By Lynda Lohr
April 14, 2004 From mucking out manure to visiting the Kennedy Space Center, John's Folly community members have come a long way. Eight years of the John's Folly Learning Institute in St. John will be celebrated on Saturday with a party highlighting that progress.
The party, open to the public, begins at 2:30 p.m. at the Institute and runs until about 7 p.m. Visitors will see how an abandoned building, that had become a home for animals, was turned into a learning center
Alvis Christian, who heads activities at the Institute, said he has invited Gov. Charles Turnbull, Delegate to Congress Donna Christian Christensen and St. John Administrator Julien Harley to make remarks.
The Institute eight years ago started turning the abandoned Horace Mann School into a community center. Administrator Harley is impressed with the effort. "I hope it could be a pilot project for St. John and the territory," Harley said.
"There were no windows, no electricity, no plumbing, and it served as home for animals," Christian said.
The Institute's members mucked out the animal manure, and with help from a contractor, rehabilitated the facility. While the Institute received some grant money, it raised much of the funds needed through food sales.
The work is not over. In the past year members have been landscaping the property and gravelling much of the parking area.
The Institute holds computer, after school tutoring classes and a gardening program for John's Folly children. In August 2003, the Institute took 15 children to visit the Kennedy Space Center. "They really saw things up close," Christian said.
The Institute has seen community use grow during the past year. The Coral Bay Community Council holds its monthly meeting at the Institute.
Besides providing an opportunity for St. John residents to tour the building, organizers say the event will enable members of the John's Folly community to socialize and enjoy refreshments.
Adding to the community flavor of the event, George and Erlene January will celebrate their 53rd wedding anniversary at a party.
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