Return to Headlines

Higley students celebrate Confucius Classrooms

With flare and festive sounds of music and dance, students of Higley Unified School District joined together for a celebration of Confucius Classrooms this month.

The third annual event at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts included students of all ages studying Mandarin. Higley’s three Confucius Classroom schools – Coronado Elementary, Cooley Middle and Williams Field High – were joined by preschool students studying Mandarin at Cooley Early Childhood Development Center. Students took the stage to sing, dance, and demonstrate martial arts, all part of their culture lessons as Mandarin students in their schools.

The Confucius Institute at Arizona State University supports the Confucius classrooms and collaborates with Arizona K-12 schools to offer Chinese language and culture programs that match each schools’ unique strengths.

“For my own school, it’s been a wonderful relationship as we watch our students learn and grow toward mastery of Mandarin and a better understanding of the Chinese culture,” Coronado assistant principal Brian Griggs told the audience.

New to the stage this year was a showcase of students in Coronado’s Wushu Club. It is led by U.S. Wushu competitor Dusty Schmidt, a teacher at Higley’s Centennial Elementary School.

“Our students get to experience language learning both inside and out of the classroom in real-world settings. It was very encouraging to see so many people support our students in their endeavors. I am so proud of our kids being able to sing, do acrobatics, dance (and choreograph a dance!), play musical instruments, produce a video, and demonstrate Wushu prowess – all while speaking another language. Our students have a world of opportunity open to them,” Griggs said.

In addition to student performances, ASU invited several guest artists to perform and student artwork was on display. ASU also sponsored an art contest: “China in my eyes.” The kindergarten through second-grade level was won by Jycie Johnson. The third through sixth-grade level was won by Alexandria Portenier.

The evening’s brochure featured dragon artwork created by Cooley Cougar Destiny Miranda.

The night ended with the traditional Dragon Dance, this year performed by Cooley Middle School students.

“The HUSD Chinese New Year celebration is a great way to bring the Mandarin culture alive for our students. In addition to learning the Mandarin language in class, this also offers students the opportunity to learn some of the fun traditions in a hands-on format. What a fun night of performance and celebration to reinforce what students have been working so hard on during the school year,” Cooley Principal Shawn Varner said.

Students in all school levels can study Mandarin in the Higley Unified School District, with Coronado hosting the school’s dual language program. Middle school and high school students can take beginning to advanced and even college level Mandarin studies.