Alumni News! – 4.27.18
April 27, 2018
May 11, 2018
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Dear Parents:

From spectacular artwork at the Art Show to eloquent legal arguments in Moot Court, our students once again shined this week on campus and off. Here are a few key notes before you browse the wonderful flurry of activities further down:

1.Re-accreditation surveys. As I mentioned last week, we have begun our Middle States Association re-accreditation self-study to prepare for the Middle States team visit November 14-16. We are excited to use this process as an opportunity to understand more clearly what we do well as a school, where we can improve, and what specific next steps we can take to become a better school.

To obtain critical feedback and a broader perspective, we ask that one parent from each household take approximately 30 minutes to complete this 56-question survey based on the 12 standards for accreditation:

The password is “GHCDS” in all caps. For parents who are also trustees, we ask that you complete instead the Trustee Survey we will send shortly. For parents who are also faculty, we ask that you complete instead the Faculty survey we will send shortly. For parents who are also alumni, you should NOT complete the Alumni Survey and instead complete just the Parent Survey. Please answer candidly. If you are not sure about a particular question, please simply leave it blank. The survey will be available from today, Friday, May 4, until Monday, May 14, at 8am. Thank you in advance for your participation!

2.Parents’ Association Election. We are also excited about re-building our Parents Association after a long Irma-Maria respite. Engaging parents in meaningful ways to support the School is essential for a world-class education—and a strong Parents Association can help make this happen. On Tuesday, May 22 from 8 to 9am in the library we will be holding a meeting for interested parents about the Parents Association, and we will be electing officers for the 2018-19 school year. Mr. Angel Tirado, our current Parents Association President who has been and continues to be a pillar at School, will become the Parents Association President Emeritus and continue to support the newly-elected officers.

3.Senior Prank. Our upper school faculty met on Tuesday for a thoughtful discussion of the “senior prank”—and whether or not that fits with our GHCDS mission and core values. Ms. Grey will be communicating with upper school parents and students about this next week. I would like to clarify one important point: last Sunday morning I was contacted by one of our seniors asking for permission to spray paint two designs on the east wall of the gym. I granted permission. We have talented students who, if given the chance, could certainly make the wall look better than it currently does. I am pleased with the result and only wish they had made this 10x bigger for more of an impact! They also learned an important lesson: when you commit to art, some will like it, some won’t, but you have to believe in yourself, develop thick skin, and move on. I applaud them for their courage to take a sanctioned risk and have their work judged in public. We need more courageous leaders who follow this principle.

4.From St. Croix to the World!

Students on St. Croix have exciting opportunities to connect with the world in different ways—and the life experience they gain is priceless.

Next weekend Jack Falconer, Kieran Walter-Sundaram, Savanna Capdeville, Ariel Sutherland, and Donovan Capdeville will be traveling with Ms. Coles to Pittsburg to participate in the Intel Science and Engineering Fair and interact with some of the brightest young minds in the country. We are enormously proud of their efforts, and are enormously grateful to Jane Coles, Laurie Dunton, and Dr. Turk for their efforts in coordinating the overall Science Fair program this year.

In June, two of our students, Lily Falconer and Josh Rodgers, representing the US Virgin Islands, will join 200 other 12-year-olds from around the world in Moscow, Russia for the annual International Football for Friendship Children’s Forum and World Championship. This event brings children together to play the game and learn about upholding principles like friendship, equality, peace and respect for different cultures and nationalities.

Finally, here are the latest BAM! (Better After Maria) stories from just the last week that reflect our efforts to build a world-class school for our students here on St. Croix:

  • Room 9 has air-conditioning! While many of our classrooms, especially in the upper school, routinely have temperatures above 80 degrees and some above 90 degrees—far from optimal for teaching and learning—this is no longer a problem in Room 9. We still need to install the radiant barrier to make the space more energy efficient, but the commercial-grade A/C unit for the building was a big improvement. This is a pilot for what we might do in other buildings with excessively high temperatures, though the current cost of power is a major constraint.
  • College Celebrations! This year for the first time our graduating seniors wrote letters of gratitude to upper school faculty and staff and delivered the letters with yummy cupcakes. What a great way to bring smiles to many faces!

Have a wonderful weekend!


Quick Announcements

Dear 3rd to 8th Grade Parents,

We assess student learning in many ways – projects, portfolios of work, papers, end of unit tests.  Standardized tests allow us to benchmark our students’ academic performance relative to their peers at independent schools throughout the country.  This will be our third year administering the ERB standardized tests.

Educational Records Bureau, which publishes a Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP), is a global not-for-profit educational membership organization for independent, boarding, faith based and public schools.  Established in 1927, ERB is led by a group of proven innovators with a deep and diverse range of non-profit, educational experience in developing pioneering assessment tools.  ERB membership in the Caribbean includes The Antilles School on St. Thomas, as well as The American Military Academy, Tasis, and St. Johns’ schools in Puerto Rico.

The CTP provides useful information about student performance in listening, reading, vocabulary, writing, mathematics, as well as verbal and quantitative reasoning.  CTP score reports are powerful tools that help teachers reflect on instruction and curriculum, with in-depth data that scales from individual students, to classes, to entire grades. In addition, CTP reports allow us to compare our school’s student performance and growth with similar groups of achievers in other independent, suburban, public, and international schools.  Reviewing CTP scores in the 2015-2016 year led to our exploration of new math curricula (Bridges and College Preparatory Math), which we adopted this year the 2017-2018,

Third and fourth graders will take CTP tests the week of May 7th;  seventh and eighth graders, the week of May 14, and fifth and sixth graders the week of May 21.   It is essential that students arrive to school on time during that week.  In addition we ask that parents make every effort to ensure that students are well rested, and have a good breakfast.  Testing will take place in the mornings from 8:00 am to 10:00 am, and students will follow a modified schedule.  Middle School students will have a beach day in the afternoon of May 18th to celebrate the completion of ERB testing – a tradition that we began last year. Fifth and Sixth graders will have their Beach Day on Friday, May 25.   Thank you for your support.


