NEW YORK - School hallways echo in two languages on 41st Avenue in Flushing, Queens.
Most students at St. Michael's Catholic Academy are of Chinese descent, and all in kindergarten through eighth grade benefit from a distinctive bilingual curriculum.
"All of our students will spend half the time learning in English, and then half the time learning in Mandarin. And it's not just learning the language but also learning content," principal Philip Heide said.
For some, it's a foreign language, and for others, a native tongue. They learn side by side in the same classroom.
"Bilingual will help them in the future for their career or for their whole life," teacher Shirley Liang said.
Preparations are underway for a celebration the school community looks forward to all year long.
Based on cycles of the moon, Lunar New Year is celebrated by millions worldwide. It is of special significance in Chinese culture, associated with foods like dumplings and symbols including dragons.
Students say the festival allows them to come together with loved ones, honor ancestors, and summon good luck for the future. Teachers say sharing the history and customs can instill both knowledge and cultural pride.
The school's Lunar New Year programming culminates in a recital and parade, where students can show families all they've learned.
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