This weekend I look forward to experiencing for the first time here on St. Croix something that all of you know so well: Ag Fair! Our students and faculty have unleashed their creativity in preparation for this annual event. Should you be on island, please come by our booth to say “hello!”
We were delighted to see many of our young alumni return for the holiday brunch in December and several others participate in the college panel to share their post-secondary experiences with our students. Our graduates can and should be a wonderful resource for our current students in the college process—and we look forward to engaging you in these efforts going forward. This might include providing a tour on your university’s campus, conducting a mock Skype interview, or simply being willing to take a phone call from a current junior or senior to share what you liked and didn’t about your particular college.
We also appreciate the members of the Class of 2014 and 2015 who took the time to complete the online surveys about their transition to college and how well GHCDS prepared them. We are already using this information to guide our efforts. Thank you!
For those of you in the Bay Area, I hope to see you later this month, per the announcement below.
Bay Area Alumni Reception: GHCDS Head of School, Kari Loya, will be attending the National Association of Independent Schools conference in San Francisco February 24-26 and is looking forward to connecting with Bay Area alumni during his visit. A small gathering will likely take place on Tuesday, February 23, between 5-8pm in either downtown San Francisco or on the Peninsula. Please let the Advancement Office (Mrs. Kiomie Pedrini, firstname.lastname@example.org, 340.778.1974 x2113 or reply/message to this post) if you are interested in attending. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Atlanta Area Alumni Reception: On Saturday, December 12, 2015, Jed Johnhope (GHS Class of ’99) and Kye Walker (GHS Class of ’95) hosted a brunch for Good Hope and Country Day Alum at Negril Village in Atlanta. Through Facebook, they made contact with roughly 30 alum before and after the event. The alumni that rsvp’d ranged from Class of ’84 to the Class of 2000. Approximately 14 Alum rsvp’d and 8 showed up. Lively discussion over brunch centered on how well GHS and CDS prepared us for college and graduate school, and memories of the rivalry between the two schools were shared. Alumni discussed the changes in St. Croix that led to the combination of the schools, and their desire to support the “new” school.
Holiday Reception: On December 18, 2015 GHCDS celebrates our alumni with a welcome home holiday brunch!
College Panel: The Good Hope Country Day School Alumni Panel, hosted by the College Counseling office, takes place either right before the Winter Break or, for the first time in 2016, the week the students return to school from the break. Alumni from the previous graduating class are invited to come speak to the high school about their college experience so far; the transition from high school and island life, selecting courses, finding a social life and things they may have done differently in high school and during their college application process. The Panel discussion is followed by a Q&A period, when current high school students can ask any questions they like of the participants. The Panel is a favored event of the junior and senior classes, who are soon to find themselves in college or out in the world, and of the alumni themselves, who enjoy sharing their experiences—both the positive and the challenging—with the high school. As a school, we truly enjoy having all alumni on campus and hearing of their new life beyond our halls. Special thanks to our alumni panel:
A Portrait of Linda Yoder – as told by Megan Lambert
Creative, versatile and dedicated, Mrs. Yoder is one of St. Croix’s teaching “greats”. She continues to inspire and encourage children to reach their highest potential while working tirelessly to create a safe and nurturing community of learners. As a young student at The Good Hope School, I was drawn to Mrs. Yoder’s warmth and her excitement about teaching. I remember that just walking by her room filled me with awe, and the anticipation of being in her class was thrilling for me. I admit to being captivated by the hands-on projects she offered. The memory of Mrs. Yoder with a group of happy children, paint brushes in hand, amidst colorful, larger than life projects is one I will always cherish. My deep love of reading took root because of Mrs. Yoder’s ability to share the finest of literature, to experience these wonderful stories with abounding enthusiasm, fitting seamlessly into the experience along with her students. My intention had always been to return to St. Croix to teach though I never dreamed that my first opportunity would be to share a classroom with Linda Yoder. The moment I stepped into my position, I realized that she had retained the same enthusiasm I remembered and had so much to share with me. As my mentor, colleague and friend she motivated by example and inspired me through her own practice as a master teacher. Now that my own children are students in Mrs. Yoder’s third grade, I share with other parents the excitement of her planning for those dearest to me. I relive the excitement of learning all over again as I hear the events of the day. Reading on the rug, hearing about the things that make Mrs. Yoder laugh and the projects to come are again a part of daily conversation in my home. Thank you, Mrs. Yoder, for your patience, caring and empathy for those around you.
