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Jan. 12, 2004 – Thanks to a nearly $2,000 donation by the Accommodations Council of St. John, Julius E. Sprauve School will be able to provide after-school woodworking classes for all St. John fifth- and sixth-graders starting Jan. 20.
"We are particularly fond of funding programs that have to do with St. John kids," said Eileen Duffy, who owns Catered To, a vacation villa management company.
The money from the council comes from the daily $1 room fee voluntarily paid by guests at the island's vacation villas. Half the money raised goes to fund the St. John Community Foundation endowment fund and the other half to pay for projects like this one.
The Accommodations Council bought three mini-lathes, a bench grinder, turning tools, and other accessories to use in wood turning.
Duffy said that the program needs donations of hardwoods, including mahogany, flamboyant and white or yellow prickle. She hopes that gardeners and contractors will keep the class in mind instead of hauling scraps and tree trimmings to the dump.
Starfish Market donated shelving so the new class can fit into the industrial arts classroom.
Classes will run from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays until mid-May. Teacher Avelino Samuel said he doesn't know how many children will sign up and therefore is not sure whether the students will be able to attend both Tuesday and Thursday classes or whether the class will have to be split up to provide one session a week for the students.
Duffy said students in the fifth and sixth grades have less of an opportunity to learn shop skills than do older students who can enroll in Sprauve School's industrial arts program.
Samuel said that the mini-lathes are better suited for younger students, compared to the larger ones the shop program currently uses.
Duffy expects that the program will help the students develop their artistic skills, as well as provide discipline, vocational and life skills.
"It provides them with a hobby, self-discipline, safety with tools, and a little bit of design [knowledge]," Samuel added.
Samuel is Sprauve School's industrial arts teacher. With a stellar reputation as a wood turner, he will pass on his considerable skill to the island's youth. Duffy, who has studied for 10 years in Samuel's night school class, said she will serve as an assistant.
To sign up, visit Sprauve School's wood shop (located across from the Texaco station) at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 20. Students will receive forms to be signed by their parents.
Call Samuel at 776-6336 or Duffy at 776-6641.

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