HUMBOLDT PARK — The Lafayette School music teacher and director of the school's much-loved string orchestra said he hoped to rebuild the music program at Chopin Elementary, where many Lafayette students would end up.
Arturs Weible has been vocal about how damaging closing Lafayette would be to the string orchestra, the largest in the Chicago Public Schools, but said he's looking to the future now that the Chicago Board of Education officially voted to close Lafayette and 49 other schools.
"It is final. Now I'll devote all my energy to building a program as successful as possible at Chopin," he said. "That's what my intention is, to help set up the program."
A violinist himself, the 42-year-old Weible has spent 15 years teaching music and heading up the string orchestra at Lafayette Elementary, but like other teachers and staff at closing schools, his future is uncertain.
"I've been told that I might not know my job situation until the week school starts," he said.
No matter what happens, Weible said he would finish out this school year trying to keep things as normal as possible for the kids, including going ahead with a field trip to the International History Fair at Hitch Elementary on Thursday.
"I'm really insisting that everything I can control we're going to continue doing it as we've been doing it — because we've been doing a fine job," he said.
Weible has been one of the most passionate voices in the fight against Lafayette's closure, even putting together a concert with current students and alumni to showcase the orchestra's talents.
One of the other music teachers posted the video of the March 13 concert in hopes that it might impact the school closure discussions.
The orchestra also traveled to Springfield last month for a performance that had actually been scheduled before the school was recommended for closure. Weible said he hoped that might have a positive impact as well, though he now admits that he hadn't held up much hope after the final list of schools set to close came out on March 22.
"I felt that Rahm Emanuel would sooner eat glass than concede defeat, and I'm surprised that even those four schools were spared," he said.
Still, he emphasized that his focus now was getting the program moved to Chopin smoothly.
"The most important thing is to get the kids in as good a place as possible so they can be as successful as possible going forward," he said.