Happy Lunar New Year
Message from the headmaster
This Friday, February 12th, many of our students at St. Johnsbury Academy will be celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year. Earlier this week, some of the very few Chinese students who were able to join us in person this year decorated boards in Colby Hall and the columns at the entryway, with red envelopes, “couplets,” red hanging ornaments, and paper cut-out decorations. Two of them, Qingyue “Jenny” Li and Yu “Rain” Bai, brought the story of the New Year—the Year of the Ox—to our virtual Chapel, and then introduced a video made by some of our Chinese students who have been unable to be here in person, but who have joined us since last September from China in our Virtual Academy. The video can be viewed here. Jenny and Rain’s Chapel video can be viewed here.
This video moved so many people here—not only because of the cleverness of its segments, with students (and their adorable pets) in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen filming the different ways the New Year is celebrated in those cities with lights, special food, and brilliant decorations, but also because it featured our students saying “Happy New Year” in Chinese and English, one after another, reminding us of how much we miss their joyful presence here on campus. There were more than a few misty eyes. Our Chinese students are such an important part of our culture and community—and while nothing about this year has been ordinary, seeing them made particularly clear how different life is without them here.
More than anything, hearing about and feeling the celebration of the Chinese New Year felt like the force of possibility—the possibility of a new beginning, a reset, a shift into the Year of the Ox, when we will need to hold steady and work hard to move ourselves back into some kind of normalcy. Our students reminded us of something we recognized around the turn of our calendar year and have to keep remembering: that it’s important to take every opportunity to celebrate together. The days are getting longer, and the Chinese New Year is a chance for us to feel the peculiar joy and hope of this season, when we wear red, think of and say positive things, and look to new beginnings, reunions, and celebrations.
Dr. Sharon L. Howell