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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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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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My Summer Trip to Liberia

With the support of The Cathay School and the hard work of fundraising events led by the SAMS Jr. Leader Club, SAMS Family Foundation raised over $1000 for the purchase of supplies and equipment for the expansion of STEM curriculum at Sherman Adams Sr. Memorial School, located in Duazon, Liberia.

Kristin Zhu, a member of the SAMS Jr. Leader Club, accompanied her mother this summer to visit the school, teach classes, and distribute the equipment purchased from fundraising.

By Kristin Zhu, sibling of our camper & partner for Cathay’s Connected World

After over 16 hours of flight over the Atlantic and Europe, on July 15th, 2018, my mother and I finally arrived in Monrovia, Liberia. Although the flight and security checks were tedious, we were welcomed with comforting smiles and hugs by our amazing hostess, Mrs. Kate Adams.

I started to learn about the school when my mother first mentioned it at home. She told me of how Dr. and Mrs. Adams returned to Liberia and founded the SAMS school in Duazon Township, Liberia to address the need for primary education and learning opportunities in the area. Knowing the necessity of a primary education, I became interested in doing something to help the school and its students. I recruited students and organized several fund-raising events. After communicating with Mrs. Adams, we decided to help strengthen the school’s STEM program by building a lab dedicated to science. We collected books and monetary donations, purchased STEM books, ordered lab equipment and downloaded school curriculum.

Although it took us three months to prepare the materials and curriculum for the week, nothing could’ve prepared me for the wonderful welcome from the staff and students. Even though it was their summer break in a rain swept season, the students came to class everyday with an eager and focused passion to learn new knowledge. Their enthusiasm to learn Math, Art, Music, Biology, Astronomy, and Geology blew me away. Even though they didn’t have WiFi and numerous other ammenities, the staff still tried their hardest to help me with presentations and aided me during my teaching sessions. Throughout the week, I learned new songs, new teaching methods, and even new shoe making methods! The kindness of the local populace along with the lovely environment the school had provided made this trip a truly remarkable experience.

The hardest part of the trip was saying goodbye. The students and the staff had also prepared an incredible farewell ceremony. While hugging the students, teachers, and staff, I couldn’t help but remember the beautiful experiences we had. We sang together, laughed together, and we learned together. Knowing now of the incredible work of Mrs. Adams in the face of such unfavorable situations, I am inspired now to take more action on my own. In the next year, I will look forward to recruiting more students as advocates and volunteers for the SAMS school, creating new programs to assist students in need, fundraising even more to help the school provide for its students, and hopefully return to Liberia to teach the phenomenal students again.

This post was originally created for The SAMS Family Foundation

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Social Justice Has Major Benefits

The three core aims of Washington Cathay Future Center (WCFC) are to cultivate students’ artistic expression, intellectual development, and leadership potential. We feel that one of the BEST ways to contribute to this mission is through involving our community in social justice work. Social justice not only benefits those on the outside that the individual is working with or for, but it also provides for strong intellectual and emotional development for the practitioner.

Students who volunteer are more successful in school.  From having more experiences to associate texts they read and paragraphs they write, to being a better team participant in group assignments and projects, students who participate in social justice activities are better equipped to tackle classwork and project assignments. The Corporation for National & Community Service summed it up well when they wrote

Students who report doing better in school are more likely to be volunteers than students who report doing less well…

Additionally, social justice work is beneficial to student’s emotional and physical health. Students who volunteer have an “increased sense of social responsibility”,, and a stronger understanding of injustice in the world, because they have personally connected to those they want to give back to. According to,

the benefits of volunteering in adolescence may even reduce their risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

So why not start your child as young as possible with participating in social justice activities?! We have designed the Cathay’s Connected World to actively engage our community in meaningful activities that will not only educate our community itself but will connect them to communities around the world that are committed to the same dream of providing quality education for all.

Join us April 8th for our first event:

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Education CAN Happen Outside of School

When it comes to discussions about education we often refer to the traditional school setting. We envision a classroom with a group of peers around the same age with an adult instructor guiding the students at the front of the room. And when we speak of ways to improve education, we refer to needed adjustments to our schools to enhance student performance. While it is noble to speak about improving education through the schools, a primary source for education, it ignores a plethora of other ways and places that students learn.

For many students mastering of a subject happens outside the school classroom. New experiences, unique interactions, and life situations provide for valuable education. Whether through impromptu learning opportunities throughout life or in planned informal educational experiences, the students gain richer understanding of the subject at hand. Life-long learning, the information that we gather and utilize throughout life typically happens in the informal settings.

These nontraditional settings that support a culture of learning are the key to providing learning opportunities that may not be available in the classroom. Not all students learn the same and not all learning objectives can be covered and comprehended in a traditional classroom, thus alternative learning opportunities should be provided to students who require alternative leaning styles. Valuable teachable moments, individualized and personalized leaning can be found in a learning center, such as Cathay Future, that will not only support the everyday classroom initiatives but advance core skills.