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Why Choose Creativity

During challenging times, it can be easy to become paralyzed, due to uncertainty. Unfortunately, this mentality can translate to our children being sedentary as well.  Trying times are actually good times to fight the lack of inertia and get creative. There are several reasons to pursue a creative outlet such as visual arts during this time.

First, creative time is productive time. Imagine that rather than sitting around, your child is actively engaging in a hands-on project.  While providing a creative outlet, it allows them to learn, problem solve, and have a sense of accomplishment.

Second, a creative outlet can help to make sense of emotions. If a child misses a friend or special activities, or does not fully understand why they cannot travel to see distant family, they can translate these emotions to creative expression. Rather than lashing out or hiding out in their rooms, they can productively share how they feel and concerns they have through artistic endeavors.

Third, creative expression can help to expand your reality. While being cooped up, creativity provides breathing room; it opens our hearts and our minds to possibilities.  Particularly during quarantine, where there are not places to go or more physically active options to pursue, creativity allows for travel of the mind and eases cabin fever.

If you are looking for a creative outlet for your child that you do not need to facilitate, look no further than The Cathay School Virtual Arts Summer Camps. Camp subjects range from traditional drawing and painting courses to digital art, to recycled art, and fashion. Take a look and register today:!

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Help Navigating the Web

The world wide web contains a vast expanse of information and content. During this pandemic when parents want to find wholesome materials for their children it can be difficult to sift through all the options. Yet quality matters. Luckily you can let educational professionals do the dirty work for you; a.k.a., research and select the high-quality content for your child receives.

Educational centers such as The Cathay School provide carefully curated virtual early childhood courses. While these courses cannot be “equivalent to preschool”(naeyc), they do provide the routine, multi-sensory input, and social interaction that a young children needs in their lives. Cathay virtual early childhood courses will include developmentally appropriate activities from each educational domain, including language arts, fine and gross motor skills, visual arts, STEM, and Chinese.

How do you know Cathay is reliable and selects the materials best for your child? The courses are taught by highly qualified instructors with early childhood experience, and contain researched backed curriculum and content, and interactive and engaging activities to stimulate the mind and encourage creativity. 

Courses are offered six days a week, mornings and afternoons, so you can select the times and subjects that would work best for you and your children.  To find out more and register you can visit: 

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Cathay’s Connected World 2020

By CAPA JRC Reporter Claire Yu

During the coronavirus outbreak, everyone, adults and children alike, wants to contribute to the community. Fortunately, the Cathay School, also known as the Washington Cathay Future Center, has a platform just for that! 

WCFC hosted a virtual talent show called Cathay’s Connected World 2020 from April 1 to April 30 to spread hope during COVID-19. Anyone from ages 2-18 and their families could participate by submitting a video of themselves showcasing talent in their choice of art form. 

At the end of each video, viewers are encouraged to donate through the Cathay Future GoFundMe page. All of the proceeds will go towards the largest charity institution worldwide, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to support scientific organizations in finding a cure to the virus. “I thought we could…guide kids to pay attention to social charity, [which] is a good thing,” said Avery Wan, principal of WCFC. 

The Cathay School initially invited special guests, including Ms. Lei Gu and her guzheng students, Ms. Leslie Smile Hoyles and her violin students, and the Young Artists Music Society to take part in the talent show and spread the word to more children. Over 50 videos with over 55 performers have been featured, with the youngest participant being only two and a half years old! Wan estimates that by the end of the talent show, there may be up to 80 to 100 participants in total. The diverse performances range from solos to quintets, from classical Western music to traditional Chinese music, and even from wushu to drawing. To watch the talent show videos, please visit the WCFC YouTube Channel.

According to Wan, many kids practiced daily to put on their best show for the audience. Some even filmed multiple videos demonstrating their different artistic abilities. “I think [what is] most interesting is listening to why the performers selected the songs that they did,” said Melissa Eisen, WCFC program manager. 

The final goal is a total of 5,000 dollars in donations. As of May 1st, the Cathay School has already raised more than 4,600 dollars! 

Wan and Eisen believe the reactions from the community have been positive. “There have been many kind and encouraging messages posted on social media,” Wan said gratefully. Eisen explained that each participant has become “almost like an athlete that people cheer for.”

Regarding future plans, Wan says that some parents have suggested holding a group performance with every participant from the talent show after the pandemic ends to commemorate “our contributions to the community during this difficult time”. They are still in the midst of preparations. 

