For the eighth year in a row, the Garrison Forest School community came together to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration, a harvest festival celebrated in many Asian countries and by people of Asian descent around the globe. The festival, always held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, fell this year on October 4. As in years past, Garrison Forest boarding students from China and Korea worked for the month prior in conjunction with GFS International Cultural Event Coordinator BJ McElderry to plan the event and the many activities leading up to it in order to bring the festival to the entire community.
In the Asian tradition of celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival by lantern light, Candy Shi, a sophomore from Shanghai, spearheaded lantern making for 80 Middle and Upper School Students and faculty in the weeks leading up to the festival. On the night of the event, the lanterns lit the field between the horse pasture and pond, where an Asian buffet served over 200 residents and guests. Riddles hanging from some of the lanterns challenged guests to think about the puzzling words. Chinese moon cakes and American moon pies topped off the meal. After the celebration, GFS Service League, the school’s community service organization, sold the handmade lanterns for $2 each to donate the proceeds to recent hurricane victims.
Garrison Forest Lower School’s entire 5th grade class joined in the celebration by creating and performing shadow puppet plays during the event. In the month leading up to the festival, the 5th grade students worked in conjunction with 5th grade teachers Stephanie Brown and Jennifer Stapleton, art teacher Eun Young Ko and Black Cherry Puppet Theater to read Chinese folktales, convert them into scripts, design storyboards and construct shadow puppets to perform in the GFS Garland Theater for their families. (Shadow puppets are deemed a UNESCO national heritage treasure in China.) Every 5th grad student had a role and each play reflected the students’ imagination and sense of humor. Jenny Zhao, a sophomore from Beijing, arranged musical accompaniment for the puppet performances and gave a solo performance along with Julia Xie, a freshman from Xian, respectively on the zhongruan and pipa.
“I was delighted with the students’ enthusiasm, creative thinking, and team work!,” says McElderry. “Besides students, many, many staff members contributed to our preparations. I wholeheartedly thank them and the parents of students from China who generously funded the dinner, the puppet and lantern workshops for the celebration.”
In centuries past, the mid-autumn or harvest moon, being large and bright, allowed farmers to work into the night to harvest their crops. Through festivals marking seasonal transitions and emphasizing family unity and harmony, the Mid-Autumn Festival and Chuseok mark the end of summer and prompt families to have reunions and celebrate.
All photos are courtesy of Selina Ma ’20.