MONTVILLE, NJ - Last Sunday, prior to the Super Bowl, there was a different kind of celebration happening at Montville High School. There, the Northern New Jersey Chinese Association Chinese School (NNJCACS) held their annual New Year Assembly where about 400 people gathered to celebrate the Chinese New Year, also known as the Year of the Pig, which begins on February 5.

NNJCACS is a non-profit organization that has provided a venue for Chinese children and community members to learn Chinese traditional culture and language for more than 30 years. The NNJCACS was first founded in 1981 as a Chinese school affiliated to the North American Mid-Autumn Association. The school is based at Montville High School, and has a total of about 200 students, from pre-K to high school grade.

Among certain classes at NNJCACS, student learn subjects such as karate, chess, life creative, badminton, dance, rattle, abacus mental math, children's drawing and craft, computers, human geography, calligraphy, dancing and singing, folk art, customs, ethics and, of course, Chinese history. Students are also always encouraged to partake in various community services in Montville and beyond.

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The NNJCACS also hosts summer camps during summer vacation, which are for children aged between six and fifteen. And last Sunday, it was the beginning of a new year in local Chinese culture in Montville.

"Dear guests, parents and students, our annual Lunar New Year is coming again," said NNJCACS principal Douglas Liu. "Our NNJCA Chinese School, with a happy mood, everyone to help, prepare together, and warmly welcome the coming of the Lunar New Year. Here, I would like to thank the President of the PTA for fully supporting our school, thanks to our administration team specifically thanks to our activity group, as well as the hard work of the teachers and students [who] study hard. As well as thanks to the distinguished guests who participate, sponsor and support the New Year celebration. I would like to thank you all, I wish you all a happy New Year, a good life and making everything come true."

And the Year of the Pig began on a very big and loud high. Spectators were treated to an array of Chinese dancing, singing, chanting, and even karate demonstrations and a trivia buzzer game, performed in Chinese and English, and by students of all grades, from pre-k to high school.

"What we have here in Montville is truly remarkable," said Karen Cortellino, a member of the Montville Township Board of Education, who has attended the Chinese New Year Assembly for the past 10 years. "A more than 40 year history of shared culture and friendship, we choose to celebrate and learn from our differences. Happy New Year! Shin yen qui leur!"

At one point during the New Year Assembly, awards were given out to several students. This included the 2019 Presidential Volunteers Services Awards, which is granted to students who have conducted a number of community services. This year's recipients included Alyssia Liu, Amy Wu, Amy Yang, Erica Chung, Evonne Iman, Isabella Hu, Karen Han, Karen Shih, Katherine Chen, Michelle Wang, Pauline Kung, Sheryl Peng, Charlize Chen, Tony  Jiang, Timothy Liu, Moses Yang, Kevin Liao, Jonathan Wang, Humphrey Chen, Hugo Tan, Gene Lu, Eric Hu, Danny  Zhang and Andrew Hsieh.

"This school brings unity, joy, better education and promotion of Chinese multi-culture and friendship," said Margaret Lam, a past NNJCACS president and founder, who serves as an advisor to the school. "Performing makes the children happy, and for some it's a dream come true. On top of that, there are many people helping each other; old students with the new students, old teachers with the new teachers, etc."

Following the awards, more music, singing and dancing continued until eventually spectators headed for the cafeteria for food and drinks. By the afternoon's end, the crowd dispersed and headed home, wishing everyone around them, Asian and Caucasian, "Xin Nian Kuai Le!" Happy New Year!

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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