Chinese New Year celebrations took place at Harrogate Grammar School last week, with a vibrant display of kung fu and dance. The school, students and parents/carers celebrated the Year of the Tiger with a colourful showcase of food and culture.
Mandarin teacher Richard Barnard, who spent several years living in China, explained:
New Year is all about togetherness, eating with the people you love and making wishes. They also embrace traditions such as spring-cleaning your house, making dumplings and setting off red sky lanterns.
Deqing Chen, Director of Jinlong Culture and Performing Arts Ltd, was MC for the event and performed a mesmerising Tai Chi solo demonstration. Two dances by a five-strong group incorporated balletic kung fu moves, while a female trio performed a graceful fan dance.
Adrian Stipetic, Faculty Leader of Modern Foreign Languages, said:
As language teachers, our role goes beyond teaching students as many foreign words as possible. We want to immerse them in the rich backstory of these countries. It’s so good to be able to offer wider cultural experiences. Chinese is such a fascinating subject to learn with the characters, calligraphy and a very different history.
Richard Barnard added:
Mandarin might be quite complex to learn, compared to European languages, but that’s what makes it’s so rewarding. It also helps students build on their skills in other languages too. And, of course, being the world’s most spoken language makes it a huge asset to young people. It’s growing more popular at school, with around 70 students attending Chinese lessons, both in clubs lower down the school or in the GCSE class in Sixth Form. Between them they have a great bond, and for me it’s lovely to see them stick with it, from year 8 up to turning 18.
Neil Renton, Headteacher at Harrogate Grammar School, said:
It was a pleasure to see in the Chinese New Year with the Jinlong Culture and Performance Arts team. A huge thank you to them for putting on a fantastic show. We are really proud to teach Mandarin and to be the first school in Yorkshire to achieve Confucious Classroom status back in 2015. It reflects our genuine desire to provide our students with the best opportunities for language learning.
In January 2015, Harrogate Grammar School became the first Confucius Classroom in Yorkshire. This new partnership between the school and the Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds makes the school a hub for the joint planning of cultural activities and the sharing of ideas and resources to stimulate the learning and teaching of Chinese language and culture.
All students have the opportunity to study Mandarin Chinese as an additional subject from Year 8 and can work towards a GCSE qualification. Those joining the school at Sixth Form can also study at beginner’s level.