In the wee morning hours of Thursday, April 6, Ripon High School students will be preparing for one of the biggest learning experiences of their young lives.

They aren’t going to be cramming for an exam this particular 2 a.m.; they’ll be loading up buses with brass instruments, suitcases with outlet converters and maybe a few Chinese phrase books.

Along with five high school faculty members and 24 other parents/chaperones, these 71 students are heading to Shanghai, China.

For some of the youth, such as Piper James, the trip will mark their first experience out of the country.

Her family started preparing her for the trip at Christmas, when she received presents of luggage and travel-sized necessities.

Classes also have helped give her some context to the culture on the other side of the world.

“My AP World History class kind of took care of that,” she said.

“[Our teacher] told us apparently they love golf balls and pens [in China],” student Jazmine Drake said, so the visitors are bringing gifts of pencils, along with framed photos of Ripon’s band and choir.

“Chinese culture is big on gifting,” band director Sandy Polcyn added.

Read more about preparations and other students' thoughts in the March 30, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.