From the classroom to the parade: How Bell Hill Academy students prepared for the Chinese Lunar New Year |

From the classroom to the parade: How Bell Hill Academy students prepared for the Chinese Lunar New Year

Jeannie Wood
Special to The Union

Education is more than reading, writing and ‘rithmetic! At Bell Hill Academy in Grass Valley, local history and celebrations have been included in the student’s studies, such as with the upcoming Feb. 9 Chinese Lunar New Year Festival and Parade in Nevada City. Melissa George’s second grade “Bears” have been studying Asia in their Global Studies curriculum and have used this event as a means to actively engage outside of the classroom.

Her students have been studying cultural traditions and customs of Asian countries such as India, Japan and China. More recently, their focus has been on New Year traditions in America and China.

To prepare for the Lunar New Year Parade, the students have been studying lunar new year celebrations in Asia, as well as in other parts of the world, the Chinese zodiac animals of the lunar calendar, feasting on dumplings, oranges and tea, making lanterns and banners to spread good fortune, and creating dragon dances and twirling ribbon routines.

Using chopsticks for handles, students will twirl six feet of ribbons in four traditional patterns, as others set the beat with percussions along the parade route. The performance is made sweeter by Xiao Mao (Little CATS Culture Club), the youth group under Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra, who came into the classroom to help transform these Bell Hill “Bears” into “Rats” with the creation of masks for the parade.

The community looks forward to their parade unit of almost thirty students and seeing how their studies have “morphed” them into an active, engaging “rat pack!”

CATS is pleased to see the anticipated outcome of this event, through education and culture, forming memories for Bell Hill students.

Jeannie Wood is executive director as well as marketing director for Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra (CATS).

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