VHS Shows Its Chinese Side


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The school teaches traditional Chinese dances.

From Monday to Friday, the dominant language at Verona High School is English, or the text-messaging variant thereof. But on Saturdays, you’ll need to know Mandarin to do well in class.

For the last five years, VHS has rented space to the Northern Huaxia Chinese School. The private school started in Bloomfield before moving to Verona five years ago and setting up additional classes at 20 locations across northern New Jersey. Northern Huaxia teaches Mandarin to the children of Chinese families, and a lot more. From 12:30 to 3:40 p.m. every Saturday, there are classes in Chinese painting, calligraphy, music, dance and karate, and even Chinese as a Second Language (CSL) classes that could be used by the students now taking Mandarin in Verona’s public schools.

A CSL student performs.

“Some of CSL students were adopted from China, some are American kids who just want to learn Chinese,” says Principal George Meng.

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In all, the school has 175 students now enrolled in its 45 classes. And not all of them are children: There are language classes specifically for adults and many of the culture classes have components for adults as well as young students. There’s also a Chinese-language equivalent of a “mommy and me” class. The classes are taught by volunteers, including members of Verona’s Chinese community like Kamilla Liu, the owner of the Montclair-based sushi restaurant Nori. Yimin You, who teaches Mandarin at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, has also been a teacher at Northern Huaxia for the past five years.

Students can join the culture classes at any time, but registration for the language classes opens in April and is closed once the classes begin in September.

If you want to see all that the school has to offer, you won’t have to wait that long. Principal Meng says that Northern Huaxia will once again open its Chinese New Year celebration to the entire community in Verona. Look for your invitation in these pages soon.

A class for moms and kids.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]


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