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Thursday, July 7, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesBEACON OPEN HOUSE SHOWS DIVERSE TALENTS

BEACON OPEN HOUSE SHOWS DIVERSE TALENTS

Performances by the Marching Iguanas and a Tai Chi exhibition, along with a song sung in sign language were only a few of the highlights at Beacon School's open house at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School Wednesday evening, demonstrating how Beacon's versatility and skill have contributed to the program's outstanding success in the territory.
Valerie George, Beacon's executive director, was almost in tears as a group led by student Jorge Acosta signed/sang "God Made you Special." Acosta, a seventh grader at New Horizons school, grew up using sign language; his mother, Carol Gene Tonge, who was sitting proudly in the audience, is deaf.
One of Acosta's students in his signing class is also his teacher in another area. Stefan Jurgen is Beacon coordinator of JUMP, a juvenile mentoring program supported through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Jurgen gave a broad smile, "Jorge's a good teacher, too," he said.
And that is how the school works, George points out. "It's parents, private individuals and actual teachers donating their time, so you have students, teachers and parents intermixing," she said. George noticed when the program first started in 1996 that parents would be sitting in their cars in the parking lot awaiting the students, so she invited them to come in and participate, and it has worked well.
The Beacon concept was first brought to light in Senator Lorraine Berry's 1996 Youth Symposium, when she invited representatives of New York's highly successful Beacon Schools to participate. The after-school tutoring concept was adopted by local education officials, and a plan was drafted to start the V.I. schools in 1997.
The schools are nonprofit, depending primarily on outside funding. They are taught by a dedicated group of private citizens at the territory's regular schools after school is out. Beacon's goal is to improve the performance of troubled youth, reduce violence and provide a safe learning environment. First the students receive homework assistance for their regular schoolwork, and then on to fun things like art, sports, drafting, drama, and even computer classes
"We have grown unbelievably," said George. In 1997 the schools had about 700 participants. "Last year it was about 4,000, and this year is around 5,000 at our five sites." There are two schools each on St. Thomas and St. Croix, and one on St. John.
The V.I. Beacon Schools received the prestigious 2000 Metropolitan Life Foundation Outstanding After-school Partnership Award last year, after George saw an application and impulsively decided to apply, her first such application.
What could have been a stumbling block in the schools' major fund-raiser, the fall Beacon Celebrity Golf Tournament, has been turned into an asset by George's ingenuity. Mahogany Run Golf Course, the tournament site, is closed temporarily this year after the course's grass was accidentally destroyed.
"Mahogany Run has arranged for us to transfer the actual tournament play to Carambola Gold course on St. Croix, and American Airlines will sponsor the transportation," George said. "These are two of our platinum sponsors."
The main dinner will be on St. Thomas as usual, but the following day usually spent on St. Thomas will be spent on St. John. "So you see, they get to see all three islands!" George, ever the optimist, said.
There will be an open house at each of the remaining four schools. (See the Source calendar section.) For more information, call George at 777-9300.

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Performances by the Marching Iguanas and a Tai Chi exhibition, along with a song sung in sign language were only a few of the highlights at Beacon School's open house at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School Wednesday evening, demonstrating how Beacon's versatility and skill have contributed to the program's outstanding success in the territory.
Valerie George, Beacon's executive director, was almost in tears as a group led by student Jorge Acosta signed/sang "God Made you Special." Acosta, a seventh grader at New Horizons school, grew up using sign language; his mother, Carol Gene Tonge, who was sitting proudly in the audience, is deaf.
One of Acosta's students in his signing class is also his teacher in another area. Stefan Jurgen is Beacon coordinator of JUMP, a juvenile mentoring program supported through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Jurgen gave a broad smile, "Jorge's a good teacher, too," he said.
And that is how the school works, George points out. "It's parents, private individuals and actual teachers donating their time, so you have students, teachers and parents intermixing," she said. George noticed when the program first started in 1996 that parents would be sitting in their cars in the parking lot awaiting the students, so she invited them to come in and participate, and it has worked well.
The Beacon concept was first brought to light in Senator Lorraine Berry's 1996 Youth Symposium, when she invited representatives of New York's highly successful Beacon Schools to participate. The after-school tutoring concept was adopted by local education officials, and a plan was drafted to start the V.I. schools in 1997.
The schools are nonprofit, depending primarily on outside funding. They are taught by a dedicated group of private citizens at the territory's regular schools after school is out. Beacon's goal is to improve the performance of troubled youth, reduce violence and provide a safe learning environment. First the students receive homework assistance for their regular schoolwork, and then on to fun things like art, sports, drafting, drama, and even computer classes
"We have grown unbelievably," said George. In 1997 the schools had about 700 participants. "Last year it was about 4,000, and this year is around 5,000 at our five sites." There are two schools each on St. Thomas and St. Croix, and one on St. John.
The V.I. Beacon Schools received the prestigious 2000 Metropolitan Life Foundation Outstanding After-school Partnership Award last year, after George saw an application and impulsively decided to apply, her first such application.
What could have been a stumbling block in the schools' major fund-raiser, the fall Beacon Celebrity Golf Tournament, has been turned into an asset by George's ingenuity. Mahogany Run Golf Course, the tournament site, is closed temporarily this year after the course's grass was accidentally destroyed.
"Mahogany Run has arranged for us to transfer the actual tournament play to Carambola Gold course on St. Croix, and American Airlines will sponsor the transportation," George said. "These are two of our platinum sponsors."
The main dinner will be on St. Thomas as usual, but the following day usually spent on St. Thomas will be spent on St. John. "So you see, they get to see all three islands!" George, ever the optimist, said.
There will be an open house at each of the remaining four schools. (See the Source calendar section.) For more information, call George at 777-9300.