Nov. 29, 2004 Shovels and scoops in hand, a group of seniors and preschoolers from the St. John School on Gifft Hill broke ground Monday for the school's gymnasium.
"This is an historic occasion. This is the first high school campus in the history of our island," co-administrator Scott Crawford said as 185 students, parents and spectators listened.
The gymnasium is located on Gifft Hill down the road from the existing Gifft Hill section of the school. Pine Peace School and The Coral Bay School joined forces during the summer to form the St. John School on Gifft Hill. High school students continue to attend classes at the Lumberyard Shopping Complex, while younger students are housed in the former Pine Peace School on Gifft Hill.
The gymnasium will be initially used as a classroom.
It sits on a hilltop with views of the island's north and south shores.
Crawford is crossing his fingers that the steel building to house the gymnasium is done in time for spring break in March. If not, it will be the start of school in September before they're able to use it.
He said the staff needs a stretch of time like spring break to move equipment and materials from the other school.
"It would be tough to move over the weekend," he said.
Crawford told the students to come up with ideas for a time capsule to be place in the new school.
The students put dirt from the groundbreaking in a wheelbarrow to be saved until the building is done. It will then be used to plant a tree at the school.
Students arrived in yellow school buses from their campuses for the ceremony.
Tyler Bradley, 16, acting president of the high school student council, said the new school will give the students much-needed space and an opportunity to broaden their horizons.
"And the Lumberyard is kind of a busy place," he said.
Bradley is one of several students who take the ferry from St. Thomas every day to attend classes on St. John.
Eric Miller, 11, is president of the lower grades' student council.
"I'm extremely psyched about the new school," he said in his remarks.
Miller received applause when he told the audience that because of the new school, the future looks very bright.
Allen Glenn, whose two daughters attend the St. John School, said his family would have had to leave St. John when his daughters got to high school age because he wouldn't send them via ferry and bus to school on St. Thomas.
"This gives us a chance to educate our kids on St. John," he said.
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