore’ and ‘evermore’) which were essentially the opposite of previous genres she’d done. 

Seventh in my ranking is “Snow On The Beach (ft-ish Lana Del Ray).” This song has been the most major switch from a lower ranking to a significantly higher one thus far as it started out being last for me. I originally had it lower because it didn’t feel like a collaboration and I didn’t have an understanding of the song, nor did I find anything to relate to. However, after listening to it more I really appreciate both the well-crafted lyrics and the music that truly feels like snow on a beach. 

In sixth place was “Question…?”  I love the main idea of it and while this may not be her intent with the song, to me it feels like it’s about someone who found someone they truly loved and enjoyed being with, but it didn’t work out and that person found someone new, so the first person found someone new too, and that new person feels like they’re second best to the original partner. Hopefully, that sentence made sense. 

Track five and, coincidentally, fifth place for my ranking, is “You’re On Your Own, Kid.” Taylor is known for having very emotional track fives, and up until the bridge, it didn’t feel like it was up to that usual level of raw emotion (especially with “Anti-Hero” as a potential alternative). However, the bridge completely changed my mind. Another thing I’ve seen pointed out by fellow fans is that it feels like a rundown of all of Taylor’s various albums over the years, which makes the bridge that much better. 

Fourth in my ranking is “Anti-Hero,” the first music video she released and the most streamed of the album thus far. Again, I feel like her description of it in her short Instagram Reel series was very accurate: it goes very deep into her insecurities and (as has been made clear by its amount of streams) is relatable to many people. The music video is also excellent at portraying those insecurities and all of the feelings she mentioned within the song.  

The song I ranked in third place is “Karma.” I love so many aspects of this song that I can’t even put into words. I think my favorite part of the song is probably “Karma’s a relaxing thought. Aren’t you envious that for you it’s not?” I think this is a hilarious way of showing how whoever of the many possibilities (Kanye West, Scooter Braun, any of the exes that treated her badly, everyone who turned on her in the mid 2010s) this song is about, they will receive their karma and it will hit hard. I also love that it’s called “Karma” as that was what was suspected to be the title of her sixth studio album.

Second for me is “Mastermind.” I love how sweet it feels, how hard she worked to be with someone she knew she’d work well with. I also love how it’s proven to be very relatable as it has sparked a trend of people explaining some unusual things they did to date someone. I also love the end in which she reveals that the person this song is about knew she did everything that she did to date him and he was completely fine with it. 

One of my favorite songs ever and my number one ranked song on the new album is “Vigilante Sh*t.” I absolutely love every single part of this song and am of the belief that there are absolutely no flaws to this song. Some of my favorite lyrics are “don’t get sad, get even,” “lately I’ve been dressing for revenge,” and the entire echoey part in the middle of the song prior to its continuation. It’s everything I hoped the song would be and more. 

However, as you may know if you have prior knowledge of this album’s release, Taylor Swift didn’t only release these songs. Three hours following its initial release, she added seven more songs to what she called ‘Midnights (3am Edition).’ This had the initial thirteen songs followed by the seven additional ones: “The Great War,” “Bigger Than The Whole Sky,” “Paris,” “High Infidelity,” “Glitch,” “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” and “Dear Reader.”

The new version of the album had the same cover, but was now an hour and nine minutes instead of the initial forty-four. Since I’m going with the assumption that the thirteen individual reviews were already very tedious to read through, I will simply say that my favorite of the additional tracks was “Bigger Than The Whole Sky” and my least favorite was “Glitch.” Overall, I mostly preferred the initial tracks, but again, I don’t have any major criticisms for any of the songs on the normal edition or the 3am edition. 

In addition to this, Taylor Swift also had three additional songs on the Target exclusive lavender vinyls and CDs; “Hits Different,” “You’re On Your Own, Kid (Strings Remix),” and “Sweet Nothing (Piano Remix).” I absolutely love “Hits Different” and if I were to add that into my album ranking, it would likely be somewhere in the top five. 

I also decided it would be fun to ask my friends for their opinions because of the ones that didn’t listen to it of their own volition, the majority succumbed to peer pressure and listened to it eventually. Yay! Jo Knorr says, “I’m not a massive Taylor Swift fan, but I really enjoyed this album, ‘Karma,’ ‘Vigilante Sh*t,’ ‘You’re On Your Own, Kid,’ ‘Sweet Nothing,’ and ‘Anti-Hero’ immediately went on my playlist.”

