Sem Yeto Celebrates Chinese New Year

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Sem Yeto student, Angelina Flores

Jaden Baird, FSUSD Media Contact

Fairfield, CA Leadership students at Sem Yeto High School Satellite campus worked hard for two weeks making preparations to celebrate the 2022 Chinese New Year which began on Wednesday, February 1.

Chinese-Mexican-American student, Angelina Flores, shared with classes the ways her family has annually celebrated the Chinese New Year. At the suggestion of Flores, Sem Yeto’s leadership class decided to carve out two weeks to celebrate Chinese New Year on campus before jumping into Valentine’s Day planning. The weeks of decoration and dragon construction culminated in a parade at lunchtime involving the whole school.

“I wanted to do this because schools usually don’t recognize Chinese New Year,” student Flores stated. “This year my family couldn’t celebrate it like we usually do with dinner in Chinatown because my uncle is sick, so it was cool to do something here at school.”

Teams were created to decorate hallways with paper cut-outs, paper lanterns, chalk murals, and construct a dragon that was inspired by those found globally in parades. Students built a dragon from cardboard boxes, butcher paper and tempera paint. At the beginning of lunchtime, leadership students scrambled out of the classroom to prepare for the parade. Gathering under and around the dragon while blowing whistles, students paraded around the school as traditional Chinese drum music blared from a portable speaker. Students from other classes joined the parade as it made its way around the campus while teachers cheered and took photos.

The vibrant student-led effort gave participants and spectators an appreciation for the cherished Asian holiday with which many were previously unfamiliar.”

Principal James Hightower commented, “This event was important to show the community that we value all of our students and their diverse cultures. It was just awesome! Even students who were not from an Asian background took a lot of pride in participating in the event. That made everyone value it even more.”

On the day of the celebration, teachers were given small red envelopes to hand out Sem Yeto’s school money, “Tribe Bucks,” in honor of the Chinese tradition. Tribe Bucks are issued to students by staff at Sem Yeto to recognize positive behavior. When students have accumulated a dozen or more Tribe Bucks, they can redeem the bucks for items at the student store.

Sem Yeto student leadership will continue to seek ways to engage students and build a positive community on the campus.