MONTVILLE, NJ - As graduation was being planned for the Montville Township school district, a special virtual ceremony was held on June 14 for the students of the Northern New Jersey Chinese Association Chinese School (NNJCACS).
“I hope everyone is well and staying safe,” said Karen Cortellino, member of the Montville Board of Education. “It certainly has been a challenging year. I admire your resilience, your flexibility, and your grit for powering through. For sure, this class is destined to do great things. Congratulations to the class of 2020. Good luck to the next chapter of your life and may you live in not such interesting times.”
NNJCACS is a non-profit organization, based at Montville High School, which has become a venue for local Chinese children and community members to learn traditional Chinese culture and language for more than 30 years. The NNJCACS was first founded in 1981 as a Chinese school affiliated with the North American Mid-Autumn Association.
At NNJCACS, students learn a variety of fun stuff, including karate, chess, life creative, badminton, dance, rattle, abacus mental, children’s drawing and craft, computers, along with Chinese history, human geography, calligraphy, dancing and singing, folk art, customs and ethics. There is also encouragement for students to engage in various community services in the township and beyond as well as summer camps.
The NNJCACS currently educates about 200 students in Chinese culture and language, from pre-k to the tenth grade. For the 2020 graduation ceremony, which was held virtually with about 100 people tuning in, a total of 10 tenth grade students finished one chapter in their lives and are ready to write another one. These students included Iris Chang, Elaine Lau, Ting-Yu Lee, Daniel Lei, Dillon Shelton, Kaylie Shelton, Tiffany Tang, Katherine Wu, Vivian Yam, and Moses Yang.
NNJCACS Principal Douglas Liu thanked all of those in attendance at the closing ceremony and for their perseverance in completing classes online since March 15 when the pandemic shut-down in person school.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate all students whether you are graduating or are not graduating but going to another level," Liu said. "Today is a special day for 10th grade student’s graduation ceremony. They have been coming to NNJCA Chinese School every Sunday for at least the past ten years. I really admire these students’ perseverance and dedication to their education. Please keep up this spirit for your career in the future.”
Liu spoke to the graduating students saying, "Please do not think today is the end point. Instead, think of it as the starting point of another level on your journey. We must take a good grasp of today, to meet a new future as well as to overcome any obstacles and challenges that come your way. Do not forget what you have learned in the Chinese School. Try to utilize this learned skill to further your life status such as in your future job.”
“I would like to give you a word which I often tell my college students in the classes I teach," Liu continued. "If you want to get a hundred on the exam, you will need to give at least one hundred and twenty percent of your effort in the preparation stage. It is a common misconception that by preparing with one hundred percent of your effort, you think you will get a hundred on the exam. But things may not be as you wish because you may not cover all the material. In fact, there may have been a lot of problems you have not even considered. Therefore, I am here to encourage you to prepare a hundred and twenty percent if you want to get a hundred score on the exam.”
Liu concluded by saying, “I want to thank all the teachers and the members of the administrative team. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for your selfless efforts. The graduating ceremony ended perfectly. Thank you very much. This year's contribution has made me feel the warmth of our school. Just like a family, everyone helps and supports each other. I would also give many thanks to teacher Bright Lin, for your enthusiasm and contribution to the competition outside the school. I am very grateful, and it is my honor to work with the teachers and the administrative team. Thank you very much for your help. I hope that in the future, with the encouragement and guidance of all guests and everyone, NNJCACS will be able to flourish.”
Among awards and recognitions highlighted during the ceremony, the Appreciation Certificate for the PTA recipients were Terence Lin, Dina Yeh, Kim Gailus, David Yam, Jerry Chen, Coral Chu, Yvonne Kuo and Janie Wu.
Furthermore, this graduation marked the last year for Liu as NNJCACS principal, who has held the position for the past two years. The reins of the Chinese School have been handed down to new principal Dina Yeh.
“I want to thank Principal Liu for his contribution over the past two years not only as his successor but as a parent as well,” said Yeh. “Thank you for creating a safe and welcoming environment for all of our students. Your communication, compassion, and commitment to the well-being of our Chinese School community is invaluable and truly makes a difference for all.”
Yeh thanked the devoted teachers "for taking the time to help the Chinese School Community by sharing your knowledge of both language as well as the culture. We know how important it is to teach our children their native tongues, by doing so, a sense of identity and belonging is being instilled in them, and at the same time, teaching them to accept and be proud of their heritage and upbringing.”
“Because of your contributions, all of the children in our school get to know their heritage and have the chance to appreciate the beauty of the Chinese Culture and language. So thank you and thank you again!” Yeh said.
“I am very excited for those who are graduating today. This graduation is such an unforgettable one that all of us will be talking about for years to come," Yeh continued. "It’s so unique that it's online and it’s the first one that I've ever seen in my lifetime. I know all of you work hard so you deserve it. I am very proud of you and I am sure your parents and teachers are all proud of you too. Congratulations and best of luck to all of you!”
Liu concluded, “I also want to encourage all of our students who are still in school to continue learning Chinese language and culture. And last but not least, please stay safe and have a great summer. Looking forward to seeing you all in our school again in September. Thank you!”
To learn more about the NNJCACS, or to enroll into its classes or summer camp programs, visit the school's website at http://www.nnjcacs.org.
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