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February 24. 2013 8:37PM

Henniker Community School turns focus to China


Henniker Community School Exchange Teacher Xu Ke works with Katie Brennan during the first part of the annual artist-in-residence program. (COURTESY)

HENNIKER - Students don't have to travel far from the Henniker Community School to explore other cultures, thanks in part to the artist-in-residency program.

This year's focus is China, with Chinese exchange teacher Xu Ke on staff. Xu Ke teamed up recently with New England College student Bo Gao from The Chinese Culture Club at New England College to spend time with the school's sixth-grade students explaining what life in China is like. They talked about the variety of festivals that are celebrated each year and the importance of ancestors and family in China, said Patti Osgood of the superintendent's office.

Throughout January, students engaged in a classroom study of China that was expanded upon through Chinese cooking and abacus lessons. Students also learned about traditional Chinese medicine during a visit to the school by acupuncturist Jennifer Woolf from Concord Community Acupuncture.

Xu Ke has been teaching students the art of calligraphy, which the students will use in a pottery class project at the school with their art teacher.

In March, the artist-in-residency program will go full-tilt and the sixth-graders will become fully immersed in Chinese study when visiting artists Cai Xi Silver and Mao Mao Liebert spend the entire week working with students.

This is the 13th year sixth-grade students at the Henniker Community School have experienced the artist-in-residency program, according to Osgood. The program is designed to enrich and expand the study of cultures from around the world. On a rotating basis, the areas of intensive study, which follows the sixth-grade social studies curriculum, include Africa, South America, India, China and Japan.

During the week of March 18, kids will learn and perform Chinese calisthenics, t'ai chi and sword for health; dances including dragon, ribbon and lantern. The students will also learn to make paper lanterns, opera masks, and calligraphy hanging scrolls.

There will also be a public performance and art exhibit at the school in the evening of March 22, at 7 p.m., where the students will be given the opportunity to express all they've learned in the winter months. The program is open to the public and admission is free.

nfoster@newstote.com


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