Old Bridge School District Rings in the Chinese Lunar New Year in Style!
On February 11th, the Old Bridge High School National Chinese Honor Society presented its first Chinese New Year Gala. Chinese New Year (新年), also known as the Spring Festival (春节), has been celebrated for thousands of years to bring forth luck and to welcome the beginning of spring in China. The inaugural event marked the first of its kind at Old Bridge, with over 200 invited guests. As is tradition, the festivities included a lion dance, dragon dances, fireworks, song and much more. Students, teachers and community came together to delight in sight, sound and taste of the 5000-year cultural festival.
Led by high school Mandarin Chinese teacher Shanman Liao, the evening's goals were to celebrate the New Year while bringing family and friends together through food and festival. The dinner was prepared by parents, students, teachers and local catering establishments. Guests were delighted with authentic creations to appeal to every taste from scallion pancakes and dumplings to steamed buns, fried rice, and more! As is customary, the round tables had red cloth along with flower arrangements symbolizing family and reunion. Chinese history holds to a long history of traditions involving specific foods, colors and types of events to be celebrated. Students and community learned that China ushers in positivity with the dawn of a new spring each year; the red color is especially auspicious during this traditional celebration.
The audience, who included district and school administrators - Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Cittadino, Director of Arts and Culture, Ms. Keiller, high school principal, Dr. Sasso and vice principals Ms. Fazio, Mr. Masarik, Mr. Oliveri and Mr. Bill - were delighted by special performances beginning with a greeting dance by two oversized lions to officially welcome the New Year. Special guest performances included Lina Liu's Umbrella dance and stunning acrobatics display as well as the Chinese Mask-Changing act which was met with delight. During an interactive portion of the program, Ms. Liu invited volunteers on stage to practice and perform a plate spinning activity. Students performed dances, songs, poetry recitation and followed along as Ms. Liao led a brief Tai-Chi lesson with volunteers from the audience, as well. Guests listened to C-Pop Dance selections and watched a special yo yo presentation. The evening was punctuated with a special greeting in Mandarin from each of our administrators, again highlighting the importance of traditions in China. Each administrator gave a good fortune wish, emphasizing the beginning of the spring season.
As a final performance, the Chinese AP class performed Beijing Welcomes You, (北京欢迎你) to show gratitude and appreciation to their teacher, "Liao Laoshi" as she is affectionately called by her students. Liao Laoshi, along with Min Chen, Ying Yang, Iris Wu and Nancy Lo - teachers of Mandarin Chinese across the district - collaborated to bring the evening's events to life. Their hard work and dedication to students, district and community cannot be overstated. Each educator worked tirelessly to make it a success.
The global landscape is evolving; to ignore its interweaving, multi-faceted, transcultural layers would be unacceptable today. The Chinese lunar new year event was a celebration of just that: the blending and acknowledgment of 5000+ years of history, tradition, language, nuance and culture. Old Bridge High School's Chinese classes celebrated the Lunar New Year by bringing celebrated guests, students, staff and community together, raising awareness of Asian heritage while showcasing talent at all levels. We value diversity and fostering a culturally rich community. By showcasing talent representing our diverse world, we are certain we will continue to forge ties and build bridges within the world.