ST. THOMAS, USVI – Students in the St. Thomas – St. John District participated in the annual Social Studies Fair on Friday, March 15 in Emancipation Garden. With the theme, ‘Change through Time,” students celebrated Virgin Islands History and the people who sacrificed for change and a promise of a brighter future.
The cultural celebration launched with the Virgin Islands March and Black National Anthem performed by the Bertha C. Boschulte (BCB) Middle School Steel Orchestra.
BCB Steel Orchestra moves the crowd with a soulful and harmonic rendition of the Black National Anthem
Following welcoming remarks by the St. Thomas-St. John District Acting Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Symra Dee Brown, the students took the crowd on a journey through time as they presented various stewards of change from 1920-2019.
Jane E. Tuitt Primary School students inspired the crowd with quotes from President Barack Obama, while students from the Leonard Dober Elementary School stirred up a rebellious spirit with a reenactment of the famous Fire Burn of 1878.
Jane E. Tuitt Students inspire the crowd with quotes by President Barack Obama
Event highlights and crowd favorites were the Bamboula Dancers and Drummers of the Ulla F. Muller Elementary School and the St. Thomas Heritage Dancers. Tourists flocked into the park to witness the rich and vast history of the Virgin Islands. A very engaged group of spring-breakers from Howard University in Washington, DC learned a few quadrille moves from the Heritage Dancers, assisted by students from BCB Middle.
“The students have impacted us, and the community has deeply moved us with their welcoming and inclusive spirit,” shared Howard University student Maia Regman.
Bamboula Dancers and Drummers of the Ulla F. Muller Elementary School
St. Thomas Heritage Dancers and BCB students teach Howard University students how to dance Quadrille
Rachel Nelson, an eleventh-grader at the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, executed a creative presentation of Virgin Islands culture and history through performance art.
“One of the influences of cultural fusion is dance. We use several techniques such as full body articulation, sequence, and rhythm to create such beautiful choreography. For example, we have Carnival, where we come together and form troupes which each have unique, colorful costumes. Members dance to a variety of music from traditional quelbe to more contemporary Soca. Quelbe is a historically significant type of music to the Virgin Islands and is usually paired with the dance style, quadrille, which you may have observed earlier from the St. Thomas Heritage Dancers,” explained Rachel.
Eudora Kean Student, Rachel Nelson, eloquently shares the history of dance int he Virgin Islands
According to St. Thomas- St. John District Social Studies Coordinator Annie Smith, the event “commemorates our students’ academic success, as well as our uniqueness as U.S. Virgin Islanders.”
Smith also lauded the students’ work and their ability to grasp and demonstrate lessons learned in history.
“The students have done extremely well. Their performances are a testament to how deeply they understand these various events and people who have stirred changes within our societies. The teachers have done an excellent job with these students as you can see the students are boldly sharing their knowledge with students, Virgin Islanders, and tourists alike!” she said.