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L3 Innovation Challenge: The Human-Side of STEM

By Le Dong Hai “DoHa” Nguyen

Best described as a design-thinking bootcamp that mimics a hackathon, the L3 Innovation Challenge is an annual competition hosted by YouthCities in partnership with Boston Children Hospital and LabCentral. During this ten-week bootcamp, students work in teams to create technological solutions to real-world problems. This year, students had to use smart textiles to create prototypes and actual products that addressed pediatric healthcare concerns. Seven students from CATS participated in the competition and, on November 14th, presented their ideas to a panel of health care industry specialists, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists.

CATS students attending the L3 Innovation Challenge 2018 at LabCentral, Cambridge, MA

The spotlight is on, and the eyes of more than one hundred people are on us. Holding the 3D Prototype of SOGAI, which stands for System Of Glucose-Detection & Automatic Insulin-Injection, we gradually move onto the stage for our final presentation in the Youth CITIES competition. Adrenaline that had been accumulating for the past seven weeks of the competition urged every single word on the tip of our tongue to erupt.

This is the story of DoHa Nguyen, Jiho Choi, and Serafina Mei, who have applied Smart Textile, 3D Printing technology and comprehensive research on type 2 diabetes to create the SOGAI and mySOGAI app. The project got the team into the Final Round and was verbally commended by the judge-Dr. Kate Donovan, the Director of Immersive Technologies at Boston Children Hospital, as the Best Research.

Five other CATS students had revolutionary products as well. Anastasia Dvoryanchikova and Alex Shevtcova’s Diaperstic earned Anastasia the individual Award of Rising Innovator. Mia Huynh, Malak Elaouinate and Luisa Maia were complimented by Mr. Peter Parker, the CEO and Co-Founder of LabCentral, for the highly visual prototype of their project, TEMPA Temperature Regulating Children Suit and MyBABY TEMPA App.

Every Wednesday during the eight weeks of the L3 Innovation Challenge, our CATS Team were taken by Mr. O’Donnell to LabCentral in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Here, students from dozens of high schools in the Boston area were divided into groups with the goal of turning innovative ideas into real products that would solve demanding medical problems. We had the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from students of different schools, to meet with our mentors (VIP industry experts in various fields from medical entrepreneurships involved with cancer treatment to Biometrics), and to widen our perspective and respect for backend scientists, who quietly devote their resources and knowledge for a better world. At LabCentral, where the contest was hosted, we saw marvelous laboratories and R&D centers in a 70,000 square-foot historic, MIT-owned facility. I could not help but think that never before had Isaac Newton’s famous saying been so clear and convincing: “What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.”

The experiences we gained from this competition went beyond the scientific knowledge accumulated from top-notch experts. It broadened and changed our perspectives and attitudes towards STEM as a field of endeavor. I found it realistic, practical and very demanding. Awards, compliments and recognition, albeit valuable and deserving, are just the tip of the iceberg that made this eight-week rigorous journey worthwhile.

Anti-Racism Day

By Jessica Ngo

CATS students speaking out against racism during the Anti-Racism Day Forum

On Friday, November 3rd, Ms. Carroll and the LGBTQ Alliance Club held an Anti-Racism Open Forum in the Student Lounge. Earlier in the week, teachers and students shared their experiences with racism in a brief video in the CATS Morning Announcements. The open forum on Friday continued this discussion, giving the CATS community a safe place to open up about their personal experiences with racism and to learn more about other people’s point of view on this sensitive topic.

Racism is discrimination based on differences in ethnicity and skin color. Anti-racism is the movement against racism that advocates for racial tolerance. The purpose of Anti-Racism Day is to help spread the idea that everyone is the same despite differences in race. Having an event at CATS where students and faculty from around the world can speak up about racism is especially important.

Personally, I think that the forum was an amazing opportunity for students to have their voices heard on racism. Every one of us may experience the effects of discrimination during our lifetime based on our own racial differences or those of our friends and family. I was impressed by how many people spoke up at the forum and shared stories of racism and how it has affected them and the people around them.  

