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Monday, January 30, 2023

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SCHOOL OPENINGS SMOOTH ON ST. JOHN

Aug. 28 – Julius E. Sprauve School Principal Shirley Joseph aims to get her students off on the right foot.
"If you can believe you can do it, you will," she said at an orientation for students and parents in the Cruz Bay school’s newly painted and decorated cafeteria.
But, as she does every year, she also had strong words for students who might think about not towing the line. Children whose attire doesn’t meet the dress code, those who get in trouble on the playground and those who don’t bring their homework to school will be sent home, she said. Their parents will then have to meet with her before the children will be allowed back in school.
"We’re not policemen," she said.
Lunch periods have always been a major headache for the teachers. The children usually spend much of the time tearing about the playground. To counter that tendency, they’ll be invited to a supervised activity room stocked with board games, art supplies and other child-friendly fun items.
"It will be child directed," said Patricia Mortensen, the school’s permanent substitute teacher, who is overseeing the activity room.
The 300 Sprauve students in grades kindergarten through 9 -– up from 284 last year — mostly appeared ready to face the year in new shoes, blue skirts or pants and yellow shirts or blouses. A handful of fifth-grade girls said they were nervous.
"But I’m excited, too, because I met my friends here," said 9-year-old Timmica Hendrickson.
Diane Drayton, waiting for classes to begin with her daughter, Chelsea Solomon, 10, said that parents need to get involved with their children's school activities. "Too many don’t connect school to achieving in life," Drayton said. While Joseph would like all parents to get involved, she said she realizes that some won't. To help address that problem, teachers in the upper grades will serve as advisers to help motivate students to achieve. "These children are of an age to take responsibility for themselves," she said.
Fifth-grade teacher Juanita Canton said she hopes for a better year than last year. Little more than a month into the year last fall, teachers went on strike.
"I’m looking forward to success this year," Canton said.
While most school repairs were completed over the summer, Joseph said, air-conditioning equipment still needs maintenance and the screens need to be power washed. The screens are covered with a coat of volcanic ash that was carried to the Virgin Islands after a dome collapsed in the Soufriere volcano on Montserrat in late July.
At Guy Benjamin School in Coral Bay, Principal Blanche Bello said the year got off to a smooth start. "It’s a nice little school," she said.
Guy Benjamin has around 110 students. Bello said there is a slight increase over last year's enrollment, but that she would not have firm figures until the staff made a final count.

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