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HomeNewsArchives@ School: Julius E. Sprauve Marching Band

@ School: Julius E. Sprauve Marching Band

From left, Officer Steven Payne, Kaheem Walters, Ray Caraballo, Kadijah Brown, ’Jori Christopher, Keziah Liburd and Monique Scott.The members of the Julius E. Sprauve School Marching Band are at the front of the parade when it comes to keeping busy and learning to play steel pan and other musical instruments. However, their participation in the group has a bigger purpose.

“It’s to see they don’t get into the juvenile justice system,” said Steven Payne, the Police Department’s school resource officer and band instructor.

Sprauve School Principal Dionne Wells said that in addition to keeping the students occupied, it helps keep their interest in music alive.

“And they have an opportunity to showcase their talents around the community,” she said.

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The program has its roots in a Police Department initiative called the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Program that was pioneered on St. John but soon spread to other schools in the St. Thomas/St. John district. It fell victim a few years ago to budget cuts, so last summer Payne and the Police Department revitalized it as part of Sprauve School’s programs.

According to Payne, music is the perfect medium because, unlike a basketball team, the program can expand to meet the needs of however many students are interested. And Payne was a music teacher at Joseph Gomez and Addelita Cancryn schools on St. Thomas before joining the Police Department, so he has the expertise.

Payne, 47, busy one morning teaching kids to play an array of musical instruments, said he’d much rather put his energy into preventing juvenile crime than putting handcuffs on students when they’re in trouble with the law.

The marching band program is also a key to keeping students in school, which Payne said was a way to keep them out of trouble.

While neighborhood rivalries are much less of a problem than they are on St. Thomas, Payne said that because the students must make music together as a group, they’re used to cooperating.

The marching band showcases the students’ steel pan prowess, but Payne said the students who are learning to play instruments during school day classes will become members of the band.

The marching band has performed at a variety of venues around the island, including the recent Martin Luther King Day parade, at the Caneel Bay Christmas parade, in St. John’s Festival parade, and at various school functions.

Funding is definitely an issue, and Payne said about eight of the band’s 23 steel pans are so out of tune they can’t be played. He said it would help if an angel came along to fund the much-needed tuning. Uniforms for the band members are also on his wish list.

The students had as many reasons for enjoying the program as the variety of instruments they played. Some were beginners with only a couple of weeks of instruction on their musical score sheets. Others, particularly those that play steel pan, got lots of experience with St. John’s Love City Pan Dragons.

“It’s funner and more entertaining than a regular class,” said pan player Niesha Somersall, 11 and a seventh-grade student.

Taevion Calixte, 13 and in the eighth grade, plays the drums.

“It’s cool and makes the rhythm go better with drums,” he said.

Like others, he also said enjoys learning to read music.

Some, like steel pan player Claesa Stephenson, 12 and in the seventh grade, like the chance to travel with the marching band.

A few had kudos for Payne, calling him inspiring.

“He says ‘Come on, you can do it. See, you just achieved something,” said clarinet player Monique Scott, 14 and in the eighth grade.

Those who want to help with the band’s funding can call Wells at 1-340-776-6337.

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From left, Officer Steven Payne, Kaheem Walters, Ray Caraballo, Kadijah Brown, ’Jori Christopher, Keziah Liburd and Monique Scott.The members of the Julius E. Sprauve School Marching Band are at the front of the parade when it comes to keeping busy and learning to play steel pan and other musical instruments. However, their participation in the group has a bigger purpose.

“It’s to see they don’t get into the juvenile justice system,” said Steven Payne, the Police Department’s school resource officer and band instructor.

Sprauve School Principal Dionne Wells said that in addition to keeping the students occupied, it helps keep their interest in music alive.

“And they have an opportunity to showcase their talents around the community,” she said.

The program has its roots in a Police Department initiative called the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Program that was pioneered on St. John but soon spread to other schools in the St. Thomas/St. John district. It fell victim a few years ago to budget cuts, so last summer Payne and the Police Department revitalized it as part of Sprauve School’s programs.

According to Payne, music is the perfect medium because, unlike a basketball team, the program can expand to meet the needs of however many students are interested. And Payne was a music teacher at Joseph Gomez and Addelita Cancryn schools on St. Thomas before joining the Police Department, so he has the expertise.

Payne, 47, busy one morning teaching kids to play an array of musical instruments, said he’d much rather put his energy into preventing juvenile crime than putting handcuffs on students when they’re in trouble with the law.

The marching band program is also a key to keeping students in school, which Payne said was a way to keep them out of trouble.

While neighborhood rivalries are much less of a problem than they are on St. Thomas, Payne said that because the students must make music together as a group, they’re used to cooperating.

The marching band showcases the students’ steel pan prowess, but Payne said the students who are learning to play instruments during school day classes will become members of the band.

The marching band has performed at a variety of venues around the island, including the recent Martin Luther King Day parade, at the Caneel Bay Christmas parade, in St. John’s Festival parade, and at various school functions.

Funding is definitely an issue, and Payne said about eight of the band’s 23 steel pans are so out of tune they can’t be played. He said it would help if an angel came along to fund the much-needed tuning. Uniforms for the band members are also on his wish list.

The students had as many reasons for enjoying the program as the variety of instruments they played. Some were beginners with only a couple of weeks of instruction on their musical score sheets. Others, particularly those that play steel pan, got lots of experience with St. John’s Love City Pan Dragons.

“It’s funner and more entertaining than a regular class,” said pan player Niesha Somersall, 11 and a seventh-grade student.

Taevion Calixte, 13 and in the eighth grade, plays the drums.

“It’s cool and makes the rhythm go better with drums,” he said.

Like others, he also said enjoys learning to read music.

Some, like steel pan player Claesa Stephenson, 12 and in the seventh grade, like the chance to travel with the marching band.

A few had kudos for Payne, calling him inspiring.

“He says ‘Come on, you can do it. See, you just achieved something,” said clarinet player Monique Scott, 14 and in the eighth grade.

Those who want to help with the band’s funding can call Wells at 1-340-776-6337.