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Students continue the tradition of learning about the holiday and Asian culture. 

In celebration of the Lunar New Year, Bolton Primary School students immersed themselves in classroom activities this month.

Starting Feb. 1, the school kicked off 15 days of activities to honor the traditional holiday and celebrate the year to come. The Lunar New Year is celebrated by Asian cultures and is a time to honor ancestors, reflect on the past year and ring in the year ahead.

Learning and honoring Asian cultures is not uncommon at the school, as Bolton Primary is part of the West Linn-Wilsonville School District's world language program offering Mandarin Chinese classes for its students. This year also was extra special, as the school will offer a new dual-language program starting with kindergartners this fall, said instructional coordinator Siri Anderson.

In their classrooms, students participated in arts and crafts like making lanterns and learning traditional Lunar New Year songs. Anderson said the students enjoyed the activities, especially learning more about the zodiac animals. The lunar holiday is associated with the Chinese zodiac, which assigns animals to specific years in a 12-year cycle. The year 2022 welcomes the tiger, which symbolizes courage, bravery and resilience, according to the Chinese Language Institute.

"The students had so much fun learning about the zodiac and the different years. Kids would ask: 'What year is my brother?' or learn what animal they were associated with," Anderson said.

For the older grade levels, the festivities were a replay of prior years. But as the school paused celebrations last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, younger students experienced the long-standing tradition for the first time.

"Some of our youngest students learned how foundational this celebration is in other places, and meaningful to families. Sort of like the traditional Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter are to some of us," Anderson said.

During recess, fifth graders worked in rotation to operate the Bolton Dragon, a life-size paper dragon.

"The fifth graders did an amazing job of showing respect for Chinese culture, making sure all of our students were included and having fun," Anderson said.

The school will end the two-week celebration with classroom readings of the book, "Nian, the Chinese New Year Dragon" by Virginia Loh-Hagan and Timothy Banks.

The book is a retelling of the legend behind Chinese New Year traditions. Nian, the lunar dragon, comes out of hiding every year and terrorizes a village. The villagers then band together to scare away Nian until the following year using loud noises and red clothing, which is supposed to ward off evil spirits.

Anderson said during the reading, students are encouraged to make loud noises to scare away Nian and bring luck in the new year.

"Next year we hope to bring back the celebration — bigger than ever and a community celebration," Anderson said.

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