MONTVILLE, NJ - The Northern New Jersey Chinese Association Chinese School (NNJCACS) held a special graduation ceremony for it students at Montville Township High School in June.
"I am always honored to be here and with you," said Karen Cortellino, member of the Montville Township Board of Education. "Montville Township Public Schools and the Northern New Jersey Chinese Association have a very long and valued relationship. I believe, and perhaps many of you believe, that it's a model for many. I’d like to congratulate the graduates today, but especially the teachers and all of you, the parents, without whom your children wouldn't be where they are right now."
NNJCACS is a non-profit organization, based at Montville High School, that has provided 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.
Among certain classes and programs, students are able to learn karate, chess, life creative, badminton, dance, rattle, abacus mental, children's drawing and craft, computers, and of course, 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. The Chinese School further hosts summer camps.
The NNJCACS currently educates 180 students in Chinese culture and language, from pre-k to tenth grade. For the 2019 graduation ceremony, a total of nine students of the tenth grade reached the end of one journey, and soon began another. Many students couldn't wait to begin that new journey as the excitement of graduation was fueling their inner zen.
"Graduating definitely feels great," said tenth grader Ethan Hu, from Denville, who has attended NNJCACS for 8 years. "I've learned a lot from this school since second grade. It was all a nice experience."
Hu's classmate, tenth grader Olivia Chou, from Parsippany, felt the same experience as she walked on the high school's auditorium stage, in front of over 400 people.
"I feel super accomplished because I've been in the Chinese School since I was four-years-old," said Chou, who has attended NNJCACS for 11 years. "It's just really nice. I feel everyone should try another language and it's important for the other kids to push through."
Both Chou and Hu intend to be teacher assistants at NNJCACS for the younger grades. Both also plan to celebrate with friends and relatives. Chou has even decided to take another trip to Taiwan!
Several honor awards and scholarships were given out to students.
- For the Mrs. Lucy Chang Memorial Scholarship/AP Chinese, recipients included Evonne Iman, Sheryl Peng, Bryan You, Sabrina Chou, and JoAnn Liu.
- For the Mrs. Lucy Chang Memorial Scholarship/SAT II Chinese, recipients included Bennett Chang, Humphrey Chen, Ethan Hu and Iris You.
- For the Daniel Chou Merit Student Scholarship, recipients included Bennett Chang, Humphrey Chen, Moses Yang and Iris You.
- For the Principal Dingyi Li Community Service Scholarship, recipients include Humphrey Chen, Olivia Chou, Erica Chung and Ethan Hu.
- This year's Merit Student was Humphrey Chen, while the Honor Student was Ethan Hu.
Awards and honors were also given out to NNJCACS teachers and staff. This included Teacher's Service Award for both Laura Foo (for 25 years) and Gloria Mou (for five years). Mou was also the recipient of the Faculty Service Award. For the Teacher's Merit Award, recipients included Jennifer Sun and Coco Sung.
Graduation Diploma Certificates and Proficiency Test Certificates were presented by NNJCACS principal Douglas Liu, to students Isabella Hu, Ethan Hu, Iris You, Humphrey Chen, Erica Chung, Olivia Chou, Adrian Huang, Sophia Lee, and Bennett Chang.
The video below shows the graduates toss their caps to conclude the graduation ceremony:
Among other awards, there were the PTA & TA Appreciation Certificates, which went to Dina Yeh, Kim Gailus, Janie Wu, Yvonne Kuo, Terence Lin, David Yam, Jerry Chen and Andie Lam. For the 2018 NCACLS Culture Common Sense Competition, the first-place recipients in the senior group were Laura Fu, Joan Wang, Victoria Wei, Pauline Kung, Bennett Chang, Moses Yang, and Humphrey Chen. And for the 2018 NCACLS Multimedia competition, first place recipients of the senior group include Bright Lin, Moses Yang and Humphrey Chen. For the 2019 ACS Grouping Singing Competition, the winners include Janet Liu, Bright Lin, Humphrey Chen and Lee Berat. Lin and Berat were also winners of the Chinese Bridge Speech Competition at Maryland.
But aside from the awards and honors, there was of course a great display of Chinese culture. Throughout the ceremony, there were school videos, music and dancing, karate demonstrations and even a performance involving Chinese yo-yos.
Following the graduation ceremony, the crowd dispersed into the high school cafeteria for food and refreshments. And of course, friends and relatives took the time for countless photo opportunities. NNJCACS principal Douglas Liu couldn't be happier by the buzz generated from the graduation.
"First of all, I would like to congratulate all students whether you are graduating or have not graduated but are going to another level," said Principal Liu. "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 continued, "For those students who are graduating 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. 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 hundred on the exam.
"I want to give many thanks to the school's administrative team and teachers for their wonderful efforts. I want to give thanks to our PTA members for their assistance under Dina’s leadership. Finally, I would like to give many thanks to our students’ parents. Without your support and persistence, we would not be able to have today's graduation ceremony. Thank you all very much," Liu concluded.
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.
COVER PHOTO: First row VIPs (left to right) Charles Chang, Maylin Huang, Shinwen Lin, Jimmy Chiang, Joe Yang, Deputy Director Tiyu Yeh, Principal Douglas Liu, Board of Education member Karen Cortellino, Daniel Chou, Nelson Tai, Laura Foo, Tahsin Chou. Second row (left to right) students Jennifer Sun, Bennett Chang, Sophia Lee, Adrian Huang, Olivia Chou, Ethan Hu, Erica Chung, Humphrey Chen, Iris You, Isabella Hu, and 10th grade teacher Charles Chen
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