This year's Chinese New Year is extra special for the families of the Mid-Jersey Chinese School: In addition to being the year of the snake, it is also the year of their 50th anniversary celebration.
Throughout the past five decades, the Mid-Jersey Chinese School has celebrated Chinese culture and language with children from all over central New Jersey.
On Feb. 2, the school is inviting the greater East Brunswick community to join them in a large celebration showcasing its offerings.
Started in 1963, the school offers three types of language classes for students in grades K-12, customized for those students who speak Chinese at home, those who do not speak it at home, and for those wishing to learn Cantonese, a Chinese dialect that is different from Mandarin, the official language of China.
The school added the Cantonese classes in 2008 when it collaborated with the Ivy Chinese Learning Academy, a similar school that operated in East Brunswick.
Now, the language offerings of the Mid-Jersey Chinese School are recognized by the East Brunswick Public School district, and students enrolled in them are eligible to receive class credits toward their world language requirements, according to Susanna Chiu, board chairperson for the school
The school, which meets on Saturdays at Churchill Junior High School, also holds culture classes for adults and children, boasting such offerings as dance, calligraphy, Chinese yo-yo, Zumba, and brush painting, according to information provided by the school.
The school operates under the umbrella agency of the Chinese American Cultural Organization, which acts as a guidance agency for six Chinese schools in New Jersey, according to their website.
It is also sponsored by the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission, Chiu said.
The Mid-Jersey Chinese School's only paid staff are the language teachers, Chiu said. The rest of the school's operations are handled by an army of parent and student volunteers, many of which are high school students who have come up through the school through their youth.
Tommy Brown, 15, of East Brunswick, is one such student. After being a longtime student of the school, he now teaches Chinese yo-yo to to his peers.
Brown, along with his fellow student instructors, are tasked with designing a performance for the Feb. 2 show.
"Learning to spin the yo-yo is the hardest thing," he said.
The events scheduled for Feb. 2 are as follows:
- At 3 p.m., Chinese New Year-themed carnival games and seminars will be held.
- A 5 p.m. a Chinese-style banquet will be held. The dinner is sold out, and reservations are no longer being accepted.
- The day will culminate with a 7 p.m.-9:30 p.m. performance featuring lion and dragon dances, Chinese yo-yo, a magic show and a performance by the Nai Ni Chen Dance Company. The performance is free to attend.
All events will be held at Hammarskjold Middle School, 200 Rues Lane.
For more information on the Mid-Jersey Chinese School, visit www.mjcs.us.