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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Ridgecrest Elementary welcomes back community with “Year of the Tiger” celebration

Jun 30, 2022 06:53PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Matt and Sheena Haynes came to see daughters fourth-grader Lily, and first-grader Madelyn’s artwork, which was displayed in Ridgecrest Elementary’s hallways.

“We’re proud of what they’re doing at the school and what the teachers are teaching them,” Matt Haynes said. “This is a community night where we get to come in and get to know one another better—and be proud to be a tiger.”

It was Ridgecrest’s dual language and community celebration and it turned out to be huge. Partly, because it was its return after the hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, and partly, because it was tied in with the school mascot and the Chinese zodiac calendar; it was a celebration of the Year of the Tiger.

For many, it also was a chance to meet new principal Sara Allen in person. Allen had served as the assistant principal while previous principal Julie Winfree split her time between Ridgecrest and helping with the construction process of the new Glacier Hills Elementary that will open this fall in White City.

After seeing their own tiger mascot, Reggie, and getting some cinnamon Tiger Bites (packaged with Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger) and looking at the hallways adorned with many different forms of tiger artwork, students and community members were welcomed in the school’s multipurpose room.

“One of the things I have heard through the past two years has been how much people have missed coming together for community events,” Allen said. “So, tonight we hope to take our first steps back into building the community together. We are celebrating cultures around the world, including here at Ridgecrest. We wanted to have a moment to celebrate this Year of the Tiger in the Chinese zodiac and ‘what it means to be a tiger at Ridgecrest.’”

Allen said that people born in the Year of the Tiger are considered courageous, confident, trustworthy and energetic—and that’s what Ridgecrest tiger student-performers were going to be as the choir took the stage, followed by fourth graders performing the dragon dance.

Nicole and Sam Peterson, along with preschooler Lucas, were on hand to watch their fourth-grade daughter Avery perform in the dragon dance as well as see her and their second-grade daughter Aspen’s artwork. Both girls are learning Mandarin in the school’s dual language immersion program.

“I like learned Chinese and learning about the culture and the candy,” Aspen said.

Nicole Peterson said that often the girls will read passages, then act out what they read to have a better grasp of learning.

“They’re having fun while learning Chinese,” she said. “They’re in classes that will move with them during their education, so they’re making those friendships and building a community while learning more about the world.”