A big thank you to all who participated in the event. Special thanks go out to Ms. Carroll, Ms. Doyle, Anastasia Dvoryanchikova, Norah Laoui, and Martina Ibrahim who worked hard to make Anti-Racism Day possible. They worked together and came up with many ideas and questions that helped get the conversation on racism started at CATS.

Many thanks to Anastasia Dvoryanchikova for letting me interview her and for sharing great behind-the-scenes stories for this article.

Scholars Trip to RPI University

By Alex Shevtsova

“Where are you from?” a girl with straight blond hair asks us, taking a sip of coffee in the RPI dining hall with her friend.

“Erm…. We are from CATS Boston…,” I answer hesitatingly.

“Which college is that?” she asks, exchanging perplexed looks with her friend.

“It’s a high school.” We burst into laughter.

“Ah, right,” she smiles. Her friend smiles too.  “Planning to apply?”

A short conversation with these RPI students enriched us with information about the 6th best engineering college in the U.S. The students we met were taking chemical and biological engineering classes, and they were happy to know that some of us wanted to as well. “It is probably the best school for research possibilities,” they said. “ And for all types of inspiration.”


We looked around. Located in Troy, New York, RPI University is gracefully enclosed in the nearby hills and overlooks the Hudson River–a spectacular view for nature lovers.

This picturesque place looked empty the chilly early morning we arrived, but it took just a moment to come alive. When we went inside, we saw a Video Game Competition, full of glowing screens and moving joysticks. RPI students create an atmosphere within the university walls and we, as potential new students, were encouraged to contribute to it.

We passed through the hall and exited on the other side of the building. The ‘86 Field divided the campus in two – the research centers and recreation. Opinions were divided on which side to choose. The neutral direction went right in front of the Computer Center, to the west from the Field; the library was quiet and almost empty. I joined my friends with an atlas, exploring the terrain and looking at others who were playing chess on an antiquated coffee table.

For quite a while, we lingered smelling the old books, watching the wind burying massive buildings in leaves outside, and wondering how many things can come together in one amazing place. Artistic inspiration, a calm, educational atmosphere, a cozy family spirit, and incredible sport facilities. This is what we saw that day.

This is what we saw at RPI:  

Indoor Snowball Fight for Charity!

By Mia Huynh and Jenn Lee

Community Service Club is coming at you with another event for students as well as faculty to help our community – an Indoor Snowball Fight on the last day of classes! This event comes with a surprising twist though.  Instead of snowballs, we will be throwing new socks!

We know that everyone loves a good snowball fight outside in the cold winter, so why not participate in one that’s indoors to blow off some steam before finals week? Most importantly, your participation will help the Braintree community, as all of the socks purchased during the event will be donated to Father Bill’s and Mainspring Homeless Shelters afterwards. Many homeless people only have one pair of socks to keep them warm during the cold winter. Participating in our Indoor Snowball Fight is one way to get a lot of socks to those who need them while having a lot of fun!

The club raised money to cover the cost of the event through the sale of tickets and socks during lunch time in front of the cafeteria from November 28th to December 4th.  The price was $5 for 7 sock balls and $10 for 15.

The Indoor Snowball Fight will be held at 11 AM on December 7th in the gym. You can watch the event for $1. Snacks will be offered for sale at the event, so bring your cash!

Hopefully your house will have stocked up many snowballs for the fight! Houses will create cardboard forts for the event this week and fight together as a team.  The more participants on your team, the greater your chances of dominating the snowball fight! Points will be awarded to the house with the best fort.

This will be the first time ever for this event, and we can’t wait!

We’ll see you there!

CATS’ Fall Play “She Kills Monsters” 

By Norah Laoui

The 2018 Fall play at CATS Academy started in the middle of September with auditions that lasted for about two days.  Students read the introduction monologue and acted out scenes with other students. In this way, our cast was formed!

