A St. Croix adopt-a-school initiative, the brainchild of Sen. Usie Richards, was kicked off Saturday morning with a breakfast meeting of community leaders, prominent business people, teachers and administrators — and some outstanding local students who performed storytelling and poem reading, delighting their mentors and the audience alike.
The gathering, about 100 strong, met on the St. Croix campus of the University of the Virgin Islands and heard speakers urge community cooperation in the effort, which aims to help schools through private contributions of money, supplies and volunteer work to supplement the government in public education.
"This is an opportunity to begin laying the foundation, setting the table, and establishing the framework by which we can assure that our community can play its rightful role in the development and improvement of the quality of education in the district of St. Croix and ultimately the entire territory of the United States Virgin Islands," Richards said.
Richards, who serves on the Senate Education and Youth Committee, said that since his election he has become "intimately involved" with the educators and administrators of the public school system.
Five "pilot schools" were selected to begin the program: Eulalie R. Rivera Professional Development School, Central High, John H. Woodson Junior High, Claude O. Markoe Elementary and Lew Muckle Elementary.
Richards said that no school in the nation could succeed without the support of the private sector and the community.
"We are here today," he said, "to inform and convince you that our administration, principals, teachers, parents and students have been doing and continue to do their utmost best to provide a quality public education for our children with very scarce resources." He said that any help will go a long way toward improving the public schools and urged people to get out "of the bleachers" and pitch in.
Attorney Emile Henderson, who is a product of the St. Croix public school system and defended its ability to turn out top students, told the audience: "Public education is expensive, but how expensive is ignorance?"
Other speakers were WAXJ-FM talk-show host Roger W. Morgan, Dr. Ruth Beagles, Superintendent Terrence Joseph and Marvin Pickering of V.I. Rum Industries.
For more information about the Adopt-a-School project, call Richards' office at 712-2324.
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