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Chappaqua Class Closes Out Chinese New Year

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- After midterms forced Horace Greeley High School students to miss the beginning of the Chinese New Year on Jan. 23, teacher Polly Li promised her class she would make up for it during the holiday's final day on Monday.

"They’re excited about it," Li said. "We had to stop because of the midterms and now we can continue. They didn’t forget about the dumplings, because I told them today we’re supposed to eat the food."

Students in Li's class were treated to dumplings after decorating her classroom with paper lanterns. The lanterns are part of the traditional celebration that accompanies Yuan Xiao – the Lantern Festival – which is the 15th and final day of the Chinese New Year.

Li said she often incorporates Chinese culture into her lesson plans to help students with understanding the language. “They’re quite excited about the culture,” Li said.

Students that wanted to eat dumplings had to do so using traditional chopsticks. To practice for the dumplings, Li separated students into groups that attempted to pick up peanuts with the chopsticks.

Li has been at Horace Greeley since the school introduced Chinese into its curriculum four years ago. According to Li, the program, originally for upperclassmen, was made available to freshmen and sophomore students in 2010-11.

“There have been very few drops,” Li said. Her class on Monday consisted of freshman and sophomore level one students, and she is excited for the opportunity to teach them throughout their high school careers.

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