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By Via Perkins
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
An innovative school is serving the needs of Wellesley beyond the public school systems. The Wellesley Chinese Language School was built by parents who wanted to incorporate the study of Chinese, appreciation for Chinese culture and a respect for all types of backgrounds into their curriculum, and their annual Chinese New Year Party is a prime example of these values in action.
“WCLS was founded on the premise that everyone can learn Chinese,” says Vice President Helen Fang.
Armed with this initial idea, the passionate parents not only held meetings amongst themselves, but also consulted with Chinese schools across the country to help them decide on the school model, textbooks and teachers, among other topics. Fang says these conversations helped the budding school by “learning [from] their success and failure experience.”
Since opening in 2010, WCLS has been an educational support system, both for Chinese and interracial families, or families of any background who are seeking a unique learning environment. Two student tracks are offered at WCLS: one for those who have no Chinese background or experience, and one for those who grew up in Chinese families, enabling students of varying levels of experience to succeed.
In addition to academics, there are numerous extracurricular activities, including drawing (including traditional Chinese painting), Tai Chi and chess class. The latter is one of the most popular – WCLS students have won state and regional championships in the past. Many of the skills and activities learned in class are demonstrated during WCLS’s annual Chinese New Year Party.
2016 marked the sixth party held by the school. On January 31, more than 150 students, faculty and families packed into Olin College’s Milas Hall to celebrate the Year of the Monkey. The halls were extravagantly decorated with brightly colored artwork, streamers, and balloons, and a long table of appetizers was set out on the way to the auditorium, where families waited for the party to begin at 1:30 p.m.
The venue was brimming with talk and activity as elegantly dressed young students prepared to take the stage. More than 20 acts were scheduled, showcasing singing, dancing, acting and calligraphy, among other skills. Though most of the program featured the children, performances by parents and outside guests were also included. A communal spirit filled the afternoon as students’ accomplishments throughout the year were commemorated.
Fang feels that this spirit is one of the benefits of WCLS. “WCLS presents a quality curriculum incorporating Chinese language learning classes and Chinese cultural studies, thereby promoting cross-cultural understanding in Wellesley and surrounding communities,” she says. “We envision that our effort will enrich our children’s minds through language and cultural education and encourage children to embrace differences in the world.”
To learn more about the Wellesley Chinese Language School, visit www.wellesleychineseschool.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Via Perkins is a Correspondent for Hometown Weekly. She can be reached at email@example.com.