Seventy students and 10 faculty members from Phillips Academy, Andover, are strengthening their school’s more than century-old ties to China this month with a visit to Asia centered on arts and culture.

The travelers’ education immersion has included performances at Shanghai Datong High School and Shanghai Symphony Hall.

Their appearance last Friday, March 13, at Symphony Hall, home to the China Shanghai International Arts Festival, featured Andover students and faculty alongside performers from Shanghai’s “Dancing into the Future: I Can Too” project as well as the Datong Chinese Orchestra and Shanghai Youth Choir.

Head of School John Palfrey, who is also in China for a number of alumni and parent events, made a cameo appearance with the Andover choir at Shanghai Symphony Hall.

“With the power to inspire communities, build mutual understanding and transform lives, music is deeply embedded in the culture of Phillips Academy,” Palfrey said in a release. “I am immensely proud of our students’ talents in all forms of artistry and flattered to have joined them on stage.”

Palfrey said the tour is hoped to serve as a catalyst for the school’s increasing involvement in China.

“China is an important strategic area of focus for our school,” he said, noting that Andover has strong alumni and parent support networks in the region. Some individuals serve as alumni-admission representatives, event hosts or members of committees leading philanthropic initiatives.

Andover’s first connection with China began in 1878 and 1879 when 11 Chinese boys enrolled at the academy. One of those boys, Sir Chentung Liang Cheng, class of 1882, later served as Chinese minister to Berlin and Washington, D.C.

Phillips renewed its interaction with China in the 1960s when it began offering Chinese language courses. The relationship grew stronger in the 1970s with plans for a student exchange program, which became official in 1980 with an agreement between Andover and the Harbin Institute of Technology.

A more recent endeavor, established in 2011, is a partnership among Andover and three Chinese schools: The High School Affiliated to Renmin University, Shanghai Datong High School, and the Affiliated High School of Peking University, Yunnan Experimental School. Students and faculty from Phillips and the three Chinese schools gather each summer in Kunming for a program that focuses on water resources, cultural exchange and language immersion.

Leaders from each of the schools met in Shanghai last week for a summit during which they reconfirmed their commitment to the international program and discussed new ways to enhance their partnership and extend educational opportunities beyond the summer months.

About 10 percent of Andover’s 1,100 students are international. Of those, several dozen students come from China, with 12 new students from the country enrolling each year.

A need-blind school for both domestic and international candidates, Phillips admits students based on merit and talent, without regard to their family’s economic circumstances. The academy is said to have one of the most comprehensive financial aid programs in the U.S. and meets 100 percent of a student’s demonstrated need.

Shanghai bound

Several Andover students traveled to China this month on an arts and cultural immersion program. They are:

Viviane Garth, Vivian Liu, Bryan McGuiggin and Lucius Xuan, class of 2015; Angela Dolan, Claire Glover, Samantha Hagler and Erica Nork, class of 2016; Evelyn Mesler, John Moreland and Brett Sawka, class of 2017; and Mae Zhao and Aditi Kannan, class of 2018.

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