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Rahm Stops By Chinatown's St. Therese for Lunar New Year Celebration

By Casey Cora | February 11, 2013 12:50pm

CHINATOWN — The Lunar New Year kicked off Monday with a bang outside St. Therese Chinese Catholic School.

A few bangs, actually, courtesy of some firecrackers that erupted outside the school to mark Mayor Rahm Emanuel's visit for a Chinese New Year celebration.

The ceremony was a chance for the private school at 247 W. 23rd St. to show off its plentiful arts programs and included student performances of traditional dances, taiko drumming and songs such as "The Dance of the Water Lilies."

"We're kind of nervous, yes. Because nothing like this ever happens," said sixth grader Sabrina Shih before taking the stage to perform the "Tranquility of Jasmine" dance with her classmates.

Emanuel was joined in the front row in the school cafeteria by Ald. Danny Solis (25th) and dignitaries from the neighborhood's business community. The mayor credited the school's teachers, parents and principal Phyllis Cavallone for creating a healthy learning environment.

"While we are ushering in the new year...we are really ushering in the recognition of what a principal, this principal, these teachers and parents have done. We can do great things for our children," he said.

The school enrolls roughly 300 preschool through eighth-grade students, 70 percent of whom are Chinese-American, and is consistently highlighted as a model of academic excellence.

It’s been recognized as a finalist in Intel’s “School of Distinction” for mathematics instruction, and last year won the U.S. Department of Education’s designation as a Blue Ribbon School.

Cavallone was recently named a winner in Tech & Learning’s Leader of the Year awards for her work in spurring innovation at the school.