HURRICANE — Three Falls Elementary School recently hosted its annual Chinese New Year assembly, where students from all grade levels put on a show with dancing, singing and even Kung Fu skills.

One of the classes sing at the performance in Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 7, 2024 | Photo by Bridger Palmer, St. George News

“Three Falls Elementary is a Chinese dual immersion program,” Principal Jennifer Eggleston told St. George News during the event held last week. “Each year, we strive to include all students in the Chinese culture.”

The goal for this year’s performance was to allow everyone to immerse themselves in a Chinese art experience, from students, staff and community members.

She said the school has award-winning teachers on staff.

“Jing Li, our third grade dual immersion teacher, recently won the National Chinese Expo of Student Works by submitting last year’s Kung Fu performance,” Eggleston said. “There were over 100 entries from around the nation, and our students won.”

Li is recognized by not only her bosses but her colleagues as well.

“Li Laoshi and her students have been working on learning Chinese songs since she believes songs help enhance language acquisition in a delightful and immersive way,” said fellow instructor Eva Li. “She also has a passion for sharing Chinese culture within the community so she took her students to perform at Red Cliffs Mall during the Christmas season.”

The five Chinese dual immersion teachers pose for a photo in front of parents and faculty in Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 7, 2024 | Photo by Bridger Palmer, St. George News

But for Jing Li, it’s the students who deserve all the credit.

“I’m immensely proud of our students’ performance,” she said. “Their dedication, enthusiasm and hard work were evident in every step of the performance. It was heartwarming to see them not only embrace the language but also delve into the cultural significance of the celebration.”

The Chinese Year of the Dragon runs from Feb. 10 to Jan. 28, 2025. The dragon holds a revered place in Chinese culture, and particularly during Chinese New Year, as it symbolizes strength, good luck and auspicious power, Eggleston said.

“The dragon’s presence inspires us to face challenges with resilience and stride confidently into a future filled with prosperity and success,” she said.

Then the performances began. Each song was performed in Chinese by the students. The first grade classes performed “Happy New Year” and “You Look Nice when You are Smiling.”

“As first grade kids, it is their first year to learn Chinese. I am so proud of them because all of them are risk takers,” said first grade teacher Biyu Chen. “I hope they’re happy learning and have a good experience learning the Chinese language and culture.”

The second grade classes performed “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands” and “Planting in My Garden.”

“I am so proud of my students,” second grade teacher Mao Laoshi said. “I think cultural events like this help a great deal for the students building connections with the dual language program that they’re in. It’s a Very good way to engage parents as well.”

The third graders sang and danced to “The Moon Palace,” “Youthful” and “The Red Sorghum Farmers’ Model Team.”

Students from Three Falls Elementary School perform a dance from Chinese culture in Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 7, 2024 | Photo by Bridger Palmer, St. George News

“The cultural exchange embodied in this celebration goes beyond language acquisition; it fosters a sense of appreciation and respect for diversity,” said third grade teacher Eva Li. “Witnessing our students confidently present aspects of Chinese culture further reinforces the importance of such cross-cultural initiatives in education.”

Fourth graders sang songs like “My Sweetest Baby” and performed their moves with “Kung Fu Fan.”

“I think the performance was amazing,” Li said. “The kids did a great job and they really enjoyed it.”

Last but not least, the fifth-graders performed “Umbrella Dance” and the song ”I’m Sorry, My Chinese is Not Good.”

“As the teacher, I’m so proud of my students’ performance,” fourth and fifth grade teacher Yuhang Cheng said. “They did an amazing job showcasing their Chinese skills. I was also thrilled to see students and parents coming together to celebrate Chinese New Year, creating unforgettable memories and cultural connections.”

After the finale of the standing-room-only show, the students were met with a roar of applause. Then mayhem broke out when Eggleston took the microphone for an important announcement: free ice cream for all students, courtesy of Handel’s Ice Cream.

“That adds some extra joy for the students,” Eggleston said about the surprise sweet treat. “I am honored to be the principal of a Chinese dual school, and look forward to many more years.”

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