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Ricardo Richards Kids Toast Queens and Generals

Backed by Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, DeJahni Lawrence sings "Liza Williams."Singing quelbe songs like "Queen Mary" and "General Buddhoe" about the deeds of historical V.I figures, Ricardo Richards students spent the afternoon outside Friday, showcasing their culture and history to their fellow students and parents.

Public schools across St. Croix are donning madras, holding traditional teas and putting on shows for their parents all through March, to celebrate V.I. History Month.

With Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, the storied standard bearers of these islands’ traditional quelbe music, providing proper backup music, students Michondee Delauney, Renisha Wade and Chelsea Valery sang "Queen Mary," a traditional song celebrating the role of St. Croix native Mary Thomas in organizing the Fireburn labor revolt. Although the revolt was violently put down, with numerous executions, and Queen Mary arrested and shipped to Denmark, it succeeded in loosening near-medieval restrictions on labor and increasing pay for laborers.

Ms. Smith’s 3rd grade class sang "General Buddhoe," about Moses "Buddhoe" Gottlieb, who organized the successful slave revolt of 1848 on St. Croix, leading to emancipation that year – more than a decade before the U.S. Civil War began.

Sixth-grader DeJahni Lawrence took the microphone and strode out by himself to sing "Liza Williams," another quelbe traditional.

Fifth-graders Nayelis Saldany and Da’Nequa Jarvis sang the "Bronco Jig," while the Ricardo Richards Quadrille Dancers showed off their steps. And student Renisha Wade recited "Raise Your Head to Quelbe," a poem by St. Croix author, poet and playwright Richard Schrader.

There has already been a quiz bowl, and a puppet and poetry show at Ricardo Richards; an oral communication showcase at Charles H. Emanuel Elementary; and presentations on outstanding Virgin Islanders at Evelyn M. Williams Elementary School.

On Monday, Ricardo Richards school will continue the celebration with an Elementary Quiz Bowl for students in second through sixth grade, while Claude O. Markoe Elementary School steel orchestra entertains Adventure of the Seas passengers from 2 p.m. at the Ann Abramson Pier in Frederiksted.

Tuesday, St. Croix Educational Complex presents a cultural program “Footprints from a Shackled Past” from 12:30 to 3:15 p.m. in the school’s gymnasium. Students will be allowed to wear colored clothes for a small fee of $2. Proceeds will go towards the funding of the Language Arts Showcase and the National English Honor Society induction ceremonies scheduled for April. And schools will be going on historical and cultural tours throughout the month.

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