WE ARE PANTHER STRONG!
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What is your first memory of GHCDS?
Stewart: My first memory of GHCDS was bringing my boys to tour the campus. I remember walking around the campus and having the feeling that this was absolutely, one hundred percent, where I wanted my children to be. Seeing the joy in their eyes as the classroom that they would potentially be in, was pointed out to them, excitedly peeking through the windows. Their excitement in seeing the swimming pool and knowing that learning to swim would be part of the curriculum and physical education program. The joy on their faces as we walked around the outdoor campus, which was a new thing for us, was amazing. It was fascinating to see their joy and there was no doubt that this was where I wanted my children to be.
Sarah: On the way home, I asked the kids, “What did you think about the school?” They responded, “I would really like to go there!” Initially, we decided that we could not afford GHCDS, so we started homeschooling. One day during a lesson, my son blurted out, “I just want to go to Good Hope Country Day School. We really want to go to that school.” After that, we knew that we had to make it happen.
What does GHCDS give your children that you value most?
Stewart: The most important thing for me is the multi-cultural perspective, a diverse student body and faculty who bring different perspectives, cultures, ideas, and thoughts into the classroom. I love the fact that the teacher to student ratio is much smaller than the average public school in the Unites of America. This is huge for me. I know that their teachers know my children. I have the comfort of knowing that they really know their peers and that there is genuine care and love on an individual basis for my children.
Sarah: At their previous school, my boys had 32 to 35 kids in each class. Being in their classroom and working with them was always overwhelming for me. The environment is very different here. I know all of the kids here. Seeing my children being outside, spending one on one time with their teacher, having lunch with their teacher. It is a great opportunity for social growth and development outside the classroom. This is unique. In the states, the teachers drop the kids at the cafeteria, filled with thousands of other kids and do not see them again until lunchtime is over. So it is nice to see the relationship that is built with the teachers here… it is a real blessing.
Can you recall a fond memory that stands out for you about GHCDS!
Stewart: Post hurricane Maria, gathering on campus with shovels, rakes, saws, hatchets… finding students, parents, faculty, administrators and alumni here on campus. It was a priority. The school is so important to the community that even before taking care of our own homes, we were all at school seeing what needed to be accomplished. There was a great feeling of camaraderie and love for our school. Our community gathered together, literally shedding blood, sweat and tears, working together to get things up and running as soon as possible. We got into the car after we had finished the first of many long and emotionally exhausting days and knew that we had experienced a sense of community that we would not experience elsewhere. This was special. This was unique. It was not about individuals but about our community.
Sarah: It gave us all a sense of purpose and belonging. After any tragedy or disaster, there is the opportunity to spin emotionally out of control and feel helpless because you are focusing on the massive tasks ahead of you and focus on your individual needs. Working towards re-opening the school gave us the opportunity be a part of something bigger than our individual selves. At GHCDS we are a part of something bigger.
Why do you support the annual fund?
Sarah: This is our community. Perpetually giving to education is something that we value…it just seems right for us to do this. We do a payroll deduction and it comes right out of each paycheck… it is important.
Stewart: A long time ago, I decided that there was very little I can do to change the world. As I thought about that, I was disheartened and frustrated. I decided, I couldn’t work on a grand scale but I could work on a smaller scale, on things that I have direct control over. In my classroom, that meant that I could change the world, one student at a time. I can work with an individual and I can make a difference to that student. As far as giving goes… I am not going to be able to write the big checks for now… but I can donate something. I can make a difference, whether that is $5.00 or $10.00, the amount for me is not important, the fact is I can make a difference through my giving, in a small way. So I do.
How did GHS impact my life?
I was challenged academically at every stage of my education by teachers who still stand out to me today. I learned at GHS how to look at all walks of life with curiosity and compassion. I developed rich relationships with my fellow students. I learned how to conduct myself in an environment where the values of hard work, mutual respect, kindness, and excellence were demanded, practiced, and achieved.
Why I serve on the GHCDS board?