Tale of Two Brothers: Sheldon & Jason Williams
As two brothers growing up on St. Croix, Sheldon and Jason Williams (GHS ’99 and CDS ’05) shared interests including sports, science, and alternative health care. Their parents, Marlon and Cindy Williams, believed in a more holistic approach to health and started one of the first chiropractic practices on St. Croix and later expanded to their home island of Trinidad and Tobago. As a student, Sheldon was jovial and rambunctious, and as enthusiastic about athletics as academics. . However, it wasn’t until Sheldon transferred to GHS in 10th grade that he would finally embrace the arts, taking center stage for theatrical and musical productions. Sheldon reflects, “It was the discipline and well-rounded environments of CDS and GHS that motivated me to pursue a career in healthcare.” After graduation, he attended Logan College of Chiropractic. Sheldon returned to St. Croix in 2006 to take over the family practice and work alongside his mentor and father, Marlon, until 2012 when the family decided to expand their practice to Trinidad and Tobago. This opened an opportunity for Jason to return home after receiving his Doctoral Degree in Chiropractic and join the family practice. Jason fondly remembers all his teachers and classes from CDS but cites Roger Summerhayes’ Chemistry class as what most drove him to work harder and inspired his love for science. Jason also remembers working as a teacher’s assistant for Mrs. Martin’s Science class, which gave him the opportunity to teach others. Today, Dr. Sheldon Williams is running two practices in Trinidad and Tobago as well as penning a book on personal development, while Dr. Jason Williams is running the St. Croix branch of Williams Chiropractic. Both Dr. Sheldon and Jason Williams believe strongly that their job as doctors is to teach people to treat themselves.
Aiming High: Kristian Fennessy
Kristian Fennessy, GHS ’10, graduated salutatorian of his class and has been aiming high ever since. He studied Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a concentration in Building Technology. When asked what sparked his interest in architecture, he responded with “my interest in architecture and building technology originated from my desire to blend my unique combination of artistic and technical skills. I also hoped to pursue a field of study in which I could provide a valuable service to the community and society”. For his senior thesis at MIT, he produced a guide for designers to integrate natural ventilation in the early stages of building design, one of several works that he published as an undergraduate. Kristian says “my time at GHS prepared me for my career by exposing me to many people from various backgrounds and walks of life. This experience allows me to better serve my clients by better understanding their viewpoints and needs”. While at GHS, his favorite teacher, Ned Washburn was his primary sources of guidance, expertise, and inspiration. Kristian says, “Mr. Washburn was able to captivate the hearts and minds of his students by simply being himself. He was a modern-day Renaissance man; I have yet to meet a teacher with the depth of knowledge he possessed in many different subject areas”. Certainly, growing up on St. Croix and being exposed to the unique architectural landscape which draws from the Czechoslovakian, Dutch, English, French, German, Scandinavian, and Spanish settlers throughout its rich history had a formative effect on Kristian’s appreciation for architecture and design. Kristian has since relocated to San Francisco, California and currently works as a Management Consultant specializing in Capital Projects and Infrastructure at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the largest professional services firm in the world. He plans to become a leading figurehead in the Consumer Industrial Products and Services industry.
A Passion For Change Brings One CDS Alum Home: Elizabeth Neville
Elizabeth Neville, CDS ’07, has enjoyed many adventures since graduating, but she always knew that they would ultimately lead her home to her favorite place in the world: St. Croix. A licensed attorney in California, she currently works as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Honorable Robert Anthony Molloy at the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix Division. Elizabeth says the most fulfilling part of her job is using her legal research and writing skills to help solve controversies with the community. Prior to returning to St. Croix, she earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Colorado Law School and her Bachelor’s Degree in English with a Writing and Rhetoric emphasis from Pepperdine University. During and immediately following her time as a student, she worked as an Editorial Coordinator of a human rights treatise, International Energy and Poverty: Emerging Contours, and completed legal internships with Refugees International Japan, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Animal Welfare Institute. Elizabeth plans to pursue a career in public interest environmental and animal welfare law, and she credits her passion for these areas in large part to the oceanography class that she took as a high school senior (taught by Duane Minton), in which she read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, watched documentaries on orca captivity, and discussed environmental issues facing St. Croix at length, as well as her time spent volunteering at the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center. Elizabeth lives by the quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Cruzan Venture Capitalist: Cory Bishop
In 2012, after placing 3rd in a venture capital competition his senior year at Bucknell University and winning $1000 in seed capital, Cory Bishop, GHS ’08, jumped into the risk-induced world of the New York startup tech scene. He remembers, “I had no idea what I wanted to do after college until I entered that venture plan competition and immediately became obsessed with creating something from nothing. It’s just like painting, drawing, or any sort of artistic medium: you have an idea; you throw it out there, fine tune it, and see how people react”. I think my progressive GHS education, growing up on the massive cultural melting pot of St. Croix, and even more so, my family and our mixed heritage, helped me combine both sides of my brain: the creative and the logical. His favorite teacher at GHS was Phyllis Biddle because of her passion for the arts and her philosophy that creativity has no set paradigm of rules. Cory believes success in his work requires not just technical skill, but also a good eye for design, colors, and aesthetic in today’s consumer driven and mobile-centric world. Fast-forward nearly four years after graduating college in 2012 and Cory has successfully designed, launched, and managed numerous apps, platforms and websites. He’s currently shifting gears to focus on two new ventures, while in the process of exiting ShopDrop, his first successful app which is focused around shopping in New York City. He also has a new found love for writing. He says its good therapy and helps the creative thought process by allowing ideas to breathe and evolve. You can see his latest musings https://medium.com/@mistabishop. Cory currently lives in Brooklyn, but wants to get to a point where he’s not tethered to a single location. He’s traveled to many places, but St. Croix still inspires him the most. He says, “The tranquility and smooth pace allow your brain and ideas to breathe and work without mental clutter”. His goal is to eventually live in St. Croix for most of the year, bring new ventures here, and coach soccer.