Story and Photos by Cailey McDermott

Hot glue, masking tape and excited chatter filled Sally Tamelers’ classroom at Longfellow Elementary School Feb. 1. Her third-grade students were busy making a dragon to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Salida Creativity Lab Artistic Director Tina Gramann helped the eager students put the finishing touches on their costumes.

Jessi Wilkins, 8, attaches a foam nose to  a dragon mask.










Salida Creativity Lab Art Director Tina Gramann and Longfellow third-grader Henry Palka, 9, add holding sticks that will form a dragon body.

Gramann received a grant from the Salida Council for the Arts to provide third-graders with instruction and materials to create dragon costumes. More than 200 students from Children’s Discovery Ranch, Longfellow Elementary and Salida Montessori Charter School participated.

While attaching features to a blue dragon’s head, Graysa Kindle, 8, said the costume was “coming along,” even though “it’s hard to figure out where to put stuff.” Kindle learned that the Chinese New Year celebration includes lots of bright red color, which is believed to frighten “big, scary monsters,” and that in Chinese culture it’s common to paint your front door red.


Tina Gramann uses a stapler to attach the dragon’s body to the head. Mateo Tressler, 8, wears the dragon mask.

Kaija Hinkle, 8, paused for a moment to say she learned the Chinese New Year is celebrated on the first new moon of the new calendar year.

The culmination of this month-long project will be a Chinese New Year parade and celebration on Feb. 4 in the Longfellow Elementary School gym at 6 p.m. Following the parade, the community celebration will include family activities, music and a potluck dinner.


Spikes decorate the back of a dragon costume made by Ms. Tamelers’ third-grade Longfellow Elementary art class.


Avery Reeder, 8, smiles and holds the section of a dragon she made with fellow third-graders in her class at Longfellow Elementary School Feb. 1.