With their glowing lanterns, the students and families of Murdy Elementary School celebrated as a community to welcome the full harvest moon — a symbol of peace, prosperity and togetherness.
The Garden Grove Unified School District campus held its first Mid-Autumn Moon Festival on Sept. 16 with more than 700 people in attendance. Students, their families and school employees wore cultural outfits from Vietnam. Their bright prints ranged in different colors, patterns and textures.
“The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is one of many events that Murdy Elementary hosts each year to honor the cultural traditions of our students and families,” Principal Marcie Griffith said.
Prior to this school year, Murdy Elementary teachers and students celebrated with their respective classes by crafting paper lanterns and reading books about the festival. This year, school leaders planned a large event in coordination with the PTA, teachers, staff, local businesses, students and their families.
The event included dance and musical performances from students, crafting stations where teachers guided children in making their own paper lanterns, mooncake tasting and other carnival games. The school also received support from La Quinta High School’s Key Club, whose student members volunteered to serve at the event, and the Garden Grove High School’s Lion Dance troupe, which performed for the guests.
The moon festival has been celebrated in Asian countries for thousands of years, usually in the middle of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, when the moon is brightest. Similarly to how families in the U.S. gather on Thanksgiving Day, families in Asian countries and households reunite to celebrate their affection for one another, to show gratitude for the harvest and to wish for another bountiful year.
“We are proud of our school’s Vietnamese Dual Immersion program, which provides students with an opportunity to become bilingual and biliterate in English and Vietnamese and to celebrate the wonderful Vietnamese culture,” Griffith said.
In the 2017-18 school year, the school district launched its first Vietnamese dual immersion language program at Murdy and became the second district in Orange County — and the fourth in the nation — to offer the program. It was a natural fit, as the elementary school is located in Little Saigon and about 70 percent of its student population is of Vietnamese descent.