Editor’s Note: Amy H. Roberts is a St. John School of the Arts board member.
Under the new leadership of executive director Jeune´ Provost, the St. John School of the Arts is continuing its ambitious programming and finding new ways to expand its presence in the community.
Provost, who had served as the assistant principal of the Julius E. Sprauve School for four years, moved literally across the street to her new office in August. It’s not entirely a radical change — Provost had previously supervised the curriculum at the School of the Arts and taught Caribbean dance to children and adults.
Susan Stair, president of the board of the School of the Arts, said she was thrilled when Provost applied for the job. “I’m a huge fan. Her enthusiasm, her vision, her arts background, and her technical skills are creating a new future for the school,” she said.
In addition to revising procedures for students, parents, faculty members and staff, Provost has put an enhanced emphasis on bringing the arts into the community. Students and faculty are aware from the beginning of the term that they will be performing or sharing their art with the public at least twice a semester.
It may take the form of artwork displayed at a domestic violence awareness event, a dance performance at Mongoose Junction, a photography exhibit at Bajo El Sol Gallery, or simply a tots’ tumbling showcase for parents and friends.
Inclusivity is important to Provost, who was instrumental in getting a grant from the Theresa Foundation to offer Open Arms, a program tailored to public school students who have a range of learning needs.
This semester, Sprauve School teacher K.D. Munnelly has brought her students to the School of the Arts, where art teacher Shira Sofer has introduced them to printmaking, clay sculpture, and tie-dyeing. In the next few months, they’ll get instruction in music and movement.
The School of the Arts has also reached out to seniors on St. John. Twice a week, artists head up Centerline Road to the Adrian Senior Center to offer sessions in singing, drumming, movement, and the visual arts.
In addition to offering after-school classes in violin, guitar, vocal training, theater, fashion design, photography, and a range of visual arts, the St. John School of the Arts has brought arts enrichment to classrooms on St. John. This year, music educator James Kivlen has been teaching guitar, keyboards, drums and recorder to elementary students at the Gifft Hill School.
The school charges a fee for its classes, but community donations ensure that every child who wants to take a class can afford to. Recently, AKA Sorority members presented a scholarship to Louriet Powell.
Now that the COVID pandemic is somewhat under control, the school is opening its doors to community members who want a space to share their skills. In early December, the St. John band Mother Goat held an album release party at the school, bringing a new generation of island residents to the facility. Monika Araña now teaches yoga at 8:30 on Friday mornings, and bridge players are once again gathering on Monday mornings at 10:30 for some friendly competition. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
The School of the Arts is also known for its Sis Frank Concert series. Named in honor of the school’s co-founder, the series brings world-class musicians to perform in its intimate concert space during the winter and spring months.
This year, Jeune´ Provost worked with her brother-in-law, steelpan jazz musician Victor Provost, to arrange a concert series that will appeal to a wide range of tastes.
The series begins on Feb. 17 with Cordas do Sol, an ensemble from the Cape Verde Islands.
Classical music lovers will want to be sure to attend the performance of the Escher Quartet on March 10.
On March 24, Akua Allrich and the Tribe will bring their fusion of jazz, blues, R & B and soul to the School of the Arts.
Finally, on April 17, Victor Provost and pianist Alex Brown will return to the School of the Arts, where Victor studied steel pan as a young musician for a night of elevating jazz.
Tickets are $50 a concert, $175 for the series. Further details about the concerts are available on the school’s website. Tickets may be ordered on the St. John School of the Arts website.
Finally, the school is once again offering Broadway Comes to St. John, its signature theater arts experience for all fourth-grade students on the island. In January, two Broadway professionals will come down to St. John to work intensively with students at the Sprauve School, the Gifft Hill School, the St. John Christian Academy, and also home-schooled students to present “When I Grew Up,” a musical showcase.
Two performances will be held on Jan. 28. The 6 p.m. show is a fundraiser for the school; “angel tickets” include a pre-show wine-tasting at Miss Meada’s Plaza hosted by Island Hope Wines and a post-show dinner at one of St. John’s fine-dining restaurants. Details will be available soon.
Jeune´ Provost is juggling all of these initiatives and events as if she’s been doing it for years. “The job is a marriage of both of my worlds — education and my passion for the arts,” she said. “It’s rewarding to see the students develop in a different way, through the arts, and it’s been really wonderful to re-introduce the St. John School of the Arts to the community.”
For further information about the school, call 340-779-4322 or email email@example.com.