As part of their celebration of Catholic Schools Week, students at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy in Flushing observed the Chinese New Year with a variety of age-appropriate lessons and activities in their classrooms on Friday, Feb. 12.
The activities included studying Chinese artwork, the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, cultural and food traditions, as well as crafting lanterns and making dumplings.
“This year, St. Michael’s continues to celebrate the richness the Chinese culture brings to our academy,” said Maureen Rogone, principal of St. Michael’s Catholic Academy. “Although our activities are centered in each separate cohort due to COVID restrictions, the teachers and students showed much enthusiasm in preparing for the New Year. We look to celebrate as a whole community next year.”
In preparation for the celebration, students were encouraged to wear red or other Chinese clothing to usher in the New Year. The school followed the health guidelines and restrictions for social distancing with celebrations in each grade level cohort and not as a group assembly as done in previous years.
Each class showcased their artwork at the celebration.
PKA students focused on Chinese artwork while kindergarten and first-grade students learned about the importance of the Chinese zodiac animals and performed a traditional Chinese New Year song. Second-grade students learned about Chinese culture and the importance of food in relation to the geographic regions, as well as the importance of family gatherings and eating together.
Third grade students made lanterns and compared American New Year with Chinese New Year, and students in grades 6-8 infused the Chinese culture in their academic studies — the Silk Road in China and interpreting how Confucius’ wisdom can be applied to their lives.
The student body at St. Michael’s, located at 136-58 41st Ave., is approximately 70 percent Asian. Since 2013, the school has offered instruction in the Mandarin language to all students from pre-K through eighth grade.
For 170 years, St. Michael’s has welcomed immigrant families in the heart of downtown Flushing. Its immigrant population has shifted from predominantly European/Hispanic to Asian, primarily Chinese. The school’s most recent census indicates that its student body is almost 70 percent Asian, while maintaining a significant Hispanic population slightly under 30 percent.
In 2012, the academy applied for admission and was to the TWIN-CS (Two Way Immersion Network for Catholic Schools) with the Roche Center for Catholic Education at Boston College.
Since 2013, the school has offered a language immersion program with Mandarin. Currently, students in kindergarten through eighth grade receive instruction in the Mandarin language. PKA students are introduced to basic concepts in Mandarin.