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Surrey schools celebrate the Year of the Rabbit for Lunar New Year


Schools across the district are sharing messages of hope and prosperity as they ring in the Lunar New Year ahead of official celebrations on Sunday, Jan. 22.

Across Canada and around the world, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and other East Asian communities are marking the beginning of Lunar New Year, with this year being the Year of the Rabbit. To celebrate, schools are educating students on Asian cultures through lesson plans and activities to highlight and better understand the significance of the Lunar New Year.

“The term ‘New Year’ is celebrated so differently in so many different cultures,” said JB Mahli, Director of Instruction for Racial Equity. “It is such a special time for students in our schools to share their cultural identity and their recognition of ‘New Year’ and  how it looks a little bit different in their households with families, and ultimately common threads many of us have.”

Mahli said elementary schools are decorating with the colour red, which is often used to symbolize good health and fortune, as well as happiness, vitality and success.

“Those are values and messages that we have across cultures, and I think everybody loves to participate because we have a common thread in a lot of our values and beliefs and we learn to appreciate them because they resonate with us as individuals,” said Mahli.

coast-meridian-lny-1.jpegCoast Meridian Elementary students made cardboard dragons as part of their Lunar New Year celebrations.

Hillcrest Elementary continued its tradition of teaching all of their students how to lion dance, and sing a traditional Chinese folk song “Ai Hai Yo,” something that has taken place through the Hillcrest halls for the past 15 years.

“Their music teacher, Ms. Bugden along with other staff and parents, have done a fantastic job – they go room by room singing a song, and they’ve done it for so long that every student in the school knows the song,” said Mahli. “They start outside so parents are able to participate and they all sing together. What a fantastic way to have some cross-cultural experiences and connections.”

Many schools have been learning about Lunar New Year through week. At Newton Elementary, for example, students made bunnies during arts and crafts to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit. Rosemary Heights Elementary and Ray Shepherd Elementary are hosting a marketplace where students can buy trinkets, learn calligraphy, and enjoy a variety of different foods. And at Coast Meridian Elementary, students celebrated by learning about the Chinese zodiac and making a variety of related crafts, including large cardboard dragons typically used in traditional dances.

“Our teachers, school staff, principals, vice principals are fantastic at finding ways to mix hands-on activities and make learning fun and playful, while connecting it deeply to values that we want them to espouse to,” said Mahli. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for us to create a sense of belonging in our schools and bring to light our core competencies in our curriculum.”

We wish you all a happy, healthy and safe Lunar New Year!

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