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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, May 18, 2024
HomeNewsLocal governmentSenate Looks to Honor Dancer, Sportsman, and a Politician

Senate Looks to Honor Dancer, Sportsman, and a Politician

Marley Cassius, a seventh-grade student at John H. Woodson Jr. High School on St. Croix, performs a Bamboula dance. She was named the inaugural recipient of the V.I. Education Department’s Youth Cultural Bearer of the Month award. Her teacher may earn recognition from the Senate. (Photo courtesy of the V.I. Education Department)

The Committee on Government Operations, Veterans Affairs, and Consumer Protection on Wednesday moved forward three pieces of legislation that would honor residents who have contributed to the fields of music, dance, and sports.

The resolution honoring Charlita Schuster also commended the Music in Motion School of Higher Dance, which she founded and is celebrating its 40th anniversary. When she founded the dance school in 1982 on the West End of St. Croix, it was called Music in Motion Dance Academy.

Emmanuella Perez Cassius testified, “As a mother, I am grateful for the opportunity the school has provided for my youngest daughter, Marley Cassius, to develop her natural love for the art of dance.”

She added, “Over the past eight years, Ms. Schuster has consistently provided dance skill development, instilled discipline, and cultivated a professional approach to training in Marley. Additionally, she has given Marley the confidence to embrace challenges, learn from failures, and persevere through difficulties.”

Marley earlier this year was the inaugural recipient of the Education Department’s “Youth Cultural Bearer of the Month” award.

ChenziRa Davis Kahina, president of the Caribbean Studies Association, testified that Schuster was “a seasoned prima ballerina, master dance educator, professional etiquette consultant, and dance performing production artistic director and producer extraordinaire.”

Afrilasia Joseph-Phipps testified, “At Music in Motion, I learned all forms of dance genres, but my foundation was classical ballet. Dance training taught me how to be graceful, poised, and disciplined and brought out my natural creativity and ability to perform as a ballet dancer. Most importantly it helped me build lots and lots of courage and confidence. In short, my years at MIM helped me become the woman I am today.”

Dr. Olaf “Bronco” Hendricks is being recognized not only for his skills as a psychiatrist but also as a musician playing with the Ten Sleepless Knights.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Franklin Johnson and co-sponsored by Sen. Carla Joseph, says the recognition is “for his tireless years of remarkable and invaluable contributions to the people of the Virgin Islands in the field of psychiatry, his advocacy for social justice for individuals with behavioral health and substance use issues, and for his music.”

Kai Hendricks testified, “Today, I stand before you not only as a devoted citizen of our magnificent Virgin Islands but also as the proud son of a man whose contributions have profoundly shaped countless lives.”

Also speaking in support of the bill was Hendricks’ classmate throughout grade school, former Delegate to Congress Dr. Donna Christian-Christensen.

She said, “As someone who has known Bronco all this time, it is a great honor for me to be here to pay tribute to this man who for all the years of his adult and professional life has carried all of our burdens, anxieties, depressions, psychoses, and the contradictions and conflicts of our community on his back and his psyche. That has not by any means been an easy burden or one that any one of us could have carried with the skill, aplomb, empathy, and selflessness that he did.”

Hendricks was at the same time the chief territorial psychiatrist at the Department of Health and the Hospital, the prison psychiatrist, the forensic psychiatrist at the courts, and a private practitioner of psychiatry.

The committee also considered an act awarding the V.I. Medal of Honor posthumously to former Sen. Edgar Milton Iles for “his commendable public service and contributions to the people of the Virgin Islands.”

The act says Iles realized the importance of volunteering his skills and did so for various organizations. They included the St. Croix Home Guard, the Boy Scouts, the Boys’ Club, the American Red Cross, the Auxiliary Firefighters, the Special Olympics, the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Frederiksted Festival Committee, the Rotary Club St. Croix-West, Horse Racing Judge, the Governor’s Blue Ribbon, Committee on Parks, Sports, and Recreation, the Inter-Islands Athletic Meets Committee, and the Grove Place Action Committee.

Iver Stridiron served two terms in the Senate with Iles. Stridiron said Iles was a professional who joined efforts to help, not seeking leadership roles, but his leadership qualities were always found out.

Keisha Iles, the daughter of Edgar Iles, said her father “had a passion and dedication for the advancement of sports and collaborating with young athletes and fellow sports enthusiasts in the territory.”

Iles was the assistant director of Sports within the Division of Parks and Recreation in the 1970s. He served in various capacities in the boxing, softball, track and field, and volleyball federations. He became the president of the V.I. Olympic Committee and served for 20 years.

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