MONTVILLE, NJ - “Happy New Year - 新年快樂” was the greeting of Northern New Jersey Chinese Association Chinese School (NNJCACS) students as they welcomed their guests who came to see the school’s annual Lunar New Year celebration at Montville Township High School on Sunday.

NNJCACS is a Taiwan based school founded in 1981. It is a leading institution in bringing Chinese language and culture courses to students in northern New Jersey. Classes are held at Montville Township High School every Sunday.

At the Lunar New Year celebration, students from preschool through grade 10 participated by singing, dancing, and acting. The performances ranged from the Dragon Dance by grades 9 and 10 to a Karate performance by all ages.

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Jean Kang, teacher of Zhuyin, a course on Taiwanese phonetic symbols, was the Master of the masters of ceremonies (MCs). Student MCs were Kaylie Shelton, Amanda Hsu, Audrey Gailus, Michelle Kuo, Daniel Hare, Matthew Kuo, Gabriel Au, Max Cotter, Vera Tsang, Miya Shelton, Evelyn Hare and May Cotter. These students wove together the presentations with Chinese and English explanations. 

During the ceremony, details were given on Chinese culture and traditions. For example, the Dragon and Lion Dances are performed to scare off evil spirits. Traditional foods, such as dumplings, spring rolls and fish broth, are eaten for wealth and prosperity, and the traditional red envelopes are given for good luck and to ward off evil spirits. The color red is also a symbol of energy and happiness. Putting money in the red envelopes is thought to bring happiness and prosperity on the receivers.

The second graders dressed up as the 12 Chinese zodiac animals used to represent a 12 year cycle. This year is the Year of the Rat. Other animals are the ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. The rat is the first of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac.

The Lunar New Year is also known as the Chinese New Year and the Spring Festival.

An important part of the day’s festivities is the presentation of the President’s Volunteer Service Awards. Tina Liu, who counsels students on their service projects, said, “All kids who receive these awards work very hard learning Chinese and American culture. Their service projects are involved in serving all people, not just the Chinese.” Liu stated, “I have three children who have received awards, and one of them received an award today.”

To be eligible for a teen gold award, a student must volunteer services up to 100 hours or more, for a silver, 75-99 hours and for a bronze, 50-74 hours. 

As for young adults, to receive a gold award, one must volunteer 250 plus hours, for a silver, 175-249 hours and for a bronze, 100-174.

The President's Volunteer Service Award recipients for Young Adults are: Gold – Amy Yang; Bronze – Alyssia Liu, Charlize Chen, Evonne Iman, Gene Lu, Karen Shih, Naitian Zhang, Sabrina Chou, Shenghan Tony Jiang, Timothy Liu and Yuhan Jiang.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award recipients for teens are: Gold – Eric Aoyu Hu, Erica Chung, Hugo Tan, Humphrey Chen, Michelle Wang, Moses Yang, Olivia Chou, Pauline Kung and Sheryl Peng; Silver – Amy Wu, Athena Thai and Jessie Luo; Bronze – Evan Wang, Isabella Hu and Ryan Huang.

Douglas Liu, principal of NNJCACS, stated, “Our annual Lunar New Year is here again. Everyone at NNJCACS is preparing to celebrate this festive holiday. I would like to thank the president of the PTA and administration team for their support and efforts. I would also like to give special thanks to Sharon Chuang, as well as the hard-working teachers and students. Finally, I'd like to thank the distinguished guests who participate, sponsor and support the New Year celebration. I thank you all, and wish you a happy, healthy, successful New Year!

For those who speak Chinese:

“各位來賓,家長和學生,

我們一年一度的農曆春節又要到了,我們北新中文學校,以歡欣鼓舞的心情,大家一起幫忙,一起準備,一起以熱烈的心情迎接農曆新年的來臨。在這裡特别謝謝家長會長帶領家長會的全力支持,以及衆多家長們的協力合作,謝謝我們的行政團隊,特别謝謝活動組Sharon Chuang 的全力投入,還有各位老師們辛苦的教導,學生們用心的學習,以及各位來賓踴躍地參加,贊助和支持北新中文學校的新年遊藝會,在此我謝謝大家,祝大家新春愉快,萬事如意,心想事成。”

Jack Huang, director of the Culture Center of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, was an honored guest, as was Jimmy Chiang, a commissioner of the Overseas Community Affairs Council Republic of China (Taiwan). 

Dr. Karen Cortellino, vice president for legislation/resolutions of the New Jersey School Boards Association, was invited to speak. She said to TAPinto Montville, “I have been honored to be an invited guest to the celebration for so many years. The children do such a wonderful job, and the relationship between the school district and NNJCA is a model for cultural exchange throughout the state.”

Linda Keong, from Parsippany, has two children in the program. She said, “It’s wonderful to be with my family and enjoy our Chinese culture.” 

The four girls from one of the three MC groups spoke to TAPinto Montville. When asked about the program, Audrey said, “It was a great experience, and it was fun working together.” Michelle said that it was a “fun bonding time.” Amanda agreed that it was a fun experience and said, “I would do it all again.” And Kaylie said that it was fun. “We practiced a lot, but it was all worth it,” she said. 

Here, the emcee groups sing the finale meaning “Congratulations.”

After the performances, everyone was invited to the cafeteria where traditional foods could be bought, and all children were given the traditional red envelopes. 

NNJCACS offers classes at Montville Township High School every Sunday from 2:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. in Chinese as a Second Language (CSL) for Pre-K to 10th grade students from Chinese speaking families. They also offer CSL classes and CSL adult classes for students from non-Chinese speaking families and culture classes from 1:00 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 4:50 p.m. 

To see more photos of the event courtesy of the Northern New Jersey Chinese Association Chinese School, please visit https://photos.app.goo.gl/Nq5aD5osjtSAFLQq5.

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