Fourth Annual Lunar New Year Celebration: A TJ Tradition Comes to Campus
Made Possible by Generous Grants from:
TJ’s 2017 Lunar New Year Committee spent months planning this year’s event, and it showed. The entire hallway from the Dome entry to the Cafeteria was strung with 1,000 lanterns and decorated with calligraphy and artwork, transforming it into a stunning gallery. The food was varied and delicious, the panel discussion featuring experienced students, parents, and faculty guests Dr. John Dell and Mr. Mark Hannum, was lively and informative, and the opening and closing entertainment was a delight, with beautiful musical and singing performances by two very talented students.
With support from the TJ Partnership Fund, several Chinese and Vietnamese parents launched the first Lunar New Year Celebration in 2014, the Year of the Horse. Held at a Rosslyn restaurant for two years, the party grew too large for that venue and took place last year at a Fairfax conference center. This year, 300 guests celebrated both the Year of the Rooster and the final year of TJ’s four-year renovation with the first LNY Celebration held at TJ. The party raised $20,000 for the school.
The event’s panel, “Maximizing the TJ Experience: Perspectives from Students, Parents, and Teachers,” featured seniors Christopher Cao and Jessica Wang; former PTSA President Louise Epstein, Parent ’07, ’11, ’11; PTSA Corresponding Secretary and Health & Wellness Committee Co-Chair Yongqing Lu, Parent ’17, ’17; Physics teacher Dr. John Dell; and Neuroscience Lab Director, Physics teacher, and Sci/Tech Division Manager Mark Hannum. Panelists gave frank and thoughtful answers to probing questions from Moderator Danielle Zhu, Parent ’16, ’18, providing the audience with some useful advice designed to help them help their students.
Christopher was recognized as a CNN Hero for his service work (see also Nov 2015 issue) and Jessica, who also participates in outreach work, is the President of TJ Future Problem Solving, one of the school’s largest academic teams. The two student panelists spoke about taking advantage of what TJ has to offer while being true to themselves, continuing with activities they love, and maintaining balance.
The two veteran parents, who showed that the parents of twins may have a special wisdom to share, spoke from the heart about their experiences. Lu described her growth from a parent who entered TJ with a narrow definition of success into one who appreciated the need to guide growing children gently so that they remain the owners of their decisions and have room for self-discovery (see also Wellness, this issue). Epstein agreed, cautioning parents against overloading students just to “check the boxes,” and suggesting that when teens focus on their interests they are more successful and more likely to develop life-long skills. She encouraged parents to begin volunteering at school by doing something related to the activity that matters most to their child, and she urged all parents to become more involved in TJ advocacy.
Mr. Hannum said that he decided to teach at TJ because it meant joining an inquisitive, intellectual community where both faculty and students engaged in debate and conversation. He brought that enthusiasm for discussion to the event, speaking about the benefits to young students of being able to engage in real science, with its inherent risk of failure that builds resilience and rewards creative thinking and perseverance. Dr. Dell, a 28-year TJ veteran, explained how the absence of a clear blueprint allowed TJ to develop organically during its early years, giving teachers like him the freedom to design unique curricula to meet students’ abilities and interests. Echoing the parent panelists’ advice, he urged students to get a good night’s sleep, and he also encouraged them to find one or more students with whom they can discuss challenging academic problems in order to get the most out of their TJ experience.
After the panel, Principal Glazer, assisted by his three-year-old son, addressed the crowd briefly in Chinese while his wife and newborn daughter looked on. Other special guests in attendance included Chinese language teacher Maggie Xu, Chemistry teacher Hadan Kauffman and his wife, and counselor Andrea Smith. Many generous parents purchased “faculty tickets” so that panelists, faculty, staff, and their families could attend the event free of charge.
The morning after the event, Dr. Glazer wrote to the event Chair:
“Thank you, Huaying, for organizing such a nice event for our community. The decorations were great, music and art were festive, food was tasty, the panel offered great perspectives about TJ. Most importantly, the people made the event special. Thanks for helping us celebrate our heritage!”
2017 Lunar New Year Celebration Planning Committee
Chair: Huaying Davis, Parent ’19
Cindy Chen, Parent ’18, ’20
Penny Chen, Parent ’20
Juliana Deng, Parent ’20
Lan Fan, Parent ’17, ’18
Jiang Huang, Parent ’20
Betty Li, Parent ’18
Yongqing Lu, Parent ’17, ’17
Stan Niu, Parent ’17
Tricia Su, Parent ’20
Xiaoyu Su, Parent ’16
Jianfang Wang, Parent ’20
Peter & Jane Wu, Parents ’19
Jerri Xu, Parent ’17
Abby Yan, Parent ’18
Nancy Yang, Parent ’17, ’18
Vera Zhao, Parent ’20
Yuyan Zhou, Parent ’16, ’20
Danielle Zhu, Parent ’16, ’18
Peter Zou & Linh Nham, Parents ’17