Wan is extremely thankful for every single performer, parent, volunteer, and supporter involved with Cathay’s Connected World 2020. “I think everyone can find their own position and their own role in this charity event, and then we can build a more just and peaceful world.”

This article was provided by Chinese American Parents Association Junior Reporter Club (CAPA JRC) with members who interviewed, audio recorded, wrote, translated, and video recorded. CAPA JRC has 19 Montgomery County middle to high school students. They have created a bilingual platform delivering news and serving the community.


Instagram: @capa_jrcBlog:

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Make Screen Time Valuable Time

In this day and age technology is a pervasive part of our lives, from the minute we get up to a programmed alarm through the activities we engage in after a long day of work or school. Children today have never been in a world without interactive technology (online games, videos, social media) and typically view it as an essential part of life. Parents and educators reasonably are reticent about the extensive use of technology and usually limit the amount of time children can spend in front of a computer, tablet, or cell phone.

But there is a more meaningful way for your children to interact with technology.  It can be used as an effective and beneficial learning tool. 

Imagine your children using part of their screen time to code a website. Students in The Cathay School’s (Cathay) Web Coding and Design course did just that.  They learned coding languages (HTML, CSS, etc.) used by professionals to code a website. Then they used this information to code their own landing page and continued developing their site. More advanced students were even able to learn how to add animation to their sites. Not only were they productive during the course, but many went on to explore the subject further after learning the basics in Cathay’s course.

If you are looking for productive screen time options consider Cathay Virtual Courses found here:

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Local Educational Institution Excels in the Virtual Education Market

As you certainly know by now, every type of business has been greatly affected by Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Businesses that bring together community have particularly suffered. One such business, The Cathay School, Cathay, of Rockville, Maryland has developed a twofold approach to cope with the pandemic: continue to provide education and social interaction through virtual methods and involve the community in actively and creatively combating the virus that has us in this situation in the first place.

Initially, The Cathay School addressed only its current community’s educational needs. Even before public schools developed their distance learning plans, Cathay began running online preschool sessions for its current enrolled students.  Now, in an effort to provide a caring educational community for all of our youngest members, Cathay has begun offering carefully curated virtual early childhood courses to the public. While the courses cannot be “equivalent to preschool” (NAEYC), they provide the routine multi-sensory input and social interaction that young children need in their lives. Cathay virtual early childhood courses provide interactive and engaging developmentally-appropriate activities from each educational domain that stimulate the mind, based upon researched curriculum and content, and taught by highly-qualified instructors with early childhood experience.

In addition to classes aimed at the young audience, Cathay also responded to the pandemic by offering online courses for elementary and middle school students. These courses cover both academic and non-academic subjects ranging from web design to future investors to painting and drawing. These courses similarly have a well-developed curriculum taught by an appropriately-trained staff. To check out and register for Cathay courses online, just visit

To address the pandemic more generally, The Cathay School created Cathay’s Connected World, a virtual talentshow that raises money for combating Covid-19. All proceeds will go towards the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Fund. Through this fund, donors support leading scientific organizations that are developing the most promising diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines, in order to stop the spread of the virus and help speed the return to health of those who are sick. Over 20 local youth from the DMV area have submitted performances for this talent show so far and Cathay has been able to raise over $2,000 towards its goal of $5,000. In order to view performances and contribute you can visit

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Math Kangaroo: Hopping to a Better Understanding of Math

By Courtney Lai, Summer intern

‘Math Kangaroo’ is a funny name, and immediately the image of a hopping marsupial made up or a combination of numbers and symbols may pop up in your mind, you child or children following excitedly behind. But the actuality of that name comes from a seemingly obvious place when you think about it. The competition was created by an Australian mathematician named Peter O’Halloran in the 1980s, and soon was taken up by others, who named it ‘Math Kangaroo’ in honor of its country of origin. 

There are many reasons why this particular competition soared while others may not. Instead of the regular bread and butter spread of math questions laid out in the form of simple numbers, graphs, digits, and symbols, ‘Math Kangaroo’ puts focus on creating engaging and thought-provoking questions. The questions on the test are determined at an annual meeting between all the countries that participate in the competition, over 80 different participating countries create questions administered to the over 6 million students who take the test.

