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Coquihalla Elementary first graders stage Lunar New Year parade

Grade 1 students chase away bad luck while learning about different cultures and traditions

Students at Coquihalla Elementary School helped to usher in this year’s Lunar New Year while also chasing away any bad luck that might be coming their way.

It’s the year of the rabbit and Coquihalla’s Grade 1 students celebrated on Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 25) by putting on a Lunar New Year parade. Carrying mini Chinese lions on sticks, paper dragons, lanterns, noisemakers and drums, the children walked throughout school making as much noise to chase away “bad spirits,” ghosts, and anything that might bring bad luck. As well as bringing “all the happiness and good cheer for the new year.”

“While the parade is a symbol, it still felt good to do it. And I think we spread a lot of cheer,” said Dustin Neufeld, a Grade 1 teacher at Coquihalla who came up with the idea. “It’s full of symbolism (the parade) and [the kids] learned about a whole different culture from ours. [They] learned about their language and writing. [They] learned about counting and eating with chopsticks. And [they] tried different foods [they] haven’t tried before. [They also] tried counting in Mandarin which was a little different for them.”

Neufeld, who organized the parade between the Grade 1 classes, spent the past week teaching his students about the Lunar year, different Chinese cultures and traditions.

Coquihalla’s principal, Bruce Becker, said it was great to see the parade and to see the children expand their understanding of the world.

“I think it’s great that [first graders] are learning about different cultures and what else is going on in the world,” said Becker. “Kids need to know that there are different cultures, and different ways of doing things. And Grade 1 is a great time to introduce that.”

The 2023 Lunar New Year started on Jan. 22 and will end 15 days later, on Feb. 1.

READ MORE: Coquihalla’s first grade students host peaceful protest in honour of MLK day


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