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Hugs and Tears at Lafayette's Last String Orchestra Concert

 The Lafayette Elementary School string orchestra performed its last concert for students and parents Friday. The school is closing at the end of the school year.
Lafayette's Last Concert
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HUMBOLDT PARK — It was an emotional 90 minutes, but that was to be expected.

The much-loved Lafayette Elementary School string orchestra performed its final concert for other students and parents Friday afternoon, capping off a long, passionate battle to save the school.

"It's shocking," said parent Rosemary Vega, choking up as she spoke. "I have no more words. We fought and fought and fought to keep this going, something so good for these kids, and it was snatched from under them."

It all seemed to be sinking in for the fiery mother who helped head up numerous protests against the school closings, including one just last week.

Vega said it was important that her 11-year-old daughter keep playing cello, so if the string orchestra program is not rebuilt at Chopin Elementary School, one of two "welcoming schools" accepting students from Lafayette, she will enroll her daughter at Pritzker College Prep, a Noble Network charter school in West Humboldt Park.

Lafayette's Last Concert
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DNAinfo/Victoria Johnson

"This music that they're playing, it's not easy, so to take on that challenge is amazing," she said.

When it was all over music teacher and orchestra director Art Weible sighed heavily and seemed at a loss of words. Surprising, as he has often spoken eloquently of the importance of the music program for the students, nearly a third of which have special needs.

"I'm very, very proud of the kids. I'm very proud of the teachers that worked so hard for the kids," he said. "I know we did everything we could to keep this school open."

It all seemed to be sinking in for Weible as well, who said he will now do whatever he can to rebuild the string orchestra at Chopin.

"The next step is to make Chopin as good as Lafayette was," he said, adding, "and that's the first time I've referred to Lafayette in the past tense."