Education News: Jan/Feb 2020

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Commissioner Berry-Benjamin's
January-February 2020 Report

Greetings and welcome to another update from the V.I.  Department of Education for the months of January and February 2020. Inside this issue of Education News, we are pleased to report that we have hit a significant milestone in our quest to build new public schools in the Territory. Additionally, we are equally proud of the gains we have made with student achievement in English Language Arts and Mathematics territorywide; however, there is still much work to be done to ensure our students are reaching their highest potentials. I know you will enjoy learning more about the water safety course at Addelita Cancryn Intermediate and Junior High School, the return of modern dance to St. Croix Eduational Complex High School, and how our schools celebrated Black History and Career & Technical Education month in February.  Plus, get your fill of the upcoming activities for Music In Our Schools Month, celebrated annually in March, where the importance of music education will take center stage.

Enjoy all this and more!

Racquel Berry-Benjamin



New Schools Industry Standards Get Green Light

The Office of Disaster Recovery and the Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE) announced on February 24 that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had approved industry standards that will ensure newly constructed schools and VIDE office buildings can withstand future catastrophic weather events and meet professional norms for providing service. 

“This approval will green light pending projects and signals continued progress and our partnership with local and federal stakeholders,” said Director Adrienne L. Williams-Octalien, Office of Disaster Recovery, at a press briefing at Government House on St. Croix.




Victor Somme III Named Assistant Commissioner




Sarah & Addie: Through The Eyes of A Child

Students in Ms. Dahlia Knowles's 6th grade English Language Arts (ELA) classes at Alfredo Andrews Elementary School are the winners of the Sarah & Addie Scriptwriting Competition, hosted by the Department of Education’s Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education (DVICE). Now, these budding playwrights get to have their script produced for local TV.

According to Dr. Valrica Bryson, DVICE director, the idea was to have students write a script embodying the spirit of Sarah and Addie, two fictional market women in 1930-40s St. Croix, that addresses relevant topics of today.


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Tea Time: Bowsky's Leading Ladies Learn Etiquette at Garden Tea Party

The Emancipation Garden bandstand was filled with the gentle clinking of teacups and the buzz of excitement as students in Bowsky's Leading Ladies Club enjoyed a tea party hosted by members of the Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc., on January 19.

The Leading Ladies Club was established last school year at Yvonne Milliner Bowsky Elementary School, and provides girls in grades 3-5 an avenue to learn about self-esteem, self-awareness, personal accountability, etiquette, life skills, interpersonal relationship skills, and leadership skills.




St. Croix District                                                                                     



St. Thomas- St. John District


Congratulations Super Spellers!

Congratulations to the top 6 spellers from the St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John Districts, respectively! These 12 Super Spellers will compete for the Championship Title at the Territorial Intermediate Spelling Bee on March 11th at 10 a.m. in the Charlotte Amalie High School Ruth E. Thomas Auditorium.
St. Croix Top 6: Michael Atwell, Kalyn Blackwood, 6th grade, Ricardo Richards; Briana Cruz, 7th grade, John H. Woodson Jr. High; Jahnyah Greenidge, 6th grade, Juanita Gardine K-8 School; Caiden Rivera, 6th grade, St. Patrick’s Catholic School; and Carl Consulta, 5th grade, Alfredo Andrews Elementary School.
St. Thomas-St. John Top 6: Priya Giyanani; Diana Esprit, Sts. Peter & Paul School; Radz Daytic, Yvonne Milliner-Bowsky Elementary School; V’Marie Rochester, Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School; Daniel Nganga, St. Thomas Christian Academy; and Agnes Bellot, Wesleyan Academy.


                           St. Croix District Winning Team (Church of God)                                         


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St. Croix District Top 10 Mathletes


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St. Thomas-St. John District Winning Team (Antilles)


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St. Thomas-St. John District Top 10 Mathletes


Congratulations Mathletes!

Congratulations to the Top 10 Mathletes from the St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John Districts, respectively! These 20 Mathletes will compete for the Championship Title at the State MATHCOUNTS Competition on March 30 at 9 a.m. in the UVI ACC Building on St. Thomas.



#VIDE Celebrates Black History Month

Each February, public schools across the Territory put on a variety of educational programs to pay homage to the African roots of the Virgin Islands and to recognize the countless contributions African Americans have made to the United States and the world. This year was no different.

Click below for exciting photo highlights of Black History Month from around the VIDE!


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T-Shirts Praise Black Heroes and Heroines

Employees in the Curriculum and Instruction Division in the St. Thomas-St. John District ignited a spark with the sales of a t-shirt that celebrated the contributions of Virgin Islands' heroes and heroines. Both public and private school students, as well as Department of Education employees in the St. Thomas-St. John District, donned the inspirational t-shirts on February 28 to close out Black History Month.


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Water Safety Makes a Splash At Cancryn School

On February 8, Magens Bay came alive with the coordinated splashes of students practicing swimming and kayaking in its cool, crystal-blue waters. A lack of confidence around water can be a source of anxiety for island residents, that's why the Water Safety Program at Cancryn Intermediate & Jr. High School is working to equip students with the skills they need to be safe in and around large bodies of water.

