Siena Chai’s Pandemic Friendly Art School

16 year old Siena Chai provides insight into her non-profit organization, Creative Collective.

Siena Chais Pandemic Friendly Art School

Orelia Oiknine, Contributor

Siena Chai, a junior at Bishop O’Dowd, recently built her own digital art school called Creative Collective. A dancer herself, she has always been fascinated by the release art can provide. During the boredom of quarantine, Siena yearned for an opportunity to express herself artistically once again, but also to prevent others from feeling as deprived as she was. Siena expresses, “I volunteered at this organization that provided music classes during quarantine. After I experienced this, I wanted to expand this idea and start an organization that includes all creative art classes. I especially wanted to do this because not everyone had access to extracurriculars during quarantine, so I thought this would be exactly what children needed.”

Siena began to recruit friends of hers to be teachers and by winter break of her sophomore year, she had a website and multiple commitments from friends to participate. Saleena Kalra ‘23 was the Chief Media and Scheduling Officer for Creative Collective and Radha Feist ‘23 was both a teacher and a Chief Operating Officer. There were also various Creative Collective teachers (Catie Long ‘23, Emily Lao ‘23, Leya Duarte ‘23, Irene Harris ‘23, Orelia Oiknine ‘23, and Maera McCarthy ‘23). Irene shares, “I led an art class for ages 7-9 years old and was very rewarded by the experience of teaching kids to do something I love.” The classes available included cooking, dancing, drawing, acting, painting, and embroidery. Aside from providing extracurriculars to children everywhere, she provided community service opportunities for her fellow students. Many class of 2023 students applied their time as a Creative Collective teacher to the Friends Project.

Siena explains that she spread the news of her organization by emailing public schools and on an app called Nextdoor. Soon enough, children started to sign up. By January of her sophomore year, Siena had finalized schedules and class times and began facilitating them. However, it was not an easy process. Siena claims, “Getting all the teachers together at once for meetings was a struggle. Also, organizing all the teaching schedules on the website became super complicated. So basically the technical aspect of the website was pretty straightforward, but rounding everyone up and staying organized was a challenge.”

Nonetheless, Siena and her team overcame these challenges and provided about seven months of classes to the public. Classes came to a close when quarantine was lifted, but Siena explains that she will hold this experience and what she learned with her forever: “It was really fulfilling to hear about the positive effects on the teachers and students. Also, when I saw students practicing on their own and become dedicated to their classes, I felt super proud.” When asked what to tell students who also want to start their own organization, Siena advises to set specific goals, stay optimistic, and only surround yourself with supportive, productive people.

To check out Siena Chai’s website, visit: