Word up! Teen rapper kicks off tour by entering Calvert School program

September 03, 1992|By Jean Marbella | Jean Marbella,Staff Writer

The eighth-grade rappers who make up the wildly popular group Kris Kross will be taking a bit of Baltimore with them on their 29-city concert tour.

Chris Kelly, half of the duo that has young fans wearing their pants baggy and backward, has enrolled in the Calvert School's home-instruction program. In town for the tour's debut last night, the 14-year-old also visited the North Baltimore school yesterday afternoon.

"It's all right. It's cool," Chris said in that taciturn adolescent style when asked about his new school. In its 86 years of offering a correspondence program, Calvert School has taught child stars, young athletes, circus children, sons and daughters of political figures and other homebound or travel-bound youngsters.

Chris, however, is the school's first rap star.

He left town with more than the curriculum: Yesterday, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke made Chris and his partner, Chris Smith, 13, honorary citizens.

"All it means is we love you, and you don't have to pay taxes," Mayor Schmoke said to the two, who have sold more than 3 JTC million copies of their debut album, "Totally

Krossed Out."

Mayor Schmoke also lauded the duo for their pro-education message, and, indeed, in Kris Kross' next single, "I Missed the Bus," they lament missing school. They have said they hope the song convinces kids to stay in school.

Later in the afternoon, Chris Kelly and his mother, Donna, picked up school materials that will allow the youngster to "attend" eighth grade even as he travels across the country for two months of concerts. (Ms. Kelly said Chris Smith may consider enrolling in the school as well.)

Although word of his visit was the buzz among some students at the private school, the Kellys caused no commotion because they arrived after school had let out, said Susan Weiss, principal of the home-instruction program.

Ms. Kelly said she had read about Calvert School's home-instruction program in a magazine and called to find out more about it. "What I liked was, when I first called, they were very interested and sent more information to me."

Both boys had attended public

middle schools back home in the Atlanta area, but now are traveling with a private tutor.

"If you let it, [their education] could be pushed to the background by all this," Ms. Kelly said. "So it's important that they have a good tutor."

Their tutor, John Lee, said he tries to get about three or four hours of studying into the boys' busy daily schedules. "They're good students, very attentive. Despite the hours they keep, they do their work."

/# The Calvert School home-instruc

tion program, created in 1906, has taught "tennis players, skiers, ice skaters, gymnasts, some young singing groups, the child actors touring in 'Les Miz,' the children of government officials," Ms. Weiss said.

No matter how famous the student, however, he or she is treated like any of the thousands enrolled at any one time in the rigorous program, she said. Chris Kelly will take the usual eighth-grade fare that includes subjects such as American history, earth science, reading and literature and pre-algebra.

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