Chinese culture, puppetry highlight Blue Ridge sixth grade day

Blue Ridge sixth grader Matt Glatzel shows off his Chinese warrior puppet completed during an art-infused videoconference with the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Ga. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

Blue Ridge sixth grader Matt Glatzel shows off his Chinese warrior puppet completed during an art-infused videoconference with the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Ga. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

Patty Petrey Dees, distance learning director of the Center for Puppetry Arts explained puppet theater that evolved in ancient China.

Patty Petrey Dees, distance learning director of the Center for Puppetry Arts explained puppet theater that evolved in ancient China.

BY STACI WILSON

Blue Ridge sixth graders spent their school day Thursday immersed in Chinese culture, including an art-infused videoconference with the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Ga.
Linked with center via the internet, the students learned about the significance of puppet theater – including shadow puppets, hand puppets and marionettes – in China’s history.
Over 2000 years old, the art of shadow puppetry, explained Patty Petrey Dees, distance learning director of the Center for Puppetry Arts, was an ancestor to both modern opera and film.
She also explained that the Chinese puppet shows reflected the beliefs and history of the areas where they were staged, incorporating symbols and imagery that reflected the culture.
Students were also given the opportunity to create their own ancient warrior hand puppet.
Sixth grader Matt Glatzel said he found the day interesting. “It’s fun. We’re doing something different,” he said. “And we learned about the puppets and stuff.”
In addition to the videoconference, the students also learned how to use chopsticks, delved into the Chinese zodiac, and learned about the tradition of “lucky money,” red envelopes of money usually given to children during Chinese New Year.
And after all that was packed into the morning, the students were treated

Blue Ridge sixth graders Anna Bonner and Tabitha Cramer concentrate on the construction of their Chinese warrior puppet during an art-infused videoconference with the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Ga. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

Blue Ridge sixth graders Anna Bonner and Tabitha Cramer concentrate on the construction of their Chinese warrior puppet during an art-infused videoconference with the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Ga. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

to Chinese food for lunch served in the sixth grade wing of the middle school.
But there was one requirement – students had to attempt to use their chopsticks to eat.
Blue Ridge teacher Ashley Goff said the special sixth grade celebration has been taking place for at least the past eight years.
The event happens after the students wrap up their studies of Ancient China, generally right around Chinese New Year, a 15-day celebration that kicked off Feb. 10.

Blue Ridge sixth grader Josh Goff works on his Chinese warrior puppet completed during an art-infused videoconference with the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Ga. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

Blue Ridge sixth grader Josh Goff works on his Chinese warrior puppet completed during an art-infused videoconference with the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Ga. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON