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Monday, February 6, 2023


Oct. 31, 2001 – There were costumes galore at Guy Benjamin School Wednesday, but the theme of the day was not Halloween. Instead, pupils observed "career day," dressed up in outfits to depict vocations they might pursue oneday, while teachers came attired as students.
Alecia M. Wells, manager of the Education Department's School-to-Work Program, said the observance was part of an ongoing series of activities territorywide aimed at helping children prepare for the world of work.
Its timing coincided with a directive from Gov. Charles W. Turbull on Oct. 24
canceling all Halloween activities at the territory's public schools because, he said, it was "better to err on the side of precaution than to run the risk of incidents or criminal acts that might escalate the anxieties and potential dangers Virgin Islanders are presently experiencing."
Saying that "common sense and sound judgment" should prevail, the governor directed the commissioner of Education to cancel Halloween festivities because "many persons are experiencing increasing fears and security concerns due to the acts of terrorism and biochemical attacks and threats," and because "in recent years there have been numerous serious incidents and inappropriate and dangerous pranks surrounding Halloween activities."
Appearing oblivious to any such concerns, future nurses, doctors, singers, teachers, firefighters and more congregated in the bleachers at the school in Coral Bay Wednesday morning for a chance to show off their costumes and also for the annual school elections.
"I want to be an archeologists because I like dinosaurs," Andrew Penn, 6, explained, holding an explorer-style hat in his hand. Evanne Chinnery, 9, opted for a career as a midwife. "You get to hold a real, live baby," she said.
While the kids were decked out in their adult finery, most of the teachers wore green skirts or pants and gold tops — the uniform colors worn every day by their students. "It actually took me longer to get dressed," teacher Verne Graham said, noting that putting her hair in skinny braids was an arduous task.
Another teacher, Pat Harley, said she borrowed from every member of her family to get the look she wanted, which was a humorous take on the whole idea. With a safety pin in her pants, elastic bands with bubbles in her hair, and sneakers and socks, she said she wanted to show students how people notice when they don't look their best.
"I look funny," she said, pointing out the pin that kept her pants from drooping below her waist.
Wells, citing projects at various schools, said the Education Department hopes to sign on more business backers to assist with the program.
Along with exploring future careers Wednesday, the Guy Benjamin pupils also got a civics lesson by voting for student leaders. "This is not a popularity contest," Principal Blanche Bello counseled. "Vote for the person who can do the job best."
When the ballots were counted, Latifah Lanclos was elected president; Kurt Marsh Jr., vice president; Ce'Amber Amory, secretary; Lateefah Carty, treasurer; and Tanjiyah Potter, parliamentarian.

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