The halls at a Vernon elementary school were noisier than usual on Friday afternoon, and for good reason: there’s no better way to welcome a dragon in your midst.
Students at Vernon’s Beairsto Elementary rang in the Lunar New Year with a day of Chinese festivities, which ended with a traditional dragon dance performed by the Grade-3 class of Anita Baturin.
“I do it every year,” said the Beairsto teacher whose drum beat invited students out of their classrooms to watch as she led the dance up and down the school’s four floors. “It’s part of my culture, and my parents are so proud of me that I keep carrying on with it!”
Baturin said her students have been eager to learn about the different animals in the Chinese Zodiac tradition. This year being the Year of the Rat, they’ve been comparing its traits and characteristics with the rabbit from the year they were born.
“I have three tigers who are a little older, and then me – Year of the Monkey,” said Baturin. “They like knowing about that because it’s different.”
The students have also learned about the differences between Chinese and Western celebrations of New Years – and found the Chinese celebrations to be a lot more impressive.
“When they learned that the entire country of China would shut down for three working days to allow families to go travel and celebrate, and the festivities last for 15 days, they were like ‘woah!’” laughed Baturin.
Baturin says she herself draws a lot of joy from leading the dragon dance every year.
“It’s like I’m reliving my childhood, and it feels really personal because I can share something about me with the children.”
Lunar New Year takes place Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020.