A Look Back at the Past Year of MDL at CHCCS

Greetings MDL Parents! We hope you are settling into the first week of summer with ease and grace and the kiddos have lots of fun and great experiences ahead! It was a disappointment that we had to cancel the end-of-the-year MDL potluck due to very unfavorable weather forecasts, but we thank Samantha Fiske for her organizing efforts all the same!

The 2016–17 school year was a great one for MDL students at Glenwood Elementary; here’s a quick look back at this great year now behind us.


The year started off with a bang with the announcement of a very generous unsolicited donation from the R. E. and E. F. Crane Foundation, an organization set up to further organizations focused on education, arts, and music. Added to the yearly fundraiser held just before the end of 2016, this money doubled our balance, allowing us to now have a one-year security buffer as well as to meet the teachers’ requests for books and online resources without bringing our balance down to close to the red.

On one of the first chilly days of the year we met and shared dishes at the annual fall MDL potluck; special thanks Vanessa DeJongh for organizing that. On an uncommonly cold day in December, MDL students and parents marched in the Chapel Hill Holiday Parade, passing out fortune cookies and informational bookmarks. Special thanks to Alyssa Crockett for planning this and everyone who helped and attended!

Also in December we held our annual MDL family and business fundraiser and exceeded our goal! This money went to Level Chinese books for the students, as well as the many incidental costs of promoting our program throughout the year and hosting our potluck community events. Thank you to everyone who donated! Visit our Sponsors page for more.


January 28 was the Chinese New Year and to usher in the year of the rooster, MDL students and parents participated with several other Chinese schools/organizations in the area in the very successful, first annual Chapel Hill LIGHTUP Lantern Festival at University Place in Chapel Hill. Parents tended a Glenwood MDL booth with information and crafts (making gorgeous little goldfish); students gave special class performances; some created special lantern designs for auction, earning us a sizeable sum; and parents and students participated in traditional Chinese dragon dance. This inaugural event was very well attended throughout the day: a great omen for many more successful LIGHTUP festivals to come! A HUGE, HUGE thanks goes to Linda Trees, our Outreach Coordinator for this tremendous effort, which took months to organize. Thanks also to all the parents who helped out, the students who performed, those who made lanterns, and everyone who attended! See the previous newsletter entry (below) for more on LIGHTUP!

Right around this same time, leading up to the lottery opening for rising kindergarteners to enter MDL, we sent out an informational e-flyer to about twenty-five preschools in Durham and about thirty-five preschools in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. This was all based on the efforts of Linda Trees the year before.  We also held an information session at the Chapel Hill Chinese School and a promotion on WeChat.

After all these promotions, the number of applicants in the lottery this year was 69, which is well over the amount of spaces we have to fill. These events also helped increase traffic to this website, which will in turn help to improve our search result rankings little by little, so that it can become a better marketing tool as time goes on. Thanks everyone, again, who participated in these activities! Special thanks go to Vanessa DeJongh for designing bookmarks, flyers, and e-flyers for these promotions.


After some concern from parents around the end of the first semester about such things as the new Standards Based assessments we were seeing on our report cards this year, Dr. Rydell Harrison and Dr. Elaine Watson-Grant from central administration agreed to meet with parents for a special MAC meeting to address our concerns. The Standards Based assessment was something that affects all CHCCS students, not just MDL students, and the conversation, after a very illuminating history and explanation of the CHCCS MDL program from Dr. Watson-Grant, focused mostly on middle school classes, their student numbers after natural attrition, and how to keep the middle school classes viable for upcoming middle school students. This is a problem that is expected to fix itself once the first of the new two-track classes gets to middle school (after two more school years), doubling the MDL student population feeding into middle school. In the meantime, we are trying to do what we can to offer Chinese to those students who will not benefit from this population increase from one track to two tracks.

Parents Kari Hamel, Anna Jalowska, and Annie Xu have been meeting with administrators, and it looks like even though the numbers didn’t make it, they will still be offering some kind of Chinese learning option at Philips Middle School this coming year, the idea being that the solution found will also serve any and all middle school students who wish to continue learning Chinese in middle school during the following school year (2018–19), the last grade of students of the one-track population. It was also determined that how registration rolled out at the orientation meeting for choosing electives at Philips had significant flaws and these were brought to the attention of Dr. Harrison. This is something that will be addressed next fall, before registration next year starts in February.

It was right around this time that the idea for a special MAC task force came forth. Several parents  have indicated their interest in joining this new group; if you are interested, you can still join. E-mail us at GLMAC.chair@gmail.com. This task force aims to meet (at least online) over the summer to assess what general issues we are facing and how to address them. With this, we should look forward to starting the school year with a clear agenda and a course of action to implement.


Lastly, we would like to thank all the MAC officers for their dedication this year. Luckily for us, Linda Trees plans to serve again next year as Outreach Coordinator, but her schedule is a lot busier than when she first created this position and she would like to have a co-coordinator or 2–3 Outreach Committee members for next year. We are very thankful for all the hard work that Diana Dolinsky has done serving her two years as MAC Secretary. This position is open for next year. Thank you very much to Kristie Mather, MAC Treasurer; we are very happy that she will be staying on to serve her second year with us next year.  Anna Jalowska, whose child has graduated from Glenwood to Philips, will be serving as MAC Middle School Liaison, something that is greatly needed. I (Jack Sutherland) will be serving my second year as (native-English-speaking) MAC Co-chair next year and am very much looking forward to it.

Thank you also to past co-chairs Susan Swafford and Alyssa Crockett who have generously offered their experience and insight, for which we are very grateful.

And last but most certainly not least, we give a very special thank you to Helen Mu for all the hard work and dedication she has committed to our program as (Chinese-speaking) MAC Co-chair. It’s hard to imagine what these past two years would have been without her and it’s sad to see her tenure end, but we also look forward to seeing who will fill this position next year.


Open MAC officer positions will be filled at the first MAC meeting of the next school year, September 13.