My 14 years at the Good Hope School were the most influential building block in who I am today. Nature gave me the DNA of an entrepreneurial, get-things-done leader. Nurture, which I received at GHS, gave me EVERYTHING else. My exposure to theatre arts, sports, wide varieties of literature, oration, history, art appreciation, student government and interpersonal dynamics at GHS made me well-rounded. The faculty expected the best from me and helped when I needed support and focus. I feel when you are given the greatest of gifts, you have to give back. I do not have any children at GHCDS but, I give my time to this board because of all the gifts GHS gave me. It feels like a debt that can never be repaid.
Why do I support the annual fund?
It is so important that there be an excellent college preparatory private school on St. Croix. Those of us who were educated at Good Hope or Country Day have to give back in order to keep the new merged school running efficiently and to make it competitive with private institutions stateside. My contribution to the annual fund is essential to the Good Hope Country Day School, similar to supporting locally-owned businesses; I feel great knowing that I have contributed to the institution that made me who I am.
What is your first memory of GHCDS as a parent?
My first memory of GHCDS was arriving at school with my sons and not being sure that our family would fit in. It might seem like a small thing, but I was concerned we may not fit in to the culture of the school as my family was raised Hispanic/Crucian which is a mix up of cultures. When we arrived here our surprise, the teachers were very welcoming … the parents were super welcoming… the Deans and even the Head of School, were so welcoming and the variety of cultures, religions and backgrounds that we experienced was really refreshing and comforting.
What are your two greatest memories about the school as a parent?
My greatest memory was when the school did the Olweus bully prevention program and we had the talent show in which all the kids had to do something that supported or represented bully prevention. The talent show was so well put together. The songs, the performances, the students, even the Head of School at the time, performed. It was an amazing concert. The quality of performance, the content and the message that was brought that day was spectacular. I was in awe in how strong the message and community was. For me the Olweus bully prevention program was very important because as a parent I wanted to make sure that my kids were in a safe learning environment. When I drop them off in the morning and I am at work, I do not want to have to worry about my sons and their well-being … I felt comfortable dropping them off in the morning knowing that they were safe.
What do you like most about the school today?
I love the dedication of the staff. I spend a lot of time behind the scenes on Parents’ Association projects, so I get to see first-hand the faculty and staff spending the extra hours and coming in on their days off and when you see their dedication it’s priceless… people giving of themselves putting the students first even before their own personal lives. In this world it is rare to see that true dedication. Also I like the inclusiveness and diversity of the school. Our kids have really been given the opportunity to be exposed to a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds and I feel that is a very important part of a well-rounded development.
Why do you give to the annual fund?
When we initially worked out the cost of tuition, we could not make it work but we did not want our two boys going to two different schools. In addition, we knew GHCDS was going to provide them a quality education and we wanted that for our sons. I support the annual fund because it afforded us the ability to make it happen. The Head of School encouraged us to apply for financial aid. Fortunately, with the financial assistance we were given, we were able to enroll our sons.
What is your first memory of GHCDS (or in this case, CDS) as a teacher?
Summerhayes: Setting up my chemistry lab that first year (1984). The building had just been constructed that summer, and I was delighted to have a brand new facility and equipment & supplies to fill it. It was such a contrast to my Peace Corps experience in Fiji, where I had NO lab equipment and was forced to rely on “chalk ‘n’ talk.”
Baker: I was visiting Roger in his first year. I couldn’t believe how open the classrooms were to the outdoors, being used to closed up buildings of classrooms. The faculty was incredibly close, socializing together often.
What are your 2-3 greatest memories as teachers?
Summerhayes: My best teaching memory was giving extra help to a young lady in chemistry. She had a huge mental block about math problems, and we found a way together to work through them. She went on to become a doctor, and I was thrilled.
Another great memory was winning the Best Teacher award (chosen by students) for a few years. I found it incredibly rewarding that, as demanding as I am with course content, students recognized the value of being pushed by me to do their best.
Other great memories come from demonstrations I do in science. Many are counterintuitive and evoke a lot of “Wow!” and “What?!?” from my students. That excitement about science happening before their eyes is a joy to me.