Denise Blanchette

Head of Lower and Middle School



GHCDS Job Opening – Primary Spanish Teacher

GHCDS Job Opening – Lower School Teacher


Around Campus

National Decision Day with the Class of 2018

On Tuesday, May 1, the senior class recognized National Decision Day, the day all high school graduates must commit to their college of choice, with an activity and celebration in the Library. The class met in the library where they admired one another’s “college gear” (t-shirts, hats and other miscellany) while they wrote letters of gratitude to upper school faculty and staff. Once finished, they enjoyed looking at the map, marked with their destinations for the Fall, before grabbing the cupcake adorned with their college pennant, as well as a “thank you cupcake” to be delivered to the faculty they wrote their card to. It was a fun–and tasty–way to celebrate their decision and one another. We are so proud of all of them!

(Missing from photo: Sophie Dean, Keren Gonzalez, Billy Noelien and Q’Nefertahri Armantrading)

  • Q’Nefertahri Armantrading: La Roche College, PA
  • Julian Bishop: American University w/scholarship
  • Ella Brownsdon: ​Loyola University, New Orleans
  •  Jade Bryan:​ Roanoke College w/scholarship
  •  Webster Bozzo:​ Rider University w/swimming scholarship
  • Jenna Canegata:​ Roanoke College w/Faculty Award scholarship
  • Danielle Coleman:​ Nova Southeastern University w/scholarship
  • Rachel Conhoff: Ursinus College w/scholarship
  • Sage Crook:​ University of Colorado, Boulder w/ scholarship
  • Darien D’Amour:​ San Diego State University w/scholarship
  • Sophie Dean: Sheridan College, Canada, Musical Theater Program
  • Imani Evans:​ Suffolk University, w/scholarship
  • Crystal Fahie:​ Howard University w/scholarship
  • Caroline Flavia:​ College of the Holy Cross, w/scholarship
  •  Aaron Fleming:​ American University; w/scholarship
  •  Sydney Fleming: ​University of Tampa; w/scholarship
  •  Jalen Frorup: ​New York University w/scholarship, Early Decision
  • Keren Gonzalez: ​Houston Baptist University, w/scholarship;
  • Sarah Hardee:  George Washington University w/ Presidential scholarship;
  • Thalia Hendricks: American University
  • Leyla Idheileh: Virginia Commonwealth University w/scholarship
  • Clara Killy: American Musical and Dramatic Academy
  •  Rose Kleeger: ​ University of St. Andrews, Scotland;
  •  Kate Klempen: ​Hobart and Williams Smith College, w/scholarship, Early Decision
  • Hasani Lynch: Prince George’s Community College
  •  Joshua Morales:​ Florida Polytechnic University w/scholarship
  • Billy Noelien: ​Indiana Institute of Technology e-sports program w/scholarship
  •  Bianca Patterson:​ Gap Year
  •  Ajani Rock:  ​Old Dominion University, w/scholarship
  •  Jada Romer: ​Baylor University
  •  Ly’Nese Setorie: ​Temple University w/scholarship
  • Alexandra Starr: University of Delaware, Honors Program w/scholarship
  • Jelena Vialet:​ Temple University w/scholarship
  • Lindsey Wessel:​ Auburn University w/scholarship

Fourth Grade Visits Estate Whim Plantation Museum to complement its VI History Unit

8th Graders Enjoy the GHCDS Nature Trail

8th graders Melvyn Fox, Jenny Turk, and Luca Forno D’Adamo enjoy the GHCDS nature trail at a luncheon sponsored by Ms. Adams and the Middle School Council.


On Saturday, May 26, from 8:30 to 11:00 we are looking for parent volunteers to participate in our second trail work morning of the year.  This trail is made possible through an Urban Forestry Grant.  Last year GHCDS dad, Aaron Hutchins, offered a class for Upper School students in which they designed the trail.  Over the summer, with the help of a few parents Mrs. Harper, and community volunteers, we began work on the trail.  After the hurricane,   Mrs. Coles got to work with a group of hearty Middle School students to start up again.  Armed with clippers and bushwhacking zeal, they venture forth to work on the trail every Monday and Wednesday after lunch as part of the trail blazing elective. GHCDS alum, Morgan Coles, is working to pulverize stumps to make sure the trail is safe for joggers.

Now we are ready to create a range of features that will encourage trail walkers to stop, observe, and appreciate the beauty of the trail.   Brian Daley is meeting with Ms. Coles’ elective next week to identify trees and begin working on a map of the trail.  Mrs. Coles and her students are thinking of activities to include at different stations along the way – bird watching and tree measurement, for example.  Claudia Lombard is consulting on what kinds of signs we can use to identify trees.  Mrs. Falconer is thinking about how the Parent Council can contribute to maintaining the trail.

Our hope is that with the support of volunteers the trail will be ready in September for science exploration,  writing retreat, art inspiration, jogging,  walking – and let’s not forget Mrs. Hutchins Fairy House making after school activity.  So, if you can give a few hours trail work May 26th email Aaron Hutchins or Denise Blanchette

Parents’ Association

Dessert Buffet for the Sweet Faculty at GHCDS

Please help provide our super sweet faculty with a dessert buffet on Thursday May 10th.  Bring donations to school that morning and Parent Association Volunteers will set up the buffet for the faculty. Click the link below to help out!

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