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Charlotte Amalie
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Complex HS Teacher and Junior Achievement Filmmaker Bring Out the Best in Students

St. Croix Educational Complex High School and Junior Achievement USVI came together to empower the youth of the US Virgin Islands. SCECHS drama teacher Sayeeda Carter and JAUSVI filmmaker Ariff Butler worked with students in the two-day filmmaking workshop. Carter’s drama students were excused from regular classes both days to attend the project.

Butler spent two days working with students at the St. Croix Central High School in the filmmaking workshop on their campus. It was with that knowledge that Carter, without hesitation, spoke with JAUSVI Director Wayne Archibald and was successful in getting a similar workshop underway for her third-period drama class students at the Complex.

JAUSVI Executive Director Wayne Archibald (Photo courtesy of Wayne Archibald)

Carter’s drama background and teaching experience and Butler’s filmmaking work were a “strong collaboration” for the two individuals.

JAUSVI brought Jamaican native Butler to the V.I. to work directly on teaching and building financial literacy in the schools so that students are better prepared to execute life when they leave upon graduation, he said.

“My purpose is to show that one area where students can gain financial freedom is in cinematography and filmmaking.” Butler has been in the film industry more than 15 years, working with clients like the singer, television presenter, and actress Grace Kennedy, the United Nations, and “pretty much every Jamaican musician there is, and the gospel industry, as well,” he said. Butler’s resume lists his work with high-profile documentaries.

Butler was very much impressed by the students’ grasp of the filmmaking process. “When they were given the tutorial on the first day, they thought it would be easy developing a five-minute film until they began the process and understood the principles of filmmaking. They acknowledged their limitations, and they realized how working with each other and not tripping over each other was important to the process,” he said.

Ariff Butler trains actors Jianna Cecilo and Yaharia Hendrickson to show subtle gestures and movements. (Photo courtesy of Sayeeda Carter)

“By the second day, they were able to produce the film. This meant getting the necessary approval from each department, not talking over each other and moving in a better-streamlined fashion, which helped them to move faster,” Butler said.

Ariff Butler demonstrates to Joseph Bowen lighting and role of grips and gaffers on set. (Photo courtesy of Sayeeda Carter)

“The collaboration with Ariff Butler was so great. He is taking all the works the students did and will create a four to five-minute film that they can have a ‘watch party’ and enjoy seeing the fruits of their labor,” Carter said.

Two students practice taking a wide establishing shot. (Photo courtesy of Sayeeda Carter)

“We have also asked him to collaborate with us again and do a summer residency at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts in Frederiksted. Hopefully, it will be a ‘go’ for summer 2023. We have stayed in touch and found ways we can work together, with me as an artist.”

Two of the drama class students shared their experiences:

Denzil Huggins, a 12th grader, worked on the set as an actor. “The experience was entertaining, and I learned a lot with Mr. Butler, and I hope we can do this again in the near future,” he said.

Gabriella Alexander, a 12th grader, worked on the set as the director. “I learned many things — like how to properly organize, how to work behind a crew and different techniques for filming. The project provided a good leadership role, and I learned many leadership skills,” she said.

All in all, it was a positive project that allowed students to see exactly what a filmmaker’s job entails, and it gave them a view of all the jobs on the set, Carter said.

SCECHS Teacher Sayeeda Carter and JAUSVI Filmmaker Ariff Butler (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

“Based on behavioral patterns in the schools, the arts industry is a very necessary and important implement to integrate into the school system. There are no ‘bad’ kids. Where behavioral issues are, there are energies these kids need to channel in the right direction. Believe me. You will have a lot less fights when kids are given the opportunity to work in something like the arts. The school environment would be more successful,” Butler said.

JAUSVI Director Wayne Archibald said, “Since its inception, the organization has reached over 10,000 students on St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John, from ages five to 25, in activities focused on entrepreneurship, work readiness, and financial literacy.”

According to Archibald, “The purpose of the U.S. Virgin Islands Chapter of Junior Achievement International is to provide and facilitate responsive initiatives and programs that are designed to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a local and global economy through interaction with mentors, the business community, and other stakeholders.

“JAUSVi has partnered with the Department of Education and obtained approval to begin the program in the public schools. In February 2009, the pilot program, Economics for Success, began in the middle schools and has since become a staple program on the JAUSVI calendar,” he said.

“The impact of the JAUSVI program is far-reaching and sets the pace for the youth across the territory to explore their untapped potential,” Archibald said.

“Junior Achievement is the only educational partner with the scalability and proven performance to deliver experiential education across entire school systems. Our vision is to ensure that every student in the USVI is 100 percent inspired, 100 percent prepared, and 100 percent employed when the time comes. That’s why we do what we do, and we continue to encourage more volunteers, donors, and partners to come on board to donate time and resources,” he said.

SCECHS Student Credits

* Amaya Edward, Set Design, 10th grade

* Yaharia Henderickson, Actor, 12th grade

* Joseph Bowen, Gaffer and Grip, 12th grade

* Wrenna Grittens, Cinematographer, 10th grade

* Trissharra Knight, Head Writer, 10th grade

* Gabriella Alexander, Director, 12th grade

* CheAmor Vasquez, Writer, 12th grade

* Jianna Cecilio, Actor, 10th grade

* D’ondre Arrive, Actor and Director, 12th grade

* Assaih Issac, Gaffer, 10th grade

* Sakura Flores, Set Design, 12th grade

* Darines Sanchez, Producer, 10th grade

* Sole Rodgers, Actor, 10th grade

* Rehanna Griffins, Cinematographer, 11th grade

* Denzil Huggins, Actor, 12th grade

For more information:


Bloozick Filmworks (Ariff Butler)


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