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Valencia students perform in Vatican City

Choir group sings for global audience at special mass

Posted: July 8, 2009 6:59 p.m.
Updated: July 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

A group of 86 students from Valencia High School's choir students held concert performances throughout Italy, including the Vatican, while on a recent school trip.

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Alexis Rubell, 17, has come back from Italy a changed person.

“I think that I’ve matured as a person,” she said. “I see what we take for granted here in America.”

The soon-to-be Valencia High School senior was one of 86 choir students who spent 10 days in Italy as part of a summertime choir

“Just being able to experience something with the people I love most was probably one of the most inspirational and life changing moments I’ve ever had,” Rubell said.

Rubell calls performing at the Vatican the “biggest life-changing moment.”

“I got to conduct and having people from Italy watch me conduct and see me happy — it made me feel really special,” Rubell said.

Along with the Vatican, the students performed during Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.

“To look out and see people from all over the world hear Mass that day was really unbelievable,” said Christine Enns, Valencia High School’s choral director.

The trip represents two years of planning and fundraising that generated $3,500 towards plane tickets and hotel rooms.

A total of 135 people, including parents and Valencia’s administrators, traveled to Italy.

After touring Italy and performing songs in English and Italian, about 30 students went on to France for sightseeing.

The trip marked the first international tour for Valencia’s choir.

Enns hopes to take her choir students to Carnegie Hall in New York and even the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

Only a handful of students had traveled to Europe before, Enns said. It was the first time on a plane for three students, she said.

Enns is happy the trip finally came together.

“It was the right year to take them because these students were so ripe for the pieces I wanted to do,” she said.

Steven Schmidt, 16, said the trip was “better than I imagined it to be,” adding he felt well-prepared for the concerts he and his peers gave.

“I think it was just being in the setting and being able to make beautiful music,” he said.

As Rubell looks ahead to her senior year and her future role as choir president, she knows she’ll always feel a connection to her peers and singing.

“When you’re in the choir room, I feel like it’s my second home,” she said.

Ultimately, Enns saw the international trip as a way for students to get a better understanding of the world and each student’s role in it.

“We are all connected no matter where we are in the world,” she said. “That’s the one universal language everyone understands.”



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