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Garden Road Students Learn, Celebrate Chinese New Year

YORKTOWN, N.Y. — A courageous young girl held her unwavering hand forward, clutching a red envelope before dropping the envelope in the beast’s mouth and snapping her hand back quick enough so as not to be eaten by the lion in front of her.

Her classmates followed suit, waiting eagerly for their turn to feed the animal before dropping it and pulling back with excitement and some anxiety. This “lion” was actually made up of two men from Kwan’s Kung Fu in Peekskill and they were only wearing a traditional costume to show the students at the Garden Road School lion dance to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

While the purpose of the actual dance and celebration is to celebrate the Chinese New Year, it was the celebration of the student’s weeks of learning spent on China.

“We started some new things this year, one is with the preschool we are doing world culture immersion, so for the past two weeks they have been studying China,” said founder Donna Mikkelsen. Part of the students’ learning is learning to cook and eat foods from the area they are learning about, learning to count in the language, learning words like “hello” and other basic foundational information about it.

“We also started something else that’s new this year, which are our CSE’s, which stand for community supported education, which is an opportunity for parents to get involved in the curriculum to help enrich the curriculum and be more integral in the going-ons of the school,” Mikkelsen said.

The parent who took the reins on this project for China is Brenda Chan, who has two sons, one in the preschool and another in the elementary school.

“I think having something interactive like this is a great way to enrich the curriculum and it’s a great way for not only the kids to see what’s out there in their own local community, but also see other historical and more traditional things and what they saw was a very traditional Chinese dance as part of their celebration.”

The visitors from Kwan’s Kung Fu danced in the lion costume, entertaining the children and also telling them the story of why it’s done.

“It was great because not a lot of people will always go out to parades to see a dance or parade like this, so it really brought everything right up to the kids—the dance, the history and the story itself,” Chan said.

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