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Ringing in the Year of the Pig at Lawrence Primary School

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“Gung hay fat choy,” the Cantonese phrase that literally translates to “wishing you great happiness and prosperity,” is a standard way of saying Happy New Year in China.

The Chinese Lunar New Year, marks the first day of a new Chinese calendar, which in the Gregorian calendar falls on the first new moon between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20.

This year, Feb. 5 marked the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, and the students at Lawrence Primary School at the Number Two School celebrated with a parade that included a dragon costume.

Each year has its own corresponding animal in the Chinese zodiac, and the kindergarten, first- and second-graders rang in the Year of the Pig with masks and noisemakers.

Dr. Maureen Schwartz, a kindergarten teacher, helped lead the efforts to make this a larger event. She said teachers would often do individual programs, but they had not done a parade at this school.

Schwartz introduced her students to Chinese culture and even taught them how to use chopsticks. “Our school’s social emotional learning focuses on kindness, self-control, empathy, grit, integrity, and embracing diversity,” she said. “The Chinese New Year parade is a culminating activity that brings us together to celebrate all the above.”

When asked what she learned about China, one of Schwartz’s students, Valeska Villatoro, cited the traditional dance they learned as her favorite part. “My favorite part [of the parade] was the dragon,” she said.

Superintendent Dr. Ann Pedersen said that they like to use this parade as cultural learning project. “Especially in primary school,” she said. “They’re learning about themselves, their community and the world in general. It’s great to help them reach out to a different area of the world.”