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Wirt-Emerson tuning up for trip to China

Wirt-EmersVisual Performing Arts Academy orchestrdirector Rovelli Grib leads his students 'Jasmine Flower' for school's Chinese guests Friday. |  Carole

Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy orchestra director Rovelli Grib leads his students in "Jasmine Flower," for the school's Chinese guests on Friday. | Carole Carlson/Post-Tribune

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Updated: November 27, 2013 6:06AM



GARY — Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts junior Rebekah Moore is looking forward to playing the contra bass in China in April in a trip arranged by the Confucius Institute, a Chinese cultural outreach program.

Meanwhile, their orchestra director, Rovelli Grib, hopes the Confucius Institute picks Wirt-Emerson as the home of its first U.S. music class.

The activities are part of a Gary schools global outreach initiative aimed at learning about Chinese language and culture.

Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt just returned from China last week where she toured schools with a delegation of statewide educators headed by state Superintendent Glenda Ritz.

Ritz invited Pruitt because she knew the district already had a partnership in place with the Confucius Institute. Locally, the Chinese cultural outreach program is based at Valparaiso University.

This year, Wirt-Emerson has welcomed Yupeng Lan, who’s teaching Chinese instruments. He said he’s assisting Grib in creating a brand of Chinese-American fusion music. He’ll spend two years here.

Next month, a second Chinese teacher will arrive and teach Mandarin at the Banneker Achievement Academy, Frankie Woods McCullough Academy for Girls and at the Bailly Preparatory Academy.

Pruitt said the Confucius Institute pays most expenses, with Gary picking up part of the teachers’ salaries — about $25,000 each.

“Our vision is to provide students with a global education experience,” said Pruitt.

During her trip to China, Pruitt said she learned the Chinese put education at the forefront of their community lives. “We looked at some of the ways they teach and at the discipline,” she said.

Moore and 24 orchestra students will travel to China with Grib and Principal Adrian Ritchie in early April where they will visit and perform in three cities. The students need to pay their own airfare — about $1,600, Grib said.

Moore, in her fifth year or orchestra, is looking forward to the trip. She’s never been out of the U.S.

“I get to explore the world with something I like to do which is playing my instrument,” she said.



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