A Chinese Immersion language program for a Schaumburg elementary school's youngest kids has opened the door to a variety of cultural opportunities for the entire student body.
On Thursday, Campanelli School received five new Chinese drums donated by the Taiwanese Overseas Compatriot Affairs Council, then students watched a performance on them by the accomplished players of the Westmont-based Cheng Da Drum Team.
The donation paves the way for yet another Chinese cultural-based afterschool program, joining others already focused on music, dancing and acrobatics.
Minister Steven Chen of the OCAC and Director Roy Yen of the Culture Center of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago made the ceremonial donation to the school along with the presentation of a Taiwanese tea set to Campanelli Principal Steve Kern.
They also visited the Chinese Immersion classes of kindergartners, first and second graders and took in the booming, energetic performance of the Cheng Da Drum Team.
"It's a very different experience," Chen told the students beforehand. "It's not an American instrument. I hope you like it."
The cinder block walls of the school vibrated to the sounds of the highly choreographed performance. Students' reactions ranged from bobbing their heads and clapping along to protecting their ears, but all invariably cheered after each song.
Composer and choreographer Brent Roman explained to the students that in addition to their artistic uses, such drums also were capable of sending messages from village to village in the time before telephones.
Kern said the school's pursuit of cultural experiences has allowed all Campanelli students to learn more about China, not just those learning the language.
The immersion program retains English as its base language, but some classes are taught entirely in Chinese by teachers fluent in both.
In its third year of the program, second grade is the currently highest level of instruction. The plan is to add another grade level each year as the oldest class progresses. After sixth grade, the program will expand to a junior high school in Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 and hopefully be picked up by Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 after that.