We then began our production of “She Kills Monsters” by Qui Nguyen. The play follows an average girl named Agnes who tries to learn more about her little sister, Tilly, through a Dungeons & Dragons game that her sister created. The story jumps in and out of the imaginary world that her sister has created. Filled with awesome sword fights and all things geeky, the story is exciting, but, more importantly, it explores the relationships (good and bad) between each of the characters. The play is an amazing story that can make you laugh and cry or perhaps even empathize with the characters to understand deeper messages that theater can sometimes teach an audience. 

With the show fast approaching, our cast worked hard, along with the play’s director and stage crew, to bring this story’s powerful message to life. The cast met after school every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 4:00 to 5:45 and, at times, even on the weekends from September through the end of November.

       Photo credit to Noah Ellegood

There’s a saying: “A cast can become like a small family within a community.” Our cast proved this saying true. At the beginning of rehearsal most days, we played a fun team-building exercise like the game Ninja to get to know each other better and to shake off any stresses from the day. No matter how good or bad our day was, play rehearsal always made us smile, laugh, and just have fun together. We can’t thank Mr. Punches our amazing director enough for all he’s dedication and hard work to help us prepare to present this production of “She Kills Monsters” and all his hard work on building the set. We also want to thank Mr. Napier, Mr. Archer, Mr. Phelan and Mr. Lewan and everyone else who helped us for their amazing work on the props and set designs and music which gave the show a professional aura.

From the cast and crew, we hope you enjoyed the play as much as we enjoyed performing it for you!

“Black Wings” Fashion Show

By: Nuray Salina

On Thursday, April 26th, CATS Academy Boston held its spring fashion show and the theme  was “Black Wings.” The event took place in our gym which was fitted with a runway. It was led by Ms. Jacobson and attended by students, teachers, and international guests who came to see the masterpieces of our young designers. All of the costumes and clothes were created by CATS students, who put enormous effort into their designs.  Hundreds of hours and a wave of emotions and worries preceded the students inevitable success.

The staging and lighting was tremendous and really showed the fashions to their best!  A single bright spotlight effectively illuminated the podium and student models. Black and red shades created an atmosphere of mystery and romance. All this generated an environment in which students could not wait for the show to start.

It began with Ms. Jacobson’s introduction of the “Black Wings” theme. She then began inviting the models to the stage individually to walk the runway.  First, clothes made by the students of the Introduction to Fashion Design class were shown and this was followed by the creations of the Advanced Fashion class.  In total, there were nearly 30 designs displayed with many of them being dresses and tunics. The array of dresses were unique, graceful and shiny, elegant and dark, colorful and catchy.  They all looked fabulous! The models looked terrific showing them as well! Their hairstyles, makeup, gait, and self-expression absolutely fit the “Dark Wings” theme of the event. It was an amazing show to see!

In my opinion, the atmosphere, design and presentation of the show looked professional! It is hard to express my visual impressions of the show in words.  However, the fashion show was definite proof of the impressive creativity of CATS Academy students who are clearly headed for future success!

Students Enjoy CATS Academy Boston 2018 Prom

By: Sasha Chernysheva

After all of our seniors  received their long-awaited acceptance letters from colleges,  prom was one of the last milestones on the way to graduation. CATS Academy prom night took place at “The Lantana” on May 11th. It was a night dedicated to seniors, for whom it was the last official high school party.  It was also attended by juniors and many underclassmen and everyone appeared to be having a great time!


Capturea sfda.PNGWhat are some of the major components of a good prom night?

First, you obviously need a lot of music and dancing, and we had enough of both.   Second, there is the traditional voting for the prom king and queen and this year we crowned Steven Guan and Anna Merzliakova.

Third, you must have a blinding variety of beautiful sparkling gowns and finely cut suits, which is something that our students never lack.  And fourth, a lot of pictures are required, with your partner and friends and their friends and everyone…. in order for all to remember the night forever.  There were many places to take these snaps because the venue was a beautiful setting exquisitely decorated with lights and flowers.

In general, it was a wonderful night to remember and celebrate our seniors, whom we wish all the best in college and on their journey through life.  For the juniors looking forward to returning to CATS, we wish you a great senior year!

