2019 Read-a-thon Wrap Up!

Last Thursday, April 25, Northwest Chinese Academy students celebrated the end of our annual Read-a-thon fundraiser. Coming off the heels of a successful National Reading Month in March (where some students logged over 10,000 pages of reading), Read-a-thon pushed students to read, read, and read some more, all while competing for prizes and raising money for NWCA.

Read-a-thon officially kicked off on April 9th with a full school assembly, where our Head of School, Martha Ortiz, outlined all of the fun Read-a-thon events planned as well as how Read-a-thon works. One of these activities, NWCA Reading Buddies, had already begun! Reading Buddies had older and younger classes spend time together in the library, in which the older students read to the younger students. The Reading Buddies time was embraced by all of the students, and it was heartwarming to see all of the students enjoying each others’ company.

Read-a-thon also featured D.E.A.R. Fridays, where from 3-3:30 on Friday Afternoons, students dropped everything and read. Never has campus ever been so quiet! Students were cozied up in every possible nook reading in both Chinese and English, while preschool, pre-K, and kindergarten students had extra storytime.

Then on April 25, in order to reward our students’ vigilant reading and fundraising, NWCA celebrated! Students were encouraged to come to school in pajamas, and students dressed to the nines in onesies of every shape and color. In the afternoon, students gathered in the Community Room, blankets and stuffed animals in hand, to see who had taken top prize! Before the ceremony, there was an all-school “Read-in” where each student read with their Reading Buddy, then in their pairs took turns contributing to our “How Many Kinds Words?” poster, and after the ceremony, students were able to relax and unwind by watching a movie together. Altogether, NWCA students raised over $1000 dollars for the school during Read-a-thon!

There were two different Read-a-thon categories where students could win prizes; highest number of minutes spent reading, and highest number of money earned through pledges. Here are the winners:

Highest Individual Total Minutes Read

Grades PS-K

Kathryn J. (PreK, 395 minutes)
Mireya X. (Preschool, 360 minutes)
Felicity R. (Preschool, 180 minutes)

Grades 1-5
Brayden S. (Grade 1, 2172 minutes)
Scarlett S. (Grade 5, 1030 minutes)
Lana W. (Grade 2, 620 minutes)

Highest Individual Total Pledges

Grades PS-K
Edith C. (PreK, $115)
Mireya X. (Preschool, $84)
Kathryn J. (PreK, $60)

Grades 1-5
Lana W. (Grade 2, $186)
Scarlett S. (Grade 5, $100)
Alana I. (Grade 4, $90)

Thank you to Aurora Ma for taking photos during the ceremony!

NWCA Competes and Sweeps PSU Confucius Institute Speech/Talent Contest

This past Saturday, students from a number of Portland-area schools gathered at Portland State University’s Karl Miller Center for Business to compete in the Confucius Institute’s annual Speech and Talent Contest. Northwest Chinese Academy students in first through fifth grade, alumni, and even our Head of School, swept the competition and took top honors in three categories: a Mandarin Bee, a Mandarin Speech Contest, as well as a Chinese talent show.

First up was the Speech contest: fifth graders Ciena Harmon, Nicholas, Scarlett Stebbins and Ana Sofia Contreras represented current NWCA Students. Elliot Ma ‘17, a current student at the International School of Beaverton, participated as an alumnus, and our very own Head of School Martha Ortiz also participated in the Adult category.

Ciena Harmon opened the competition with a speech about her best friends, a topic Ana Sofia Contreras also spoke about. Ciena, speaking mile-a-minute Mandarin, set the tone for an impressive NWCA showing in the speech competition. Nicholas gave a passionate speech about Southern Song Dynasty poet Yang Wanli’s poem “舟过安仁”, describing two fishermen with child-like easy going personalities. To the surprise of much of the audience, our own Head of School competed in the speech competition, discussing her favorite chengyu, a Chinese four character idiom. Scarlett Stebbins talked about her hobbies.

Upstairs in the Mandarin Bee, 17 students showcased their Mandarin vocabulary, starting with simple words like numbers and colors before progressing to phrases and sentences. NWCA students represented more than half of those participating in the Mandarin Bee, and the final five students competing were all NWCA students. These five students’ level of Mandarin was so high that they exhausted all of the Mandarin words and phrases that the organizers had prepared for the bee. These students were then quizzed from high-level Mandarin textbooks, being asked to translate sentences that became longer and more descriptive as the competition progressed. In the end, there were two students, Summer Wu, and Alana Iglesias, who were both declared winners of the Mandarin Bee due to the fact that the organizers could not stump these girls with Mandarin sentences they did not know! Genevieve Kwong, who came in right behind them in third place in the Bee, also did particularly well.

