The debut of Glen Ridge High School’s new Chinese language program will be celebrated in a festive China Night event on Thursday, March 1, when school officials accept the first installment of a $30,000 grant and official recognition as a Classroom by the Confucius Institute of Rutgers University.
China Night marks the culmination of a long-anticipated dream — the inclusion of Chinese in Glen Ridge High School’s foreign language program. Working after hours, GRHS math teacher, Shihong Zhang, a native of northern China, applied for the grant in 2010. It was approved in 2011 with official funding to begin in 2012.
Already the official recognition has created opportunities for four GRHS students who received scholarships to attend the China Bridge Summer Camp in Beijing and Chongqing, China last summer. The same summer program will be offered this summer as well, Ms. Zhang said.
What began as an elective course exclusively for juniors and seniors, Chinese will now satisfy the high school’s core foreign language offering– open to all ninth to 12th grade students. In addition, the district now offers an eight- week course for all 8th grade students as part of a cycle” class schedule.
“We are delighted that we have been given the opportunity to increase our World Language offering,” said Glen Ridge High School Principal Dirk Phillips. “We recognize the importance of the Chinese culture in the global market. Gaining an understanding and appreciation of the Chinese language and culture will be a great benefit to our students.”
School officials plan to add a Chinese 2 class next year with the goal of adding more levels over time. “Ideally that will lead to an AP offering,”Mr. Phillips said.
Glen Ridge is one of six N.J. school districts to receive the Confucius Classroom designation. Funds from the grant will be used for program start-up costs and teaching materials: new software, new equipment, new cutting-edge technology in language instruction; and teacher training.
“Being a small district we do everything we can to create new opportunities for our students. The grant has been extremely beneficial in our ability to provide the Chinese courses to our students,” Mr.Phillips said.
Ms. Zhang’s enthusiasm is evident and she has no regrets about the time she put into developing the Chinese language program: “I could just teach math,” said Ms. Zhang, the busy mother of two elementary age children. “But it was important for me to promote the heritage and language of my country and also continue attempts to broaden the pathways of diversity in the GR schools.”
Superintendent of schools Dr. John Mucciolo added “Offering Chinese language offers another opportunity for our students to enter the 21st century equipped to succeed.”
Glen Ridge School’s “China Night”
Who: All ages.
What: Join with students of all ages and their families to celebrate the best of Chinese dance, martial arts, crafts and games.
Where: Ridgewood Avenue School, 235 Ridgewood Avenue, Glen Ridge, NJ
When: Thursday, March 1. Free family activities form 6 pm – 6:45 pm. Performance and Awards ceremony form 7 pm – 8:30 pm
Cost:Family activities free. Performance and ceremony: $3 student/$5 adult. Advance tickets may be purchased by calling 206.312.3001 or email.