The Little Mermaid Musical Shines

By: Helena Fauvel

On May 18th and 19th, after months of rehearsal, CATS Academy students along with the Arts Department presented its marvelous production of the Disney musical, The Little Mermaid.  Mr. Punches, the school’s Theater Director, and the Art Department helped the students create on stage the the magical underwater world in which the play play takes place. The students dedicated their time to rehearsals four times a week during the semester in order to perfect their performances. They all enjoyed the fabulous experience of being part of this theatrical production.

Producing the fantasy world on stage required the incredible dedication of many teachers and students. The lighting by Mr. Punches and Anna Carolina Alves helped create the underwater effect. Music teachers, Mrs. Segal and Mr. Lewan, played in the band along with their students and gave great live musical performances both nights of the show!  All the amazing costumes for the musical were created by Ms. Jacobson and her Fashion Design course students.The costumes gave life to characters such as Ursula the octopus, the little mermaid, the hilarious sea gulls, Sebastian and the entire cast.

The creation of the set relied on the work and ingenuity of many including the arts teachers the students of the Theatre Production class and other crew members.  There were also CATS Innovation course students who helped create the scenes and props used on set. An especially notable prop was the amazing shell which was created with our school’s 3D printer. The stage construction was completed by students from the Theatre Production Class along with several others involved in the production who devoted many hours after school to ensure the musical set would be perfect, and it was!

Capture 230

Last, but most definitely not least, the entire student cast and production crew did a really professional job staging The Little Mermaid.  It was clear they had dedicated heart and soul to the show.  Ariel was played by the talented Nina Sunago, who put on outstanding performances. She and Ms. Segal had spent many hours together perfecting her part.  Prince Eric, played by the Thiago Venturi, sang in spectacular fashion bringing his character to life. Daniel O’Hare, played Sebastian and turned in a most convincing crab performance.  Minh Binh Nguyen portrayed the villain, Ursula in a very memorable performance. Anastasia Dvoryanchikova and Alice Nguyen, as the eels,created their characters well by  sliding and slithering about the stage. Other notable performances were given by Lucas Eduardo, as Grimsby,  Pearl Carroll, who was a wonderful Flounder, and Kate Manley Rowe, as Scuttle the seagull, who got some of the biggest laughs of the show.  Daniel Rodriguez was well cast in his roles as the Pilot and Chef and the chorus including the Mersisters and sailors were also superb!

Overall, the production was a huge success with the talent of CATS Academy Boston shining at every turn. Congratulations to everyone who helped bring this magical world to life on our stage!  Mr. Punches and Mrs. Segal deserve special thanks because they really made the students feel part of something special. And, it was very special!

Is It Worth Running for Student Government?

By: Anastasia Dvoryanchikova

Running for a Student Government office can be a great learning experience.  Although politics, in today’s climate, has been taken to an extreme, a school election is far different. Many might consider running for office an undesirable experience, but they would be wrong.  Campaigning can be associated with stress from competition, doubts and an unbreakable desire to win no matter what. However, it does not have to be this way, the situation is complex and there is much to be learned by campaigning for a student office whether or not you win the election.

Competition is an inevitable part of running for any elected position, because at the end there can be only one winner. But between the day when candidates are announced until the day when people vote, there is campaigning to be done: making posters, slogans, and organizing different activities to draw voter’s attention. There is also a process of getting to know people who you haven’t known before. Since every candidate must expose his or herself to become known in order to be elected, they must  become more active in events around the school. In this way, it is easy to get acquainted with more people. Elections are also about thinking in creative ways because candidates want to stand out and be more recognizable. Candidates must use their skills to figure out how to target their audience. They must determine what can fit into their budget and still be efficient reaching potential voters for the campaign. You also need to learn to use your individuality to shape your campaign by figuring out what makes you who you are and incorporating that into your message.  

Finally, the campaign process is a test of you as a leader.  You need to show you care about the school, its students and making positive change.  Improvement will not happen on its own, being an officer is about representation of the student body and making improvement. So, running for  a student government office is not what people would normally think. Sure it is fun, creative and social but it is also an indescribable and unforgettable process of personal growth and social development.  At the end, what really matters is the process, not winning the election.

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