PJ Catholic High rings in Dragon Year

Vibrant kickoff: Students performing a lion dance to start off the celebration.

THE school is not only a place of learning, but also a platform that unites students from various backgrounds.

Recently, Catholic High School in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, came alive with a burst of activities as its students and teachers, led by school principal Dr Margaret Lim Pei Tee, gathered to usher in Chinese New Year.

Yougan Mahendara Raja, 17, was especially ecstatic as he joined a group of dancers in staging a performance and welcoming guest of honour Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari into the school hall.

“I feel proud to represent my own race and celebrate Chinese New Year with my fellow Malaysians, proving that we live harmoniously together,” he told StarEdu.

Revealing that it was his first time taking part in such celebrations, Yougan said he was motivated by his friends’ participation and felt it was only right that he helped the school in organising a successful event.

“Partaking in such celebrations benefits us in many ways, one of which is our ability to mix and converse with other races.

“Without any exposure or communication, it will be tough to get along with each other,” he said, adding that such occasions enable the school community to bask in the joy of the celebration.

“Experiencing a celebration of another race brings a whole new perspective.

“Unity is not something we can achieve without understanding each other’s culture. With a better understanding, we can build tolerance and acceptance for one another,” he said.

His schoolmate Wahdi Kausar Abdullah, who volunteered as a door greeter welcoming the guests into the school hall, said the experience added robustness and colour to his secondary school life.

“I highly encourage students to take part in these activities because they won’t obtain such experiences in their textbooks.

“It builds confidence, allows one to socialise and know other people but above all, it creates an experience that lasts for a lifetime,” said the 17-year-old.

Resonating with Wahdi Kausar, Hannah Hanida Ishan, who was involved in setting up the Interact Club’s sales booth and helping out with a dragon portrait painting activity organised by the Creative Club of which she was a committee member, said each student should be involved in at least one such activity during their schooling days.

“It prepares you for any future roles you might be keen on getting into.

“For example, if you served as a vendor, you could go into marketing, and if you were part of the organising committee, you could become an event planner,” she said.

Hannah added that she felt “super accomplished” after the event as through the occasion, she obtained the full experience of organising an activity as well as being an active participant.

She expressed gratitude for being able to accomplish what she set out to do, especially having lost the first two-and-a-half years of her secondary school life to the movement control order due to the Covid-19 pandemic,

“Back then, I didn’t get to experience much of how secondary school was supposed to be. So, I took this chance to fulfil everything that I dreamed of accomplishing during my secondary school days,” she said.

The event, which featured booths and a carnival, involved some 180 students taking on various roles, including the organising committee, volunteers, as well as carnival and booth planners.

Several student performances were staged, including a lion dance, a modern dance, and performances by both the Chinese Orchestral Band and the drum team.

Vice president of the organising committee Gan Wei Thye said the main objective of the event, held on Jan 26, was to ensure the continuity of Chinese traditions and cultures while promoting cultural diversity among different ethnic groups.

“Participating in such events not only opens one’s eyes to new experiences, but it also allows one to create new memories, make new friends and cultivate team spirit.

“Most importantly, it enables students to step out of their comfort zones,” said the 17-year-old.

“I’m so proud of the organising team, the volunteers and my juniors. It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad we pushed through. At the end of the day, despite a few bumps along the road, the event went the way we had hoped,” he added.

Hao Yan, 17, a student in Selangor, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. For updates on the BRATs programme, go to facebook.com/niebrats.

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