Mandarin Showcase at Dizzy Gillespie


A celebration of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Snake, was held on Sunday, March 10, 2013, in the Dizzy Gillespie Auditorium for students in the Mandarin Program from the Englewood Public School District. Although delayed due to the February blizzard, students from Quarles, McCloud, Grieco, Janis Dismus and Dwight Morrow/Academies @ Englewood enthusiastically participated in the showcase that began with the song, “We Love Mom.”

It was the second year the celebration was held, and this year the auditorium was filled with excited family members eager to watch their children perform and perhaps even learn a little Chinese. Approximately 29 high school students participated in the event.

“The purpose of the event was to help the Chinese Mandarin Program grow in the Englewood School District by building better communication,” stated Qinying Coleman, the new Mandarin teacher who helped prepare the Showcase.

The hour-and-a-half event consisted of a dozen performances that ranged from the Umbrella Dance by sixth graders to a Calligraphy Presentation by DMAE high school students

Ms. Coleman felt that the calligraphy presentation during which three students inscribed calligraphy on a blank canvas, held a special meaning. She believed it really showed the students’ learning process.

After the performances, three mothers came on stage to applaud the program. They gave a short speech, in Chinese and in English, commending their children’s progress and encouraging all students to pursue the Chinese language even further.

Most attendees thought the highlight of the Showcase was watching the performance of the young children from the elementary schools who performed the Umbrella Dance and sang traditional Chinese songs.

“I think the little kids’ performances were the most entertaining and memorable,” remarked Angus Fung, a sophomore currently enrolled in Mandarin.

Some felt that the Showcase was not well organized, particularly the high school students who were frustrated with the lack of time to prepare.

“We didn’t do that well because we didn’t have enough time to prepare,” sophomore Ryan Pirog said. “We only had two periods of rehearsal.”

Compared to the first year, however, the Showcase was more organized. Last year, due to the resignation of the lead Mandarin teacher, the students had a total of six different teachers, none of whom were as passionate about teaching Chinese as Ms. Coleman is.

“Thanks to Ms. Coleman, the Showcase ran more smoothly,” explained Angus Fung.

Since freshman year, Angus has been enrolled in the Mandarin course, and he plans to stick with it until senior year.

“In class, Ms. Coleman urges us not to speak in English,” Angus said. “It is a little easier for me because I have previous knowledge of Chinese. But there is some miscommunication once in a while between her and the class.”

Ms. Coleman also encourages hands-on learning. During one class session, students had to make 10 dumplings from scratch using ingredients and utensils that were labeled in Chinese. They were even graded on how well they made them.

“It may seem like just a fun thing, but students actually learn from it,” said Ms. Coleman.

Ms. Coleman believes the Showcase will improve even more next year, especially if more students become involved. Both Angus and Ryan recommend this new and different learning experience.