Wearing the pleated navy skirts, pressed uniform tops and smart neckties of Charlotte Amalie High School, seniors Gloria Crooke and Nyala Stagger championed their public education during Saturday’s eSIP Expo at Tutu Park Mall.
“People only know about our football team, but they don’t know about the other stuff we do,” said Stagger.
“We have a lot to offer,” Crooke added. The college-bound pair went on to describe new online outreach initiatives, such as a weekly calendar being emailed to parents and the school’s ever-expanding website.
Principal Carmen Howell asked them to represent their school at the Expo, which was hosted by the V.I. Education Department. The Education System Improvement Process initiative – or eSIP for short – is creating a comprehensive and collaborative approach to school planning across the territory, Education officials said in a statement. The initiative emphasizes three priority areas: student achievement, teacher/leader effectiveness and positive school culture.
As community members gathered on St. Thomas, another group met on St. Croix. Attendants took home giveaways such as books and school supplies, and several lucky parents won iPads and $500 Home Depot shopping sprees.
At Tutu Park Mall, representatives from education-focused agencies like the V.I. Labor Department and the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands staffed information tables. As parents and children visited the booths, Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School’s Flambo Combo treated the crowd to smooth-sounding quelbe music.
Calvin Jones, chairman of the school’s Music Department, said the combo is a free extracurricular activity for kids who get to learn from local quelbe greats like Stanley Jacobs.
Squash player and singer Te’Jani Jackson, 12, took a break between sets.
“I like that we get to go places and play for other people,” Jackson said.
In the crowd was Simon Venzen, father of Flambo Combo bass player Khaimal Venzen.
“I try to make sure I come and support him, and support this group,” Simon Venzen said. The Expo, he added, was making him more informed about what is happening in his son’s school district.
Back at the CAHS table, Crooke and Stagger were helping parents sign up to get the school calendar by email and explaining calendar features such as the Word of the Day.
Every day a new word is listed, taught and discussed across the school, Principal Howell said. Addie Ottley of WTJX also shares the words with his adult audience, so the school can help build the entire community’s literacy, Howell said. Recent choices were “harass,” “arbitrary,” “monolithic” and “indigent.”
As Crooke and Stagger spoke with parents, the principal looked to the young women – both of whom exemplify the eSIP values of student achievement and positive school culture – with pride.
“They are leading the effort,” Howell said.