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West Hartford Students Enjoy Celebration of Chinese New Year

King Philip Chinese teacher Zhengjie Guo poses with a student at the Chinese New Year celebration on Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Sixth grade students at West Hartford’s King Philip Middle School celebrated the Year of the Rat on Friday, Feb. 7, at a festival that included food, music, and much more.

Volunteers paint an elaborate design on this sixth graders face. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

The sixth grade gym at King Philip Middle School was a hive of activity Friday afternoon – but the sounds, smells, and sights were not what you would expect to find in a school gymnasium.

Just after the school day ended, more than 100 sixth graders gathered in the gym for the school’s fourth annual Chinese New Year Celebration.

There was food galore – Chinese and other Asian dishes like egg rolls, pot stickers, pork, and rice – donated by West Hartford restaurant, face painting, ping pong tournaments, music, dance, traditional Chinese games like tangram, Chinese calligraphy lessons, and lantern painting.

The event was held on the last school day before the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, the traditional date for the Chinese Lantern Festival which marks the last day of the New Year celebration, and many students took the opportunity to adorn paper lanterns with Chinese characters and other designs.

While some students opted to eat with forks or their fingers, there were also chopsticks available, and some experts who taught the students how to use them properly by practicing picking up M&Ms and pieces of popcorn.

A traditional Chinese dance performed by a visitor from East Culture Arts. This King Philip sixth grader had an elaborate design painted on his face. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Performers from East Culture Arts, a local nonprofit dedicated to increasing the awareness of Chinese culture through the arts, entertained the crowd with many traditional dances.

Students could also don traditional Chinese clothing and accessories, and pose in front of the green screen so they could print out photos with a variety of backdrops.

Chinese teacher Zhengjie Guo, who organized the annual festival, said there are now about 200 students overall who take Chinese at King Philip, including about 80 sixth graders spread among four classes.

“The program is steadily growing,” King Philip Assistant Principal Justin Gusy said.

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Dancers from East Culture Arts. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

King Philip alumni, now Hall students volunteer and dress up in traditional Chinese attire and pose in front of the green screen. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

This King Philip sixth grader had an elaborate design painted on his face. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Calligraphy on a lantern. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

King Philip Assistant Principal Justin Gusy (left) with Chinese teacher Zhengjie Guo. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Food donated by local West Hartford restaurants. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Students learn to use chopsticks by picking up M&Ms and popcorn and transferring them from one plate to another. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dancers from East Culture Arts. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Lantern painting. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Students watch the dancers from East Culture Arts. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Chinese teacher Zhengjie Guo with students who are getting dressed in traditional Chinese attire. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dancer from East Culture Arts. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pot stickers and egg rolls donated by a West Hartford restaurant. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Volunteers hand out traditional Chinese food. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Volunteers paint faces. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dancers from East Culture Arts. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Students enjoy ping pong. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Lantern painting. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Performer from East Culture Arts. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dancers from East Culture Arts. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Students learn to use chopsticks by picking up M&Ms and popcorn and transferring them from one plate to another. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Students enjoy ping pong. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Volunteers paint an elaborate design on this sixth graders face. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Students watch performers from East Culture Arts. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Posing at the green screen. King Philip Chinese New Year celebration. Feb. 7, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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