The test isn’t confined to any particular age, anyone from between grade 1 to 12 can take it. For any child who is struggling to see the value of math or what interest it may hold over subjects such as art or social studies, a test that creates questions that are interesting and includes situations that spread their imaginations can help them enjoy the concept of math before they reach the harder parts. Getting a firm grasp of how math can help in day to day situations, when your kids are mostly preoccupied with what the next fun activity will be, will not only help engage them more in mathematics over their peers, but also provide the steady foundation for other subjects that require math as well, such as science or technology. When your child understands the point of learning math and other subjects that rely heavily on it, they will be less likely of getting frustrated with or try to avoid math altogether.

Practice makes Perfect. But practicing without the process of analyzing and reflecting on why a particular challenge was difficult to understand, and learning how to find an easier way to understand a question, doesn’t help with supporting and developing a child’s learning abilities. Instead, practice with the intention of learning different ways to look at a problem helps a child develop crucial critical thinking skills that can help them understand and enjoy mathematics and other sections of STEM. With a guiding hand and a fresh perception, coupled with questions and topics that actually succeed in engaging your child, ‘Math Kangaroo’ can be that hand that helps your child hop to a better future.

To join Math Kangaroo training session in Montgomery County, MD visit to find the right session for your child.

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Stages and Screens: Arnetia Walker’s Fascinating Life

By Gregg Sangillo | July 11, 2017

American University part-time undergraduate Arnetia Walker recently took time off from school to star in a production of an August Wilson play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, in Red Bank, New Jersey. Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, a personal friend of the late Wilson, directed the play.

Arnetia Walker had extensive TV, film, and stage experience before coming to AU as a nontraditional student. © Joe Henson Photography 2007 All Rights reserved

For an accomplished actor with a lengthy Internet Movie Database (IMDb) page, Walker doesn’t let great acting roles pass her by often. And she’s still expanding her repertoire and education. As a nontraditional student, she’s now a senior film and media arts major in AU’s School of Communication. She’s also a literature minor in the College of Arts and Sciences, and she’s hoping to write at length about her experiences. And whatever form it takes-book? screenplay?-she’s going to have a fascinating story to tell.

“I have a wealth of stories in me, and I’ve lived a lifetime. And I wanted to know how to get those stories written down. And that’s something I’ve learned at AU very well,” she says.

Opening Credits

Walker was born in Columbus, Georgia, in the mid-1950s. Walker was just a baby when her mother died, and she never knew her father. An orphan, various family members-aunts, uncles, cousins-helped raise her. “In the South, people just kind of took care of each other-especially in those days,” she says.

But she also describes that period as the “waning years of Jim Crow,” and she remembers going to segregated movie theaters. “We had to sit up in the balcony, and before entering the theater, we [African Americans] had to wait. Black people and white people couldn’t go in together. Even at that young age, it just struck me. Why? Why do I have to wait? I was very excited to go in,” she recalls. “But then once the movie started, all of that just didn’t matter.”

Indeed, she was entranced by the images and sounds of the silver screen. Walker says she knew she wanted to be an actor after watching an arresting Doris Day in Calamity Jane.

Dreams and Dreamgirls

Walker later moved to New York City and graduated from the High School of Performing Arts (the school that inspired the movie Fame). She started building a résumé in the New York theater world, including a small part in a musical version of Two Gentlemen of Verona with Stockard Channing and other future stars. “I was a baby, of course, but this was my training ground,” she says.

She was later cast in the celebrated Broadway musical Dreamgirls. She performed in both New York and Los Angeles, and eventually played all three of the Supremes-inspired parts. Walker was itching to play Effie, until finally getting a call from director Michael Bennett at 4:00 p.m. for a show that night in L.A.


“Michael says, ‘Arnetia, you know how you always wanted to be Effie? You’re on tonight. Get over to the theater,'” Walker recalls. The part was usually played by Jennifer Holliday, a big star at the time. “The announcer said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the role of Effie White will be played by Arnetia Walker.’ People were yelling ‘boo!’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god, how am I going out there?'”

She says she did overcome stage fright, and the audience naturally roots for Effie’s character.

Ready for Prime Time

In the early 1980s, she got a movie part in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas with Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds. She’d eventually land a strong role in the film Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989), and Hollywood took notice. “Soon after that I just started doing lots of television and film, because it opened doors for me,” she says.

She subsequently became one of the regulars on the NBC TV sitcom Nurses. It was a spin-off of the show Empty Nest-which was itself a spin-off of The Golden Girls. “We were in the old Desilu studio. The same one where they taped I Love Lucy,” she explains. “Susan Harris wrote it, and she was a hot writer at that time. I thought, ‘Wow, yeah, I think I’m on my way here.'”

