01 December 2014

Chinese Leaders to Visit Catholic Schools in West Virginia

WHEELING, W.Va.—Educational leaders from China will visit the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Dec. 1 as part of an unprecedented educational summit between school administrators from China and the diocese.  A press conference will be held at 10:15 a.m. in the new Chancery building at the diocese, which is located at 1311 Byron Street in Wheeling, W.Va.

This stateside visit by the Chinese delegation is the next step in an ongoing relationship between leaders from Catholic schools in West Virginia and the Wenzhou Education Bureau.  Vincent de Paul Schmidt, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, visited Wenzhou Province in China in April to discuss education and immersion opportunities for Chinese exchange students and to find ways to add Mandarin Chinese language courses in Catholic high schools in the diocese.  That visit culminated in a signed agreement that created an educational partnership spanning the globe.

“We will continue to focus on modern languages such as French and Spanish in our high school programs,” Schmidt said, “but we must also be cognizant of the Asian market and prepare our students for unique opportunities in the future.  We also look forward to piloting and then fully implementing a program to attract Chinese exchange students into our Catholic high schools.  This is a historic moment for our system of schools. ” 

The press conference is one of many activities scheduled for the delegation from Wenzhou Province, including their minister of education and several high school principals.  In addition to a welcoming reception at the diocese, the delegation will also visit with students and teachers at Wheeling Central Catholic High School, the Challenger Learning Center at Wheeling Jesuit University and St. Michael Parish School in Wheeling.

The purpose of the summit is five-fold:

1) To strengthen the partnership as well as friendship between Wenzhou and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
2) To visit the diocese and visit local schools.
3) To observe classes and learn more about curricula, teacher staff training, student development and school security.
4) To specifically learn more about the campuses at American high schools, particularly in terms of school safety.
5) To foster student exchange programs between the two cites.

Local dignitaries who are anticipated to attend the summit include Monsignor Frederick P. Annie, V.G., vicar general of the diocese; Rev. James Fleming, S.J., president of Wheeling Jesuit University; Pat Butler, sheriff of Ohio County; Shawn Schwertfeger, chief of Police of the city of Wheeling; Lawrence Bandi, president of Wheeling Central Catholic High School; Lee Gruber, principal of St. Michael Parish School; Diana Vargo, superintendent of Ohio County Schools.

All Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston are accredited through AdvanceED, which provides school accreditation at the national level.  Furthermore, the entire Catholic school system in West Virginia was recently recommended for district level accreditation.

At the high school level, members of the class of 2014 from seven high schools were offered more than $16.5 million in college scholarships and are now enrolled in more than 60 colleges and universities.  From 2011-2014, Catholic high schools in the diocese recognized 24 National Merit semi-finalists and finalists and nine Presidential scholars.  Catholic high school students in West Virginia routinely earn higher average ACT scores than their peers across the state, which is the result of smaller class sizes, a rigorous curriculum and a family atmosphere based on Gospel values.

NOTE:  Media will be able to ask questions to the Chinese delegation, as interpreters will be available.  The press conference will be streamed live at www.wvcatholicschools.org The Summit logo is attached in a JPEG format for your unrestricted use.