Thanks to the hard work and collaboration of teachers, students and parent volunteers, Ravens in all three divisions were able to join in the celebration of the Lunar New Year last Friday, enjoying music and dance, demonstrations and hands-on activities, delicious cuisine — and the excitement and sense of community that come with sharing cultural traditions.
“I enjoyed seeing everyone participate in the Lunar New Year festival,” Jin Jeong ’25, an Honors Mandarin Chinese III student who performed in the dragon dance, said. “This was a very big deal for me because I come from a Korean family, so I celebrate it every year. It was very nice seeing other people not from the culture celebrate it with us.”
Originating in multiple countries in east Asia, the holiday is filled with rich culture and tradition that centers around the hope for good fortune and prosperity. According to the Chinese zodiac, which is based on ancient Chinese mythology, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit.
Chiu-Ping Lin and Yi-Wen Liu, who teach Mandarin in the Middle School and Upper School, respectively, oversaw the planning for the school’s exploration of this holiday and enjoyed collaboration and support from volunteers with the Global Parent Ambassadors. Students enrolled in Mandarin courses and the Upper School Pan Asian affinity group also played a major role, participating in performances as well as leading activities and demonstrations.
Lin and her students helped prepare for the celebration by making decorations for the Middle School and visiting the fifth-grade center in advance of Friday’s activities to share their knowledge about the upcoming holiday.
“I presented the information about what Lunar New Year is, what the 12 zodiac animals are, what we do, what we eat, how we celebrate and what not to do during Lunar New Year time,” Lin said. “After the presentation, the fifth-graders were led by my students to make crafts.”
“A friend and I led the rabbit origami station in Ms. Lugo’s classroom, since this is the year of the rabbit. We practiced making the rabbits ahead of time until we could basically do it by memory,” Mandarin I-A student Gabby DiNome ’28 said of her involvement. “I really liked watching the kids play a true/false game with Ms. Lin, because they were so excited to get called on and very hyped about the possibility of receiving a red envelope as a prize.”
“The activity I led was putting together a red envelope. The envelope was made out of paper and on the back, it had the Chinese character for ‘luck,’” classmate Vivienne Phillips-Shaban ’28 said. “Getting to share a really cool holiday and increasing the knowledge of fifth-graders about the Lunar New Year was truly special.”
Friday’s celebration started off with a dragon and panda parade for Lower School students, getting them excited and curious about upcoming events. Later in the morning, they were able to visit activity stations in Pugh Lobby of the Fine Arts Center that explored Lunar New Year traditions and stories, calligraphy, origami and Chinese games.
“As symbols of Chinese culture, the dragon represents good luck, strength, health and power, and the pandas are Chinese national treasures,” parent volunteer Julia Wen explained. “The dragon and panda parade brought joyous and best wishes across the Ravenscroft campus.”
During their long Lunch/Community Time block, Middle and Upper School students enjoyed a dragon dance, a bamboo dance, a tai chi fan dance and other performances by students in Warner Arena as well as a delicious lunch reflecting cuisine from Asian cultures. The activities in Pugh Lobby continued into the afternoon as well, and students had the chance to attend a kung fu workshop, learn about the animals of the zodiac, play games and sample food brought by parent volunteers.
“I loved the dragon dance and parades, particularly when the PreK and Kindergarteners were parading right after the dragon,” GPA member Kathy Wu said. “It was adorable and also a very beautiful moment. With the bamboo dancing, it warmed my heart to see all the students were so eager to participate in the activities.”
“The joy on the faces of Ravencroft’s students was the happiest moment since the pandemic,” fellow parent volunteer Jeong Yeo said. “I hope the Cultural Festival in March will be even more successful.”
Liu said she, too, was very proud of how much interest and enthusiasm she saw in participants.
“I’ve been organizing Lunar New Year celebrations at Ravenscroft for four years, and this year is the first time I feel the full engagement of our community,” she said. “I appreciate our students’ and parent volunteers’ hard work to make this happen. This will be a great year for all of us!”
The community’s response was equally meaningful for students who celebrate Lunar New Year as part of their cultural heritage.
“Participating in the Lunar New Year celebration was really cathartic,” Catie Chua ’26, a member of the Pan Asian affinity group who participated in the dragon dance, said. “I am half Chinese-Filipino, and for the majority of my life, I had no way of connecting or observing an important part of myself. Seeing so many people come together and put effort into an event like this helped me rekindle my cultural side.”
“It shows me how much society has grown,” Jin added. “I know we still aren’t perfect; however, seeing kids celebrate a different culture’s traditions and holidays made me very happy and proud of my culture.”