Armstrong School celebrates Chinese New Year
By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Westborough – The students at the Armstrong Elementary School were treated to the Diversity Council’s Chinese New Year Celebration during their school meeting Jan. 17. The morning began with the entire school assembled in the cafeteria for this educational program.
Third grade teacher Janet Hart is the chair of the Armstrong Diversity Council, which began in the spring of 2011. Assisted by John Mendes, the school’s principal, she helped to facilitate this cultural program, which is a way, she said, to help the children learn about and celebrate other cultures.
“By learning about other people and their traditions, food, language, etc., it makes the world a smaller place,” said Hart.
“Today is all about learning about some traditions and cultures of the Chinese people and celebrating the Chinese New Year,” Mendes said.
The program began with four young students saying “good morning” in Mandarin to the entire school and staff.
Lingling Zhang, Bingxia Wang and Jianwu Bai, parent volunteers who also helped to organize this program, led the audience in singing the Mandarin version of “Happy Birthday” to those students born in January. Students followed along with the phonetic words printed on the projection screen up on the stage. The students were also taught the song, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in Mandarin. Mendes also joined in, singing and participating to the music.
The Diversity Council parent volunteers also prepared a short slide show describing Chinese cultures and traditions as well as a video on Chinese games.
In the Chinese culture, this New Year is the “Year of the Horse,” Bai said. She explained to the children that this celebration is a way to have family gather together and celebrate with special foods and traditions.
“Kids get a red envelope filled with money. The Lion Dances are very traditional with fireworks. The noise is supposed to ward off evil. It signals the end of the Chinese New Year celebration,” she added.
The Diversity Council events have been very well-attended, Hart said, by both students and parents. There are usually three or four events each year. Other events have included the Chinese Moon Festival, Indian Diwali Festival and International Fair.
“I hope the students and staff realize that regardless of the country of origin, we all have more similarities than differences. The differences that other cultures have are worth knowing about,” said Hart.
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