RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. — The St. Louis Modern Chinese School in Richmond Heights is a unique learning center that is in need of some help from the community.
The school started in the 1990s with just 40 students, but it is now a thriving center supported by nearly a thousand families across the St. Louis metro area. The school offers low tuition for children to learn language and culture, but it also provides fun things like ping pong and math.
"It's a very important place culturally for the Asian Americans here, especially for kids like me who are born here," said Nicole Li, a Ladue high schooler who also teaches contest math at the center. "It's a place for us to connect with culture and America."
The center is in the midst of a fundraising campaign to raise $40,000 to help with infrastructure improvements and lost tuition during the pandemic.
In a letter online, the school says it was forced to cancel some popular programs as the school faced unprecedented challenges in the last two and a half years. As the school returned to in-person events, it discovered it needed changes to its HVAC system to improve air quality.
The school provides many services for the greater community in St. Louis, as well. The school's students provide instrumental and dance performances for senior living facilities, the Richmond Heights library and the community-at-large. The school is also known to provide Lunar New Year festivities for the St. Louis community with lion dances and food.
During the pandemic, the school also raised nearly $100,000 for COVID-19 relief for the greater St. Louis area and hosted a Stop Asian hate rally. The group also worked with St. Louis County to create a mental health resource page for those seeking help. The number one cause of death in Asian American youth is now suicide--the only age group that faces that challenge, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since the start of the pandemic, the school's enrollment has decreased by a third but operation costs have dramatically risen with inflation. That's why the school's leaders hope they can reach the community to raise funding.
"We've done a lot," said Max Xiao Dong, who volunteers most of his spare time at the school. "The original purpose of the school was teaching the Chinese language and culture, but later on, we found that we have our purpose to service the community and to make it stronger. That's why I think we're here."
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