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New St. John School Finally Approved

May 28, 2008 — Drawing on unprecedented intra-governmental cooperation, Gov. John deJongh Jr. and U.S. Sen. John "Jay" Rockefeller IV announced plans Wednesday for a new school on St. John, which will end decades of ferry rides for the island's students.
"It is the right thing to do," Rockefeller said during a press conference at Julius E. Sprauve Elementary in Cruz Bay on St. Thomas. "Maintaining the status quo was the wrong thing to do."
Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who received the territory's Alexander Hamilton Award in February, said he lent his support to the initiative when he learned that St. John children had to take the ferry to go to Ivanna Eudora Kean High School on St. Thomas.
When the governor contacted Rockefeller about the issue, deJongh said, the senator's immediate response was "How can I help?" Rockefeller's family donated the land that launched the national park on St. John in the 1950s.
Obstacles to the acquisition were considerable. Most of the land on St. John is under the purview of the National Park Service (NPS), and privately owned land is prohibitively expensive.
The land for the school was acquired in an unusual choreography between congressional offices, territorial and federal agencies and a non-profit organization.
First, the non-profit Trust for Public Lands purchased Alexander Hamilton's historic St. Croix home. The Trust then gifted the St. Croix property to the V.I. government, which in turn swapped that land for NPS land on St. John.
The initiative required support and cooperation between the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service, the territorial government, the St. Thomas/St. John school system, the Friends of the V.I. National Park, the Trust for Public Lands and the offices of Delegate Donna M. Christensen and Senators Rockefeller and Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican who also received an Alexander Hamilton Award in February.
The Trust for Public Lands is a national nonprofit organization that conserves land for parks and a number of other places for the public to enjoy. For more information about the Trust for Public Lands, click here.
Almost as an encore, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne released $200,000 in grant money to the territory to conduct a feasibility analysis of the proposed school site at Estate Catherineberg.
This amount of government cooperation almost never happens, Rockefeller said. Describing the transaction as "win-win-win-win-win," he pointed out the attraction that the Hamilton property will have as a tourist destination.
"Alexander Hamilton is a mythological figure in the U.S.," Rockefeller said. "People don't know that he got his financial skills here. When NPS takes that over, it is going to change. So many more people are going to come to St. Croix."
The Hamilton site will increase NPS holdings on St. Croix by 10 percent, said Joel Tutein, park superintendent on St. Croix. The superintendent for the V.I. National Park on St. John also praised the plan.
"It is a great day to be superintendent," Mark Hargrove said.
Both Hargrove and Tutein expressed hopes that the new school will have an environmental educator and classes.
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May 28, 2008 -- Drawing on unprecedented intra-governmental cooperation, Gov. John deJongh Jr. and U.S. Sen. John "Jay" Rockefeller IV announced plans Wednesday for a new school on St. John, which will end decades of ferry rides for the island's students.
"It is the right thing to do," Rockefeller said during a press conference at Julius E. Sprauve Elementary in Cruz Bay on St. Thomas. "Maintaining the status quo was the wrong thing to do."
Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who received the territory's Alexander Hamilton Award in February, said he lent his support to the initiative when he learned that St. John children had to take the ferry to go to Ivanna Eudora Kean High School on St. Thomas.
When the governor contacted Rockefeller about the issue, deJongh said, the senator's immediate response was "How can I help?" Rockefeller's family donated the land that launched the national park on St. John in the 1950s.
Obstacles to the acquisition were considerable. Most of the land on St. John is under the purview of the National Park Service (NPS), and privately owned land is prohibitively expensive.
The land for the school was acquired in an unusual choreography between congressional offices, territorial and federal agencies and a non-profit organization.
First, the non-profit Trust for Public Lands purchased Alexander Hamilton's historic St. Croix home. The Trust then gifted the St. Croix property to the V.I. government, which in turn swapped that land for NPS land on St. John.
The initiative required support and cooperation between the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service, the territorial government, the St. Thomas/St. John school system, the Friends of the V.I. National Park, the Trust for Public Lands and the offices of Delegate Donna M. Christensen and Senators Rockefeller and Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican who also received an Alexander Hamilton Award in February.
The Trust for Public Lands is a national nonprofit organization that conserves land for parks and a number of other places for the public to enjoy. For more information about the Trust for Public Lands, click here.
Almost as an encore, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne released $200,000 in grant money to the territory to conduct a feasibility analysis of the proposed school site at Estate Catherineberg.
This amount of government cooperation almost never happens, Rockefeller said. Describing the transaction as "win-win-win-win-win," he pointed out the attraction that the Hamilton property will have as a tourist destination.
"Alexander Hamilton is a mythological figure in the U.S.," Rockefeller said. "People don't know that he got his financial skills here. When NPS takes that over, it is going to change. So many more people are going to come to St. Croix."
The Hamilton site will increase NPS holdings on St. Croix by 10 percent, said Joel Tutein, park superintendent on St. Croix. The superintendent for the V.I. National Park on St. John also praised the plan.
"It is a great day to be superintendent," Mark Hargrove said.
Both Hargrove and Tutein expressed hopes that the new school will have an environmental educator and classes.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.