Program engages students at SHS, HBHS in Chinese culture

Celebration features traditional dance, food


Students enrolled in the Chinese program have found themselves working closely with those students in the program at Springdale for the Chinese New Year Festival and with it working to build an intercity relationship with Springdale High.

“This is an opportunity for anyone who is interested in Chinese culture to come taste, see, hear, smell and participate in Chinese culture right here in Springdale, Arkansas,” said Michelle Fries, the Chinese teacher at both high schools.

The festival will offer food, traditional dances, and more to provide celebration for the momentous occasion and an opportunity for all people to learn of one of the largest cultures in the world.

“It’s given me a chance to learn about Chinese culture and immerse myself in it,” said junnior Ashley Strickland who is participating in the Traditional Women’s’ Fan Dance and the intramural Dragon Dance.

She looks forward for the event and the opportunity to further her knowledge of the culture by being able to witness and talk to people about the traditions that will be followed at the event.

“I just love [the schools working together] because we’ve been meeting together for months preparing,” Mrs. Fries said. “At first the students were a little hesitant to go on the other campus, unsure of how they would be received by the other students and i think everyone has been pleasantly surprised that they’ve been welcomed and befriended. I feel like my students have gained an education about what the other school is like, giving them more insight on how we are more alike than different.”

For the Fan Dance, girls have met every Sunday at a church in Fayetteville to perfect their moves. The Dragon Dancer are on a similar schedule, practicing every Monday to work as a team and with their over 10-foot long dragon. Between the two dances, there are 15 students from both schools and a teach performing side by side.

“I think that we’re improving our friendships and showing that even though we are rivals, we do stand together. We are Springdale,” said junior Leyda De La Cruz who has found lifetime friends working with the Springdale students for the Traditional Fan Dance.

She was nervous for the first rehearsals of the reaction of the springdale kids because of the intense rivalry but her anxieties were quickly subsided upon meeting the kind students involved in the program.

“It’s nice to get to know the students from the other school because we all live in Springdale, and we should work with each other instead of against,” Strickland commented.

The Festival will be held at Marsha Jones Performing Arts Center on Jan. 26. Dinner will be served at 4:30 p.m. with performances at 6:30 p.m.

“As the world is becoming smaller and people are gaining access to things that are happening across the world,” Mrs. Fries said, “being able to speak a language like Chinese, which is spoken by more people than any other language in the world, that just gives these students that are studying Chinese here an advantage because they could possibly be employed locally.”