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Arts school creates exchange

By AMY HE in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-06-21 13:00

A Connecticut magnet school for the arts has signed an agreement with Chinese education officials to begin an exchange program, a first for an American public school.

The ACES Education Center for the Arts signed the agreement with the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange, an international branch of the Chinese Ministry of Education, on June 14.

The partnership will promote a visiting scholars program and a mutual student exchange program between the Education Center for the Arts and a high school affiliated with the Shanghai Theater Academy, a school with a sister relationship with the Connecticut school.

"It's about giving our students an opportunity to learn more about the world around them and in doing so, they learn more about themselves. It opens doors that they normally wouldn't have open to them," Thomas Danehy, executive director of ACES Education Center for the Arts, told China Daily.

"It's about helping our students understand cultural competencies and to be able to embrace different ideas about economics and societal and political nuances between and among different countries," he said.

Four students from the Chinese high school will come to the ACES Educational Center for the Arts in September and stay through June 2018. While American students who attend the school do not pay tuition, the students from China will pay $42,000 to cover core classes, room and board. They will be staying with host families.

The ACES Education Center for Arts, based in New Haven, is a magnet arts program that offers intensive arts instruction to students from 27 school districts in Connecticut. Students attend their local high schools in the morning and then receive a magnet arts education in the afternoon.

The school serves students grades 9 through 12, and receives half its funding from the state of Connecticut and half from local districts. It had a total budget of $3 million, according to the school's 2015-2016 annual report.

ACES is also looking to develop a branch in Beijing, though there is currently no timeline for when it will be completed, according to Jason Hiruo, principal at ACES.

"We have a belief at ACES that we need to prepare our students for their world — their world is definitely the interconnected, global network, and we need students to understand how to be aware of people, understand and appreciate and have that compassion, and I think this program is building that," Hiruo said.

This November, a group of ACES students will be going to China for a learning tour, where they will be working with schools in Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an and Suzhou to help Chinese students with their English skills as well as help build a playground.

More than 100 students and educators from ACES have made trips to China in the recent years.


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