Children were thrilled and their parents were high-spirited as they brainstormed on projects and solving puzzles at the Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE) and the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), Division of Libraries, Archives and Museum’s second annual back-to-school Night at the Library held Saturday, August 26 at the Florence Williams Public Library on St. Croix. The Night was hosted by Denise Gomes from VIDE’s Office of the Commissioner. Superintendent of Schools Colleen Mae Williams, along with Deputy Superintendent Faith George-Boone opened the program and actively participated in the educational activities along with parents and students.
The family-oriented celebration of literacy supports the 9th Annual Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge (GSRC), which challenges students in grades K-6 to read five or more books over the summer.
With a literacy backdrop in the midst of the public library, the event proved to be a real nice prelude to the opening of the 2017-18 School Year, especially for the children who enjoyed an evening of fun and learning. Parent-participant Marie Chiverton, who came out with her daughter, said the event was impressive. “It allowed for parent and child interaction in a different setting. My daughter enjoyed it and it made me happy,” she said. “I was especially thrilled when Ms. Gomes had her (my daughter) call out the winning numbers for the very last raffle.”
The Chiverton’s experience exemplified the general mood of the literacy gathering that brought out mothers, fathers and even grandparents. Valrica Bryson, VIDE’s Director of Cultural Education kicked off the event with a humorous Bro’ Nancy tale. She held both children and adults in awe as she lashed out hilariously in her heart throbbing story. School District Elementary Programs Coordinator Jeselle Cruse-Peters kept up the pace with the parents, engaging them in games that relaxed the atmosphere and brought everyone together as the youngsters left to participate in fun-filled, educational activities in adjacent rooms of the library.
Gomes, with her pre-K to 6th grade students comfortably seated on rugs, touted about the importance of good behavior and striving for excellence as she placed the students in the roles of superheroes. VIDE’s State Teacher of the Year Dinah Browne inspired intermediate students, stimulating their critical thinking abilities.
Other presenters and volunteers included VIDE’s Assistant Commissioner Chermaine Hobson; Glenda McKenzie; Alexandria Baltimore-Hookfin; Nichole Miller; Deborah Petersen; Lynel Lynch, Yvette McMahon-Arnold, and the staff of DPNR’s Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums.
VIYA donated reusable bags and other gifts, while Home Depot supplied materials and tools as part of a Kid’s Workshop Kit that parent-child teams used to construct trophies.