Staff and students of the Hunting Hills High School Mandarin Program are busy prepping for the annual Chinese New Year Celebration, set to run Feb. 11th at the school.
Complete with a banquet which includes sweet and sour pork, chicken chow mein, fried rice, beef and broccoli and spring rolls amongst other dishes, plus several performances including music, singing, drumming, dancing and drama, the popular community event, which has been put on for the past 15 years, is also featuring members from the Red Deer & District Chinese Community and the Red Deer Chinese Christian Church, said Sandy Cai, a language teacher at Hunting Hills. Packed with lots of colour, energy and artistic expression, it’s officially known as the Sounds of Spring Gala.
“I like the students to be involved so to learn more about the Chinese culture. By being involved, they also develop their leadership skills. They also are being trained to contribute, to volunteer and to help people more as well,” she said. “So that is my number one goal.
“Second, I believe that the more you give, the more of a harvest you will gain.”
Organizers have also set a goal of raising $2,000 for the Red Deer-based Central Alberta Refugee Effort (C.A.R.E.) to help out with the settlement of Syrian refugees in the community.
The banquet begins at 5:30 p.m. with the show slated to start at 7 p.m.
Besides putting a performance together, Cai also pointed out that preparing for the production is something of a rich learning experience as well.
“They’re learning through the songs, and with the dramas it’s the same thing – they learn the culture. They not only learn ancient Chinese history and literature, it helps with their own language skills as well.”
It’s also something of a collaboration with the Red Deer & District Chinese Community Society, she said, in terms of sponsorship and the featuring of artists and musicians in the show as well. Last year, about 500 people attended, she said.
Meanwhile, Grade 12 student Tony Senesouma, 17, is enjoying being a part of bringing the event to fruition.
“All around, it’s just a whole cultural experience,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, but at the same time it doesn’t really feel like work because it’s a lot of fun.
“China has such unique aspects to it, so I’m hoping that people come in thinking this is going to be something unique and different from the western world. I hope they leave thinking, ‘That was more than what I expected’.”
Students and staff – not only from the mandarin program – have been collaborating on the event for the past several months. “We start planning early on, but it’s about a month before it happens that things really kick into gear,” he said, adding that the preparations provide a bit of stress relief during exam time as well because everyone is having a good time putting the finishing touches on every aspect of the performances.
Advance tickets for the show ($6 each or four for $20) can be picked up at the Hunting Hills High School bookstore, Arby’s at Bower Place Shopping Centre, the Asia Chinese Restaurant, Chinese Massage, Red Star, Babycakes Cupcakery (144 Erickson Dr.), and various Chinese restaurants throughout the City.
Tickets are also available at the door for $6.
As mentioned, there is also Chinese New Year Banquet prior to the performance as well – tickets are $20 for the supper, which includes the show as well. They must be purchased at the school.