Hunting Hills High School students and members of the Red Deer Chinese Community Society are putting the finishing touches on this year’s Chinese New Year Celebration.
The event runs Jan. 20th in the school’s Gym 1, with display booths opening at 6 p.m. followed by the New Year show at 7 p.m. Guests will enjoy plenty of music, singing, dancing, drama, as well as be able to take part in a silent auction featuring student art work as well.
Admission is $6 per ticket or there is a package price of $20 for four tickets. Tickets are available in the main office or the school’s book store.
The popular community event, which has been put on for the past 16 years, features students from the Hunting Hills Mandarin program under the direction of language instructor Sandy Cai. Packed with lots of colour, energy and artistic expression, it’s officially known as the Sounds of Spring Gala.
Besides putting a performance together, Cai also pointed out that preparing for the production is something of a rich learning experience as well.
“We all work together in terms of planning it,” said Grade 10 student Jaira Poole, adding there will be a Tai Chi presentation this year as well. “There will also be several songs with some of the other classes.”
There are also three short plays, and of course elaborate costuming plays a key part as the various parts of the overall production unfold. Poole said she’s always had an interest in Chinese culture in general and in the Mandarin language in particular.
“When I came here, and it was offered as a class, it wasn’t a question of whether I was going to take it or not. I knew immediately.”
She added the compelling aspect to Chinese culture stems, in part, from its broad, rich, colourful and ancient history.
As to the coming gala, Poole said it’s nice to see it all come together after the students have been working on it for the past several months.
“People from around the school come to see it, parents, families, and friends. They can really see the pay-off of this class we are taking,” she explained, adding that students have been working on the aspects of the production since last fall.
Luka Trpevski, also in Grade 10, has enjoyed the process of seeing the performance take shape.
Like his classmates, he finds elements of Chinese culture to be fascinating.
“It’s so completely different from our culture,” he said, adding the expansive history is in itself compelling.
As to the gala, Trpevski said it’s a great opportunity for the audience to enjoy a taste of the diversity and uniqueness that defines Chinese culture. “It’s a fun time – you get to see a different side of the Red Deer community and experience a different culture.”
Meanwhile, Cai said her class is more than just instructing students in their language studies. She’s always been interested in providing her students with cultural and artistic opportunities as well as they explore the culture.
“It’s a celebration,” she said of the gala. Cai had been guiding the productions along all these years, and clearly finds it a fulfilling endeavor year after year.
She also emphasized that artwork from students will be on display at this year’s event as well. “I want to show audiences their talent – through drama, singing and painting.”
Ultimately, the event is always something of a collaboration, too with students from other programs and the community at large.
“I love my students, so I want them to be on the stage,” she added, smiling. “I also want to encourage their confidence.”