April 28, 2002 – Justomania is coming to six schools throughout the Virgin Islands next week.
As the guest of the Charlotte Amalie High School Foreign Language Department, Argentinian singer Justo Lamas will spend the whole week in the territory presenting shows that have multiple purposes. He will share the music, language and culture of his native land; show that English, too, is a "foreign" language; and promote a drug-free lifestyle.
He will be doing 90-minute shows at CAHS, Ivanna Eudora Kean, St. Croix Educational Complex and Country Day high schools, and shorter presentations at the public schools on St. John.
All schools, public and private, in the St. Thomas-St. John district are invited to send delegations of Spanish-language students to at least one of the concerts on these two islands, Silvia Campbell, Education Department foreign languages coordinator, said in a release.
The show, which has toured throughout the U.S. mainland, came about because Lamas "wanted to share his music with American students, and Pam Kaatz, a retired Spanish-language teacher, saw the need to incorporate classroom objectives into the program," Campbell said. "Merging their talents, Pam and Justo have created a unique concert that goes beyond entertainment to become a truly educational activity."
Together, according to an Internet site promoting Lamas' concerts, he and Kaatz have formed "el Equipo Formidable (the Super Team) — that offers an unforgettable experience for students of the Spanish language." And that, it says, is what Justomania is all about.
Lamas and dancer Evangelina Scarabino, both from Buenos Aires, put on a high-powered performance with songs like "La Bamba," "Guantanamera" and "Magdalena." A highlight of the show is a song he wrote and performs called "No Hay Camino Sin Salida" (There's No Road Without a Way Out).
According to Lamas, he wrote the song while thinking about people struggling with problems. "Many times, when people have problems they go to drugs or alcohol, thinking that's where they'll find solutions," he says. "I say the opposite happens; the problems get worse." He adds, "Every problem has a solution. If you can believe, you can succeed."
According to Campbell, "While learning songs, students will also learn about Argentina, a Spanish-speaking country rarely studied in textbooks; become aware of modern Spanish-speaking young people's customs; acquire many useful vocabulary words and language structures; be encouraged to continue their studies of the Spanish language; realize that English is also a foreign language to many people; hear Justo's plea to live a drug-free life; and lose some stereotyped ideas they have about Latin American people."
After exposure to Lamas' talent and charisma, students leave his concerts "with renewed enthusiasm about their study of Spanish and with a renewed spirit toward life in general," the promotional material states.
The local concerts are being made possible in part by a grant from the V.I. Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Here's the schedule of performances:
Monday, May 6 — Charlotte Amalie, two performances, 9:30-11 a.m. and noon-1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 7 — Eudora Kean, two performances, 9:30-11 a.m. and noon-1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 8 — Guy Benjamin School, 8:35-9:15 a.m.; Julius E. Sprauve School, 10-11 a.m.
Thursday, May 9 — Country Day, 1-2:30 p.m.
Friday, May 10 — Educational Complex, 10-11:30 a.m.
For more information about the Argentinian artist and his schools outreach program, see the Justo Lamas web site. For an account of his appearance at a Philadelphia area high school, check out this article from the phillyburbs online publication.
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