The talent show featured a diverse lineup of acts, including singing, shadow puppetry, Chinese folk dancing, and one participant who sang, played piano, played trumpet, and did a gymnastics routine all in one act! Ciena Harmon sang a Chinese song, while Audrey Perkins and Ethaniel Travis performed Chinese ethnic minority folk dances that our Confucius Institute teacher intern, Xiaogui laoshi, had taught them.

At the awards ceremony, NWCA students took first place in all three categories of competition. As previously mentioned, Alana Iglesias and Summer Wu shared top prize in the Mandarin Bee. Audrey Perkins and Ethaniel Travis took first place in the talent show category, and Ciena Harmon was deemed the winner of the speech contest.

Placing second in their respective categories were Head of School Martha Ortiz, Nicholas, and Scarlett Stebbins in the speech competition and Ciena Harmon in the talent competition. Ana Sofia Contreras and Elliot Ma placed third in the speech competition, while Genevieve Kwong came in third in the Mandarin Bee.

Congratulations to all who participated and let’s repeat the sweep next year!

Thank you to Jingzi Zhao for your photography!

China Trip 2015 Highlights

May 2015: Welcome to the second entry of the Principal’s Blog! Over Spring Break, 10 of our students, their parents and one teacher traveled to Beijing and Xian, China. We are extremely proud of our students. They applied all of their skills learned at NWCA during their exploratory trip to China and had a whirlwind experience in China.

I asked the students to write essays about their favorite travel experiences, here are a few reflections that stood out to me.




“This China trip was my very first time I ever went to China, and it was the most fun trip of my life! I had fun and got to experience a lot of fun things like bargaining, going to a Chinese school, shopping going on the subways, etc. Another part I liked about the trip was the Great Wall. To tell you the truth, I never thought the Great Wall was that interesting, until I really saw it. After that day in China, I always just wanted to go back”
– Elizabeth, 5th Grade



“We took a subway to one of my favorite places, the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven is a massive maze of buildings and walls. In the park, there were many people playing badminton, table tennis and practicing Kung Fu. We walked and walked. The buildings were red, blue, green, yellow and gold. We also visited Beijing Zoo and Wangfujing Market where we interviewed Chinese citizens.”
– Elliot, 3rd Grade


In addition to the student essays, we also asked a parent to reflect on her experiences during the China Trip.


“History was only a small part of our China trip experience – the language aspect flipped the parent-child relationship in many situations, particularly in restaurants. I remember one kid saying, “I’ve never seen the grown-ups so helpless.” This is when we couldn’t read the menu, ask the wait staff questions, or order food. We were in the mercy of our children to take the lead, and they did an awesome job! There was no doubt that the language skills learned at NWCA positioned these kids to confidently converse with native Chinese people in China.”
– Angela, 5th Grade Student Parent


For the full versions of these reflections and more pictures, please read our newsletter, The Window – May 2015.

Stacy Payne, Principal, Northwest Chinese Academy


October 2014: Welcome to the first entry of the Principal’s Blog, where I hope to share some insight into the unique benefits of Northwest Chinese Academy.  To get this started, I thought I would share a recent email I received from a former NWCA student. In his note, Matias enforced what I already know – students who graduate from Northwest Chinese Academy receive an education that prepares them to excel in their future endeavors.  Not just in Chinese studies, but in all their subjects.  We’re so proud of our students and love hearing how they continue to use what they experienced while students at NWCA.


Hello Mrs. Stacy,

I just took a Chinese class at a Saturday school with a lot of other kids. It was a 6th grade class, the school had started the Saturday before so they had a test this Saturday. I took the test with the other kids, but the test was really easy. It wouldn’t have been easy if I hadn’t gone to NWCA. I am so happy that I went to NWCA, because it had prepared me really well. Thank you for my experience at North West Chinese Academy.

NWCA not only prepared me well in Chinese but also in Math. My dad helped me get into the advanced math course here and in just the first two weeks of school I have found I am the best.  I think Math has been easy for me at all the schools I have attended since NWCA because your curriculum is really good. But the advanced class moves relatively fast, we’ll see if I can keep up.

Thank you, Matias
For another alumni story, read this issue of our Window Newsletter.

Stacy Payne, Principal, Northwest Chinese Academy