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    Dearborn Park International School Dance Troupe Helps the District Celebrate Lunar New Year
    Posted on 01/29/2020
    A group of students dances in traditional costumes for a Dragon Dance for Lunar New Year on a school stage

    Dearborn Park Student Dance Troupe Helps the District Celebrate Lunar New Year

    On January 24, students at John Muir Elementary were treated to a Lunar New Year performance by the Dearborn Park International School Dance Troupe. Directed by Helen Zhou, Dearborn Park performing arts educator, the performance marked the second of seven stops across the district where the dance troupe performed their Lunar New Year program.

    Students, educators, and families packed into the John Muir cafeteria to watch kindergarten through 5th-grade students from Dearborn Park perform a variety of dances which honored Asian American, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, and Vietnamese cultures.

    The cultural diversity of the Lunar New Year performance reflects the diversity of the Dearborn Park student body, with students’ cultures and ethnicities represented in the program. Allowing students to express themselves and celebrate their cultures through dance helps create safe and welcoming school environments, a goal of the district’s five-year strategic plan Seattle Excellence.

    This year, Lunar New Year celebrations welcomed the beginning of the Year of the Rat, the first of the Chinese zodiac animals. To celebrate, the kindergarten and 1st-grade students performed the "Happy Mouse Dance." The other student performances ranged from traditional Chinese dances, Korean-Pop dances, martial arts, and more.

    A Vietnamese and Chinese lion and dragon dance was also performed, featuring colorful dragon and lion costumes that students worked together to bring to life. Dragons and lions are believed to bring people good luck and fortune, and they are commonly used to celebrate the new year.

    During the 50-minute program, students clapped and cheered for the talented student performers. For one of the final performances, the performers had the audience stand up and join them in dancing and singing.

    Over 100 student dancers participated in the Lunar New Year performance, and approximately half of the student body in Dearborn Park participate in the dance troupe throughout the year. Students volunteer their time for the dance troupe, rehearsing for months — even giving up their recess time — to put on an amazing show. Many of the students have participated in the program their entire elementary school career!

    Helen Zhou has directed the Lunar New Year performance for nearly 20 years and it’s clear that she has it down to an art. She has been with Dearborn Park International School since 1999 and started touring the Lunar New Year show across the district in 2002. Thank you to Helen and her tireless work to make the show run efficiently and effectively, while also making the students feel valued and excited to perform. Her work continues to be extraordinary and the hours of work she puts into making the dance troupe and performance such a success are incalculable.

    Thank you to the Dearborn Park International School Dance Troupe for sharing their talents, the Lunar New Year Committee, and all of the classroom educators, staff, PTA, and parent volunteers who helped make this performance a success. The power and tradition of dance can teach us many things — most notably, it can teach us about the diverse and vibrant cultures of others and allows all of us to celebrate that rich diversity throughout the district.

    What's for Lunch?

    A special Lunar New Year lunch menu was also created and served by the Nutrition Services team. The menu included duck spring rolls, vegetable chow mein, and locally-crafted fortune cookies.

    Lunch tray with egg rolls and noodles

    Learn more about Dearborn Park International Elementary School

    Learn more about what's for lunch at Seattle Public Schools

    Learn more about our five-year strategic plan, Seattle Excellence.