According to Principal Dr. Lisa Hassel-Forde, the Water Safety Program, which is funded by the 21st Century grant, began in 2008. While she was the principal at Gladys Abraham Elementary School at the time, Dr. Hassel-Forde recognized an imminent need for her students to learn how to swim.




Jahmani Morales Wins Achieve3000 Contest

Jahmani Jay Morales, a sixth grader at Eulalie R. Rivera K-8 School, is the  territory’s winner of Achieve3000’s Make the Break Contest, held Dec. 21 to Jan. 5, which encouraged students to continue using Achieve3000’s literacy platform over the recent holiday break in order to maintain the growth they achieved during the first semester.

For his outstanding performance of earning a score of 75 percent or higher, Morales was awarded Sony Extra Bass headphones, which were presented to him by district officials and Julie Eckard, Achieve3000’s territory representative, on January 29 at the school.



Juanita Gardine Students and Staff 'Read Aloud' In Global Literacy Awareness Movement

Juanita Gardine K-8 School students and staff participated in a unique global movement on February 5—World Read Aloud Day—where students, teachers, staff and administrators read stories aloud as a means of promoting literacy.

Librarian Janice Ferdinand, who organized the event at the Richmond school, states, “All readers entered their assigned classes with the same goal in mind—to intrigue their listeners, evoke emotions, and make connections between the spoken and written word.”




Eta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Donates Supplies to Ulla F. Muller Sewing Club

Members of Eta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. donated six sewing machines and sewing supplies totaling $500 to the Ulla F. Muller Elementary School on January 29 in an effort to support the school’s newly formed sewing club. 

According to Principal Carolyn Archer, a variety of clubs were created at the school in order to engage students in non-traditional trades and skills. The new clubs include sewing, board games (logic-based), line dancing, music, art, and graphic design.



Read all about this month's inspiring students

Get to know the next generation of V.I. leaders--they are the officers and members of the Student Government Associations at the VIDE's four senior high schools. These young people represent the future of the Virgin Islands and everything good that comes from its shores.

St. Croix District

Student Government Associations

                                          St. Croix Ed. Complex High School        St. Croix Central High School


St. Thomas - St. John District

Student Government Associations

Ivanna Eudora Kean High School     Charlotte Amalie High School






School Report Card: Scores Are Up,

But More Work to be Done

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Building Schools of the Future: V.I. Schools Update

The New Schools Construction Advisory Board, tasked with guiding the work of the rebuilding of public schools in the Territory, recently engaged the public for its input and is now honing in on specific elements that would redefine the future of Virgin Islands' public education.

Department of Education Architect Chaneel Callwood identified the top issues that were brought to light from the public meetings held last October: environmental sustainability, flexible scheduling, school funding/district finances, and school safety. 




#VIDE Celebrates Career & Technical Education Month

During February’s national celebration of Career & Technical Education, the VIDE’s State Office of Career and Technical Education, along with various schools, showcased the work students and teachers are doing to support interest in this important field.

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Modern Dance Returns to Complex High School

Following a seven-year hiatus, the St. Croix Educational Complex High School is again offering Modern Dance to students interested in learning the performance art form.

Thanks to the efforts of physical education teacher, Essi Gaston-Edwards, who also instructs the new Modern Dance I and II classes at Complex, 19 students in grades 9-12 were introduced to the basic techniques of Contemporary, African and Hip-Hop dance in her Modern Dance I course during the first and second quarters of the school year.




HR Wellness Connection Newsletter

Check out the latest issue of HR’s Wellness Connection newsletter for all your health and nutrition needs! 




Districtwide School Staff Meetings Inspire

In an effort to better serve its school-based employees, Superintendents Stefan Jurgen and Carlos McGregor conducted a one-day, districtwide meeting with all school staff in January to show appreciation for their work, as well as to inform employees of important developments within the Department and district, and to seek employees’ feedback on a range of important topics. 




State Teacher of the Year Activities Announced

The Virgin Islands Department of Education will hold its State Teacher of the Year selection ceremony on April 1. As the two district teachers prepare for the occasion, they are both embarking on a series of activities to promote an area of public education that is important to them.





In Her Own Words: Music In Our Schools Month

March is Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM), a national celebration of the importance of music education for all children. VIDE’s Director of the Division of Music Education and Programs Dionne Donadelle, sat down with Education News to share more about the month and what it means for music programs in Virgin Islands public schools. 





AgFair Highlights: "Trendy In 2020"





St. Croix Festival Children's Parade 2020





St. Thomas - St. John Governor's Summer Reading Challenge Fun Day




V.I.'s Milt Newton Donates Basketballs To V.I. Public Schools

Special thanks to Milton and Shalaun Newton and their Emrald Gems Foundation for donating basketballs to the Territory's public schools! Your generous donation has made all the difference.


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Corona Virus Preventative Care Tips


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March 1-30

Virgin Islands History Month

Music In Our Schools Month

Women's History Month


March 11  

Teritorial Spelling Bee @ 10 a.m. - CAHS Auditorium

March 13 

Cultural Communication Showcase @ Frederick D. Dorsch Center

March 16

2020 Smarter Balanced Assessments begin

April 12-17

Week of the Young Child

June 4

Last Day of School
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