Charlotte Amalie High School students and faculty cheered Friday morning as they officially received more than $30,000 worth of equipment that the Rotary Club of St. Thomas donated to the school’s Career Center.
Some 50 people – including CAHS student, faculty, staff, and members of Rotary St. Thomas – marked the event with a short acceptance ceremony held inside the Career Center itself.
“Some of the things that Rotary does are local projects and international project,” said Rotary St. Thomas President Heflyn Royer. “And one of the most lucrative is taking care of our young people within the community. It’s part of our journey in terms of community engagement.”
CAHS principal Carmen Howell, in her welcoming remarks, highlighted the importance of the center in student life.
“The Career Center is like the hub for students,” she said after thanking the Rotary Club. “This is where they come if they are interested in doing research, whether it’s for colleges’admission procedures, looking up information on the SAT, registering online. There was no career center the way it exists today.”
After the ceremony, some 15 students eagerly tested the new electronics: a total of 15 new desktop computers, two printers and one scanner, all available for use by CAHS students accessing the Career Center.
Math teacher Mario Turnbull, who used to manage the Career Center and advises the school’s Interact Club, was especially pleased with the Rotary donation.
“Before this Career Center, computer access was limited,” said Turnbull. “There’s the library and the Media Center they can go to at lunch time and after school. But with the Career Center, they can come here anytime. It’s always available.”
Every year, Rotary St. Thomas selects “particular projects of need” on St. Thomas, coming to schools, speaking with school administrators and taking survey to identify particular needs within the school. Its engagement with CAHS goes back 10 years, when it officially adopted the high school.
CAHS initially approached Rotary St. Thomas for small donations. Then in 2007, the club started making larger donations and embarking on bigger projects within the school.
It began with projects improving the school’s vocational program, particularly the automotive area, as well as the Reading 180 project. In total, Rotary St. Thomas donated up to $180,000 thus far to CAHS, spread across six major donations, three of which went to the development of the Career Center.
Work on the Career Center occurred in three stages. First came the actual development of the space, for which Rotary donated furniture, blinds, and cabinetry.
“There was a room where they had equipment and stuff of use, but it was not of the magnitude of a career center,” recalled Royer, a 10-year veteran of the club. “Working with them many years ago, we realized this was a project of need, so Rotary stepped up.”
The second stage consisted of the first batch of computers, donated six years ago. The machines have since deteriorated, according to Turnbull, leaving them with only six working units. These were replaced by the Friday batch, which came out of the third sizeable donation from Rotary.
“It was really time,” said Rotarian Jean Pierre Montegut. “In today’s technology, and for the kids to have the best experience in terms of working on the computers and on the internet, they needed upgraded equipment.”
The new computers will be available during the Career Center’s operation hours: Mondays to Fridays during the first, second and third periods, from 8:10 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.
Montegut, who has been a member of Rotary St. Thomas for three years, emphasized that cooperation from school administrators is key in the success of school-based Rotary projects.
“A lot of times, the decision on what project to do comes out of a discussion with the principal,” he explained. “What are the greatest needs and what is it that we can actually do? It’s really that partnership and discussion that helps us decide.”