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Celebrating the Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year began Feb. 14 this year. To celebrate 2010 -- the Year of the Tiger -- the Ha Family Lion Troupe visited Oltman Middle School on Feb. 19 to share "aspects of the Chinese culture with students and staff," according to a press release. The Chinese New Year celebration is a time for family reunions, visiting friends and closing out the old year, said Chloe Lu, Oltman Mandarin language teacher. The festivities traditionally are celebrated for 15 days, Lu said. Lighted lanterns, firecrackers, dancing and parades of lions and dragons are interwoven throughout the days of celebration. Part of the Ha Family presentation was the Lion Dance (shown above at right). The lion, a symbol of power, wisdom and good fortune, chases away evil spirits and brings happiness and good luck for the year. Most Lion Dances include Kung Fu movements and large drums.

At Cottage Grove Middle School, Mandarin Chinese teacher Lin Ching Nieh organized a day of student performances on Feb. 12 to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Students selected songs and created dances to accompany them. One class performed a traditional Chinese New Year song, "Gong Xi Gong Xi," which shows the excitement and anticipation of the coming of spring. Another class performed a dance to a rap song called, "Zhong Guo Hua." Eighth-graders (right) danced to the song, "Kung fu Fighting," created by Claire Dietzsch and Ellen Stein.