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The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

    School administration officially recognizes Lunar New Year as a school holiday

    Connor Tang
    Students celebrate an AAPI holiday in October with Asian Students in Action (ASiA), the Asian affinity club at the upper school. The school’s decision to recognize Lunar New Year will impact many Asian-identifying students.

    The school announced that it will designate Lunar New Year as a day off for students and faculty in an effort to be inclusive of hundreds of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) students at the school, according to Head of Upper School Beth Slattery. The 2024 Lunar New Year holiday falls on a weekend, meaning students will not be given a day off, but a one-day break will occur in January 2025.

    The administration’s action comes amid a similar decision made by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which passed a resolution that recognized Lunar New Year as a holiday for all students, according to Slattery.

    Although Lunar New Year festivities differ between cultures, people who celebrate typically spend the holiday together, eating cultural foods and partaking in traditional activities. In acknowledgment, Slattery said she wanted to provide students with a day off to allow them to celebrate the holiday with family.

    “There’s a threshold about events like that for a large segment of our population that would involve some kind of observance during the day,” Slattery said. “People may travel, they might want to spend the day cooking or want to be together. We have a large [AAPI] population, so it felt compelling.”

    Slattery said the idea was first brought up when students at the Middle School talked to administrators about designating the day as a holiday a couple of years ago. Chazzy Cho ’25, one of the students, was one of the leaders of Asian American Culture Club (AACC) when he was at the Middle School. Alongside his co-leaders, Lauren Park ’25 and Hudson Chen ’25, Cho said he was inspired to campaign for the day off after seeing the school’s lack of acknowledgement for the holiday.

    “It was in ninth grade during the Lunar New Year, and all [the administration] did was send an email,” Cho said. “I looked at the schedule because there was a Flex Day the week after Lunar New Year. I was thinking, ‘Why couldn’t they just move it up, and show more appreciation for all the Asian students at the school?'”

    Park said they then presented their case to the administration, where they argued how an added day off would be significant for the AAPI students. The students waited, and after a year without resolution, they followed up with their case in 10th grade with the Assistant Head of School for Community and Belonging Janine Jones, who then pitched it to the Upper School administration. Another year later, the administration officially designated Lunar New Year as a holiday.

    Park said Jones’ help was crucial in connecting them with the Upper School administration, and that she is thankful for her commitment to upholding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) principles.

    “Jones was a huge advocate in all the DEI work that we were involved in,” Park said. “When we brought this up to her, she really guided us through the process of how we could get it approved and who the right people were to go to on campus. I’m really grateful for her.”

    Likewise, Cho said he is also grateful for Chen and Park, who helped him advance the idea, and the administration, for hearing and executing their ideas through a long process.

    “None of this would’ve happened without [Chen] and [Park], so they deserve credit,” Cho said. “I’m also appreciative of the administration. Obviously, we were able to give them the idea, but there’s a lot of consideration that goes into schedule changes and getting days off. It’s awesome, though, and I’m proud.”

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    Connor Tang, Assistant News Editor

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