Later, she was cast as Mrs. Ross in the TV series, Popular, and she appears in some of the best-known TV shows of the 1990s and early 2000s: Everybody Loves Raymond, NYPD Blue, Living Single, Just Shoot Me!, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, to name a few.

The Fresh Prince was one of her favorite experiences. She guest-starred with music legend Isaac Hayes. (He kept asking: “‘Baby, am I on yet? Is this my scene?’ ‘Not yet! Not yet, Isaac!'”) And she was overwhelmed by the generosity of Will Smith, who included and thanked every guest star.

Walker has some fun anecdotes about interactions with Hollywood luminaries. She fondly remembers meeting Elizabeth Taylor and Walter Matthau, and she’d see Dick Van Dyke picking up his dry cleaning. She had an unusual experience meeting one of her idols, Bette Davis. “My publicist said, ‘Ms. Davis, I want you to meet Arnetia Walker, she’s one of the stars of Dreamgirls,'” Walker recounts. “Bette looks at me, takes a puff of her cigarette, and says, ‘So…what?'”

Spaces to Fill

Yet even with the glamour and grandeur of Hollywood, it had its drawbacks. She felt studio execs were quick to typecast actors, and she was frequently asked to play a seductress. Likewise, she faced an obstacle that, for the wider public, is only now getting the attention it deserves: the lack of roles for minorities.

“That was one of the other reasons that I went back to school, because if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” she opines. “I didn’t want to complain about, ‘Oh, there are no roles for people of color.’ Well, you know what? That means that there’s a space there. There’s a need there. Let’s fill it. So, I had to learn how to write.”

A New Role

Love and family would also change her life. She is married to journalist Elliott Francis, whose work as a news anchor brought them to the Washington, D.C. area. They have a son who is also attending college now. Walker attends AU part-time, as she also has a job teaching drama to kids.

At AU, she’s able to learn from Hollywood experienced-professors (Russell Williams). And after realizing that the novel Wench was written by her professor Dolen Perkins-Valdez, she asked Perkins-Valdez for an autograph.

Even with her success, Walker says it took time to believe in herself. Like many actors, she’d get frustrated with hearing “no” after auditions, and many casting directors frequently wanted a “Whoopi Goldberg type.”

“I’m only my type,” she says now. “We come here with everything we need to flourish and soar. But somewhere in the mix, we lose that knowledge and forget that we are enough. We are enough for everything we want to accomplish, and it took me a long time to realize that.”

The original article can be found here:

Your child can join Ms. Arnetia Walker for Musical Theater instruction this summer at The Cathay School in Rockville, MD.

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Life Lessons from Chess

By Richard Tan, National Chess Master

Having mastered the game of chess over 6 years of playing in tournaments, I can now understand the profound impact it has had on my life and my thinking. I started out like every other chess player, thinking it was just a fun hobby and I would just be playing during my free weekends. Eventually, the player has an obsession with the game. One feels the need to dedicate their time at perfection. The game taught me many important lessons about concentration, calculation, and discipline. 

Concentration is a necessity of playing chess, a skill learned through the desire to win. A player cannot advance beyond the beginner level if they only look at the present and do not consider future decisions when they are making a move. The same is true for life: short term pleasures must always be subordinate to long term success if a person is to be happy. Like many kids in elementary school I was very energetic, often finding difficulty in keeping quiet and sitting still during class. Chess was a major breakthrough for me. At tournaments, my desire to win occupied my mind to such an extent, that I was able to sit still for many hours at a time. The chess player is absorbed by the game. Similar to sleeping, a game may take up to 8 hours yet feel like it was only 1 hour. This concentration that I learned subconsciously has helped me since in my regular life when focus is a necessity, particularly during test taking. 

Calculation is another skill learned by chess players. Any tournament level player must see at least 2 or 3 moves in advance anytime they make a move in the present. The moves made earlier will affect the decisions made later, and good decisions made earlier in the game helps decisions later in the game. The exact same statement could be made for decisions made in life. A thinking person cannot simply wade through life on their first desire or whim they feel will make them happy. They must consider logic and consequences at all time with no exception. 

