By Colin Gustafson, STAFF WRITER - Greenwich Time
Published: 09:54 p.m., Monday, March 1, 2010
On Monday, however, the same cheer for the school's 10-year-old tiger mascot came in Mandarin Chinese: "Jia You! Jia You! Jia You!"
Students showed their school spirit with multicultural flair Monday morning, celebrating both the 10th anniversary of their mascot's creation and the Feb. 14 start of the Chinese New Year of the Tiger.
The celebration featured an assembly of traditional Chinese folk dances by Fort Lee. N.J.-based Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, complete with from fan- and ribbon-dance routines, and acrobatic displays of martial arts and spear twirling.
Students were later treated to a lunch of authentic Chinese cuisine with fortune cookies for dessert.
The language lessons did not end with the chanting. At the start of the assembly for middle school students, Head of School Pam Hayes welcomed students with greetings of "Happy New Year" in English, Cantonese ("gung hay fat choy") and Mandarin ("xing nian kwai le").
"I'm very pleased with Ms. Hayes' pronunciation," Sacred Heart Mandarin instructorJoanne Wu Havemeyer later joked.
Students also learned more about their favorite tiger.
Joined at the front of the assembly hall by Roary, Sacred Heart senior Paige Terry later recounted the story of how the school's mascot came to be 10 years ago. Formerly without a mascot, the school polled students in 2000 about their preference for a mascot, giving a tiger, a dragon and a "green storm" as options. The votes came back overwhelmingly in favor of a tiger.
Later, in 2006, they gave their tiger the proper name "Roary" after a similar poll that posed "Stripe" and "Grite" as other options. Since then, Roary has inspired the names of four middle school athletic teams: the Cubs, Tigers, Paws and Stripes.
"The tiger symbolizes intelligence, natural leadership, courage, selflessness and takes on the role of protector," Paige said during the assembly, as Roary mimed each trait.
Students said they enjoyed having the opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture.
"I really enjoyed the vibrant colors and the energy the dancers brought to the stage," said seventh-grader Sloane Ruffa, 13.
Photos: Bob Luckey / Greenwich Time