By Keira Chen (III)

On February 16, the annual Lunar New Year assembly was held as a combination of pre-recorded and in-person performances in Hauser. Most students watched from their advisories, enjoying the various performances and more, as the event strived to provide an experience “just as good as in previous years.” Typically, the Lunar New Year celebration includes multiple performances by students and guests alike, such as the Dragon Dance performed by Middle School Chinese classes. There are also festivities after the assembly, such as a buffet of Asian food brought by students, games, and presentations having to do with the holiday. However, due to the pandemic’s restrictions, Pingry had to get creative with this year’s assembly. Recorded performances by many students were edited together into a video, with the entire assembly hosted by Milenka Men (IV) and Charles Jiang (IV).

The event started out with the Taiko Drumming Club performing Matsura, a traditional Japanese piece, in Hauser Auditorium. Then, students from both the Middle and Upper School made their appearances in the assembly video as they sang, danced, and more. The Plum Blossoms was sung by Vinav Shah (II), and The First Day of Lunar New Year was recited by Jasmine Zhou (Grade 6) with Ava Maloney (Grade 6). Ram Doraswamy (V) and Natalie DeVito (V) sang a contemporary song by Teresa Teng called “Tian Mi Mi” (“Sweet on You”) together. Zoe Wang (V) and her mother performed a cello and piano duet for the popular Chinese folk song “Mo Li Hua” (“Jasmine Flower”), which was followed by clips of students singing, dancing, and playing instruments to the viral song “Xue Hua Piao Piao.” A guest performer, Gao Hong, was invited to the assembly and played a song called “Dragon Boat” on the pipa, a traditional Chinese stringed instrument. The assembly closed out with various faculty, staff, and students saying “Happy New Year” in multiple languages.

The assembly was successful because of the hard work World Languages Faculty Member Weiwei Yu put in, as well as most of the Chinese teachers. Students from the Taiko Drumming Club, East Asian Affinity Group, and Chinese classes also helped bring the assembly to fruition. Franklin Zhu (V) said that “[his] role was to approach students, faculty, and administration to have them try to say a celebratory phrase in Mandarin.” When asked about the assembly’s importance, Zhu explained that the assembly “provide[d] Asian Americans a platform to celebrate their culture, [which] allows us to be seen at Pingry.”

The students’ impression of the Lunar New Year assembly was generally positive. “I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the different expressions of art in the assembly,” Sarah Gu (III) said, “and I really appreciate all the hard work that went into its creation.” According to Zhu, “the fact that many people…showed enthusiasm was very heart-warming.”

In the midst of the ongoing pandemic and the recent rise in AAPI hate crimes, it’s more important than ever to gather together and celebrate as a community, even if not all of us could be together in person. Despite the constraints, Pingry found a way to honor cultural traditions and create an assembly everyone could enjoy. Happy Year of the Ox!

Taiko Drumming Club performing Matsura