Discipline is another necessity both on and off the board. Tournament play is 10% of the time that occupies a player’s time. Practice and preparation for perfection is the precursor for success at the board. A player that does not study how to play well, does not go over their past mistakes, does not examine what good players do compared to weaker players, will not do well in tournaments. Dedication to training well is a skill often learned through failure. Many times I have skipped studying chess and my results at tournaments have reflected accordingly. Same goes with life: if you fail to practice, success will appear as an impossible goal. Frustration is an experience every chess player will inevitably face. Failure to perform well drags the player’s mind into their darkest thoughts. Personally, I have seriously thought about quitting chess twice before becoming a master. Proper practice and preparation have a direct correlation with playing well, and this realization comes to every person, chess player or not. Growth comes out of this frustration, and the mind can transcend the suffering to perform better. 

There are many difficult aspects about being a chess player: pain and loss are an inevitable consequence of play. But if the young player is willing to learn from their mistakes, they will have achieved a skill that is necessary in life at an earlier stage. They will be mentally and psychologically, miles above their peers.However, there are also many glorious aspects about being a chess player. Me and many of my friends can tell about the overwhelming number of trophies we have. I have more than 30 personally and the mantle above the fireplace has been stuffed with trophies for a long time. Many tournaments also have money prizes, some even going up to thousands of dollars, an exciting prospect for a pre-adolescent person. I have made so many friends at tournaments and memories too. The beauty of the game, the pains, the gains, the losses, the wins, the darkness, the glory, and much more have taught me an incredible amount of how to live and be happy. The game will be a part of me for the rest of my life, and I hope you are willing to play and experience the same love for the game I have experienced.

Mr. Tan instructs all The Cathay School After School chess classes.

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Full STEAM Ahead

Throughout the past few years we have been touting the importance of STEAM education. No, we aren’t talking about the substance you see coming from a hot shower; we’re talking about Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math education, an approach to learning that emphasizes inquiry building, project based learning, and use of multiple intelligences.

Most people know what STEM stands for–Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math–as these subjects are crucial to today’s schools curricula as the world sees more new and exciting innovations every day. Schools and educators alike champion STEM programs in part because the US is falling behind other countries in these areas, and it’s clear we need to start with our young people to catch up to the rest of the world. While there are many benefits to STEM programs, STEAM is on the rise. As we continue to recognize the importance of arts for children, both in and outside the classroom, we’ve seen the idea of STEAM gain in popularity…and for good reason.

While STEM is based in practical, logic-based subjects, STEAM would introduce a more creative aspect to the regimen. Not only would this appeal to and challenge a wider range of students, but studies have found that “half brain” education (classes that only target either right-brained or left-brained individuals) leaves students at a disadvantage. By adding art in the mix we are not just encouraging students to think outside of the box we are creating boxes and then telling students to think outside of those and challenging children to be fearless, restless and visionary.

The early years are such a critical period for knowledge and character acquisition. Why not start children at a young age with this cross curricular model? If you are looking for places and activities that will help broaden your child’s horizons and round out their skills, you can start by joining The Cathay School and AdventureMomsDC at Full STEAM Ahead , a fun and creative exploration of the world around us for children (ages 2 – 5 years) and families!

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Create. Make. Lead. Girl Power!

By Lindsey Turnbull, owner of MissHeard Media

Create.Make.Lead. is a week-long exploration focusing on self-discovery and creation to foster empowered, girl-positive communities, led by 10 year girl empowerment veteran Lindsey Turnbull of

In this camp, young women will learn about themselves and the communities they are a part of. As part of their camp experience, girls will get in touch with and engage in creative, media, and technology projects to discover how they can be leaders in their community.

The week-long camp will blend explorations in self-discovery and hands-on activities in technology with research, activities, and solo and group creative projects. (And lots of games!)

Here’s an example from last year! One of the highlights of the week was creating group poems. Here is one of our group poems, read by each camper.

Take-Aways from this camp include:

– Increased leadership skills
– Space for girls to learn, explore, and connect
– Enhanced socio-emotional skills
– Greater self-esteem
– Custom made journals and self-expression tools
– Hone skills and confidence needed to make voices heard
– Entrepreneur basics
– Practice supporting one another in teams
– Explorations in community change

This camp is led by teen girl whisperer and MissHeardMedia founder, Lindsey Turnbull. All materials and supplies are provided.

The camp is targeted for rising sixth graders through tenth grade girls.

Our camps have sold out for the last two years, so register early to ensure a seat!

Here’s a recap from 2018.

Create. Make. Lead! Girl Power Summer Camp with MissHeard Media at The Cathay School. There are three sessions to choose from!
Camps have sold out for the last two years, so register early to ensure a seat!

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