Red Bank Regional High School Principal Risa Clay tentatively pets the Lion who danced for the RBR students in celebration of the Chinese New Year. The Lion dance was performed by Jersey Shore Chinese School students Steven Yuan and Anthony Lu.
Press release from Red Bank Regional High School
On January 31, the Day of the Chinese New Year, Red Bank Regional High School was festooned with signature red paper decorations welcoming the multi-talented Jersey Shore Chinese School students to celebrate and educate RBR students on Chinese custom and lore.
The celebration of The Year of the Horse was part of a policy at RBR, where Chinese has been offered as a course for the past six years, to “immerse our students in the culture of the languages they study,” in the words of RBR World Language Supervisor Rob Donohoe.
The program was organized by the RBR World Language Chinese teacher Chinyun Wu, who is also a long-standing teacher at the Jersey Shore Chinese School. During the event, which was aptly emceed by RBR Chinese language students Kobe Miller and Kevin Zheng, an amazingly agile giant paper lion danced upon the auditorium stage with footwork mimicking a prancing beast.
Kevin, who was born in China and took the RBR Chinese class to learn Mandarin, since he speaks the dialect of his small village. Kevin and his fellow students were incredibly impressed with the Chinese school’s performance and states, “They got the audience really involved and I think it will encourage more students to take Chinese next year.”
During the program, RBR students enlightened their peers on the customs of the holiday. Relating the Story of Nian, Houston Migdon and Anna Hernandez, explained how Chinese villagers were terrorized every year by the monster Nian until they learned his fears of loud noise and the color red to scare him away. Today, Chinese families still celebrate the New Year with red paper decorations and fire crackers.
Dillon Butler and Hayley Rienzo related the origin of the Chinese zodiacs, whereby an Emperor, who sought a new way to measure time, commissioned a race among the animals. The first 12 animals to finish the race had zodiacs named for them. This year, commemorates the Year of the Horse, one of the 12 finalists. The students also explained the types of food prepared for the New Year including tangerines which represent luck, and noodles for a long life, and dumplings, little envelopes to keep money, for wealth.
Exquisitely choreographed dances — the Tibet Dance and Paper Cut Out Girl—were flawlessly executed by the beautiful dancers from elementary to high school age. The audience was also treated to the skill of the young yo-yo masters who could make a concave tin can sing on its string. The program concluded with a Dragon Parade that wound around the audience on its way to the stage, led by Principal Clay and assisted by World Language teachers and students.
“My students (both the RBR and Chinese School students) were really excited to do this,” said Chinyun Wu. “We hoped that all the students learned about the Chinese culture as we celebrated the Chinese New Year.”