Spring Festival Celebrated at Captain Nathan Hale Middle School
The Middle School in Coventry, Connecticut participated in a Spring Festival project funded through a CLP grant


Students at Captain Nathan Hale Middle School in Coventry, Connecticut celebrated Spring Festival this year. For many attendees it was their first time experiencing Chinese culture first hand. The festival was part of a Critical Language Project (CLP) organized by TCLP exchange teacher Gu Wenming and Mentor Teacher Deborah Page. The project involved a wide range of participation throughout the school including students from Gu Wenming’s Mandarin classes and Chinese Enrichment Club, as well as students in related arts and culinary classes. All played roles in organizing and executing a school-wide assembly during the school day and a community festival in the evening to celebrate Chinese New Year. Both events included singing of Chinese songs, dances, and a variety of student performances centered on promoting the Mandarin program and cultural exchange at Nathan Hale Middle School.

As part of the CLP grant, preparations began in January, with a field trip to New York City for 50 students who were involved in the development of the events. The field trip included visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to view Chinese art and a tour of Chinatown where students practiced their conversational Mandarin skills. Students tried traditional Chinese food and purchased decorations for the festival. Students were inspired to create their own cultural products from their first-hand experience with authentic Chinese art and culture. Many students had never visited the museum previously and none had visited Chinatown, which made the experience eye-opening and enlightening for them. They used this as inspiration to develop their Spring Festival celebration.

The assembly and community festival featured a variety of interactive and exciting performances prepared or organized by students and staff. Students actually constructed masks and costumes for a lion dance set to music performed by students as well. The feedback from students, parents, community members, and Board of Education members of both events was reported as “exceptionally positive.” A display by Chinese acrobats was described as “thrilling” and the lion dance as “delightful.” All event goers took part in enjoying dumplings and traditional Chinese sweets. Younger students particularly enjoyed the Calligraphy station.

Along with students from Captain Nathan Hale, preschoolers and over 30 high school students participated in the events. Parents and community members also took part in the lively exchange of culture and language. A total of over 400 individuals attended the assembly and 150 individuals attended the evening event. Attendees at both events included district leaders, families, and members of the Board of Education that aided in raising the visibility of the Mandarin program at Nathan Hale, as well as showcasing its significant impact at the school. The school is eager to organize another event and field trip next year.

Click the video below to see more from the Spring Festival project!