THE Year of the Dog will hold special significance for Calista Primary School students as it heralds in a new Mandarin language and culture program for the school.
On February 16 a traditional Lion Dance and colourful lanterns officially launched the program, funded by Tianqi Lithium Australia, as a surprise to students, their families and staff at the school.
Tianqi Lithium is constructing the world’s largest lithium hydroxide processing plant in Kwinana, and is providing the school with $270,000 for a language teacher for the next three years.
It means the school will be able to provide its first whole-school (pre-primary to Year 6) language program in several years.
The company’s general manager Phil Thick said it was the perfect time to launch the program during Chinese New Year celebrations.
“From the moment we started constructing the new plant in Kwinana we have been planning how we can contribute something really useful and beneficial at a local community level,” he said.
“Calista Primary School is in the heart of Kwinana and it’s a great school eager to open a window on the world for its diverse students.
“Everyone at Tianqi Lithium – from the top down – is very excited that we were able to help make that happen.
“Tianqi Lithium’s roots are Chinese, with our chairman Mr Jiang Weiping pursuing a nearly 30-year passion for all things West Australian.”
Calista Primary School principal Craig Skinner said that students started a weekly lesson at the beginning of the school year and were enjoying it.
“It’s been a while since we were able to provide a comprehensive language program and to be able to do that now, across all year levels and with a fun cultural component, is a big asset for the school,” he said.
“Our new teacher is working with the rest of the staff team to help provide students with new experiences and different ways to look at the world, and we’re all looking forward to more exciting events with Chinese-themed activities, celebrations and arts.”
Calista Primary School would also work with Oberthur Primary School in Bullcreek which has run successful Mandarin language for several years.