Polk County students to strut their Chinese language skills in statewide contest April 11

Published 10:00 pm Friday, April 10, 2015

Four students from Polk County High School will be competing this weekend in a statewide Chinese language competition in Raleigh. Drew Bailey, Brett Phipps, Zoe Parsons and Brianna Richardson have been selected as finalists from among 400 competitors across North Carolina.


The Sixth Annual Chinese Language Speech Contest is sponsored by North Carolina State University’s (NCSU) Confucius Institute. It will be held from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday, April 11 on the NCSU campus in Bostian Hall, Room 3712. Each finalist prepares and memorizes a two to three minute speech in Mandarin to deliver before a panel of judges. Winners will be announced and awards presented immediately following the students’ speeches.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox


Polk County High School, with a population of about 600 students, earned four of just 30 finalist slots in the intermediate and beginner categories of the Chinese Speech Contest.


How did this happen? In 2010, Polk County Superintendent Bill Miller was among the first leaders in North Carolina to sign on to an innovative Chinese language and culture program through the Center for International Understanding (CIU).  Polk County High School is now one of CIU’s 44 Confucius Classrooms throughout the state. The program promotes authentic Chinese language and culture learning by utilizing guest teachers from China. There are now more than 8,500 K-12 students in North Carolina studying Chinese through CIU’s Confucius Classrooms – CIU’s program accounts for more than 80 percentof all students studying Chinese in the state.


Ms. Lou Qiaoying is the Chinese guest teacher at Polk County High School and all four students competing in the upcoming Chinese Speech Contest are in her first-year Chinese class.


CIU Director of Education Julie McGaha says including Chinese culture and language in the school curriculum helps prepare students for a global workforce.

“It is so gratifying to see these students gaining global knowledge and skills – and to have an arena where they can really showcase their Chinese abilities,” McGaha said. “North Carolina needs students who are able to work with people from other countries and who are proficient in foreign languages in order to help our state succeed in the global economy.”
McGaha said the Confucius Classroom program also benefits the Chinese guest teachers, who get a better understanding of American culture and the differences between educational systems in North Carolina and their home country.


The Center for International Understanding promotes awareness, expands understanding and empowers action through global education. Its programs for business, policy and education leaders aim to make North Carolina the most globally engaged state in the nation. Founded in 1979, CIU is part of the University of North Carolina system. Learn more at ciu.northcarolina.edu.


To learn more about the contest visit North Carolina State University’s Confucius Institute online at http://oia.ncsu.edu/confucius-institute-host-6th-annual-north-carolina-chinese-language-contest.

– Submitted by Stephanie Caplan