Brogan Frey, another friend of mine who chose to listen to the album without my forcing her to do so, said, “I wasn’t a huge fan before—I wasn’t a die-hard fan, but I enjoyed her pop music—but I loved every song on this album and I’m still listening to them weeks later, and they’re all on my playlist.” 

Additionally, Ava Bird said, “Personally, I don’t really like most of Taylor’s recent albums, but ‘Midnights’ is different. It’s beautiful. The music is amazing, the lyrics are thought-provoking, the whole entire thing is sort of like an emotional rollercoaster. I love it.” 

Additionally to being loved by people I know, this album was loved nationwide and broke many records. It was the first album to take all top ten songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the first time in history that the top ten had no men on it. It also passed Madonna’s record of thirty-eight top ten songs of any woman in history, achieving forty. 

It broke records both for most first-day streams and most second-day streams. It also was the third-largest streaming week for any album and the largest of any female artist. 

According to Billboard, it received 1.578 million forms of the album sold in the United States over the course of the first week, which, according to Entertainment Weekly, “It is the biggest week for any album since Adele’s ’25’ notched 3.482 million in its first week in 2015.” 

In addition to those, it also received the most vinyl sales since Harry Styles’ ‘Harry’s House.’

With this album on all streaming platforms also came many new options for purchase: various editions of vinyls and CDs as well as several different merch lines. 

Each vinyl/album has five editions: moonstone blue, jade green, blood moon, mahogany, and lavender. Moonstone blue is the original standard edition and jade green, blood moon, and mahogany are similar musically, they simply have different pictures within the vinyl and on its cover. The lavender, however, as I mentioned earlier, has three bonus tracks. These vinyls also come in CD form with the exact same differences as with the vinyls. 

So far, Taylor Swift has had three merch lines released. The “Lyric Collection,” “The Midnights Album Shop,” and the “A Color I’ve Searched For Collection.” Of the three, I personally found the items from the “Lyric Collection” to be the most stylish and aesthetically pleasing. In fact, this is the collection I chose to order merchandise for. The main “Midnights” shop has various items such as tools to make the four vinyls into a clock, a “Bejeweled” bracelet with colors for each of her albums released thus far, and a “Midnights” water bottle. the “Lyric Collection” had, as you can likely assume from the title, various types of clothes (shirts, crewnecks, hoodies, and a mug) inspired by or including various lyrics from songs on her album.

On October 24th, Taylor Swift went on “The Tonight Show” to discuss her album. In the interview, she also mentioned she would be going on tour, but would not yet disclose when she would do so or officially announce dates. She also went on to discuss the recording process and how each song she wrote was made. 

So, back to the tour topic. 

On November 1st, she announced “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour” along with her US tour dates. She will have thirty-three appearances throughout the country, stopping in Minneapolis at US Bank Stadium on June 24th. Tickets will be available to the general public on November 18th, at 10am local venue time. Signups for pre-sale are open until November 9th at 11:59pm ET and if you are selected, ticket sales will be on November 15th. 

With her, on the tour, will be nine different openers including Paramore, beabadoobee, Phoebe Bridgers, girl in red, MUNA, HAIM, GAYLE, Gracie Abrams, and Owenn. Specifically for the Minneapolis date, her openers will be girl in red and Owenn. 

Another detail of the tour is that it is sponsored by Capital One. Thus, if you have a Capital One card, you will also get early access to tickets (only four hours after those with pre-sale). She also partnered with Capital One for a commercial in which her various eras appeared throughout to show different things you can do with a Capital One card. 

TL;DR: “Midnights” is an amazing album and you will love it, so you should definitely go listen to it if you’re considering doing so. 

For more information, visit taylorswift.com, streaming services to listen to her album, any of her social media accounts, and also streaming services so you can listen to her album. 

Sports schedule for: Nov 7-12

6:00pm Girls Swimming and Diving Section PrelimsSt. Catherine University
6:00pm Girls Diving FinalsSt. Catherine University
6:00pm Girls Swimming and Diving Section FinalsSt. Catherine University