By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury High School’s (SHS) National Chinese Honor Society (NCHS) recently hosted an event at Sherwood Middle School, “Under the Chinese Lanterns,” which was a fun family night with food, games, crafts and student performances celebrating Chinese culture. The event also was a way of celebrating a very successful first year in existence at Shrewsbury High School.
“The event turned out to be a great success and there is strong interest from the community to make it a yearly event,” said Faculty Advisor Yan Liu. “I think our world is more connected than ever. It is increasingly important to be multilingual, to be open to different cultures, as well as to appreciate differences. This is the core message that the Chinese National Honor Society in SHS wants to convey.”
The National Chinese Honor Society was established in 1993 to recognize accomplished high school students who study Chinese as a world language. Its mission is to encourage its members to become life-long learners to gain a better understanding of Chinese language and culture, and to play an active role as constructive peacemakers in the 21st century.
In a recent conversation with NCHS officers Johnny Wu, president, and Amanda Frost, secretary, both juniors who have been studying Chinese since they were in sixth grade at Sherwood, explained that they were part of the team that registered the Shrewsbury chapter with the national organization based in California.
To become a member of the Honor Society, a student needs to be either a junior or senior and must have been taking Chinese their freshman and sophomore years while maintaining a B+ grade average in Chinese. The Honor Society meets monthly and has 25 dedicated members. Information about how to apply is presented at the beginning of the school year to the student body as well as to eighth graders in the spring. The group also offers a weekly tutoring service to middle school students.
“We have an awesome Chinese program in Shrewsbury,” Liu said. “I have parents and teachers from other districts expressing how surprised they were by how well our students speak Mandarin. In fact, last year’s seniors who wanted to take Chinese in college were told to skip a semester or a year since they were advanced in the language.”
“‘Under the Chinese Lanterns’ was a fundraising idea that the group came up with which would help spread Chinese culture through the community and showcase the Chinese programs at the middle and high school levels,” Frost added. “We don’t learn just the language, we also learn about the culture.”
Wu noted that “anyone was welcome at our event but we were focusing on middle-schoolers and fourth-graders specifically to get them excited about their future path.”
Both middle and high school teachers were present to answer any questions about the curriculum.
Frost became interested in learning Chinese because it was different and it could potentially affect her career choice of teaching. Wu wanted to connect more with his own culture and prepare for his future as he plans on focusing on Chinese Studies in college. Frost will be traveling to China with the NCHS during April break while Wu plans on traveling at a later date.