Baker: I’ll treasure being asked to be the guest speaker to 8th grade Celebration after teaching there for 18 years. It was great fun. A sadder memory is seeing Peggy Keylin picking through the rubble of the Middle School after Hurricane Hugo to find any salvageable books. The greatest teaching memory is of the student who wrote “I hated science until your class.” That student went on to major and work in a science field.
What do you love most about the School today?
Summerhayes: The racial and cultural diversity–I adore the mix that is this island and this school. Blacks, whites, Hispanics, Arabs, other islanders, Danes, Indians, Vietnamese, et. al. I love my summers off in New York State, but I miss the heterogeneity of our school during that time. Despite our geographic isolation here, our population is wonderfully global and inclusive.
Baker: I love the academic freedom. Teachers are given so many opportunities to follow their intellectual hearts. (Is that a contradiction?)
Why have you chosen to support the Annual Fund?
Summerhayes: Private schools (particularly GHCDS) deliver so much for so little. While tuition is high for this island, it is very low compared to stateside private schools. Given the hit-or-miss nature of some public school education, we offer consistent quality, and it needs to be supported by all of us, however we are able.
Baker: I think everyone should support their education. This is personal – the students who benefit from the Annual Fund sit in my classroom and I know the struggles their parents face to keep them in those seats.
Photo Credit: Jolynn Grace
My first memory of Good Hope Country Day School was serving coffee to parents and visitors on the first day of school. It means a lot to me to help create a warm welcome for parents, faculty, and students as they embark on a new year, with cautious anticipation. I am moved when I get to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones on registration day. It’s truly heartwarming—I remember not wanting to go home!
We started at GHS and moved over with the transition. It was a natural move for us as we knew traditions and philosophies would be combined. We wanted to join a school community where Cereyna would be looked after and nurtured to be her best self. The amazing faculty and support staff, all with unique talents and contributions, are selfless in their giving. They should be celebrated—they are responsible for the many successes of the School and its students. I am very proud of that.
I choose to contribute to the GHCDS Annual Fund and volunteer because it is important to give back and stay involved. I have served in an executive capacity on the GHS and GHCDS parents’ association and trustee boards for the past eight years. I understand the need to give on all levels. I cannot give a lot, but I believe that every gift matters. An independent school needs resources beyond tuition dollars to be able to provide the best programs possible.
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Photo Credit: Nicole Canegata
My first memory at Country Day School was when I arrived for testing a year after Hugo. My previous school, Montessori House of Children, had been destroyed in the storm. I felt like I had moved to the big leagues because it was a much stricter environment. One of my greatest memories is winning Orange and White Day; we worked so hard trying to win tug of war! We had so much school pride! The other outstanding memory I have is my graduation where my mother was selected as the guest speaker. Not many people have that privilege.
Country Day School fostered academic excellence and an appreciation for diversity, which helped prepare me for Penn State University. My strong start at CDS greatly contributed to the lawyer I am today. What I love about the School is that we are flexible to new ideas while staying true to our history of academic excellence and diversity.
I chose to serve on the Board of Trustees because I wanted to give back to my School and community in a concrete way. Both my parents served in different capacities and I always knew I wanted to contribute in a significant way.
I donate to the annual fund because it is the most efficient way that an alum can help the School continue to provide the same high-quality education for others that I was fortunate to receive.
My first memory of Country Day School was walking into the pre-k building on the first day holding my mom’s hand and not wanting to let go. From then until graduation, there were so many memories. I started coming out of my shell in middle school, participating in sports, student government, and yearbook. I loved the yearbook with Ms. Hatch, spending hours taking pictures with friends. I also loved Orange and White Day and Mini Gusto, particularly in 1982 when I learned to scuba dive and overcame my fear of water.
I chose to send my kids to Good Hope Country School (GHCDS) because I wanted to give them the same experience I had before heading to college. My children come home happy and eager to go back every day. The School provides a personal touch that I felt when I was there and my children thrive because of it. I still maintain my friendships from my days at CDS and I know they will, too.
I decided to serve on the board of trustees when asked 10 years ago. It wasn’t an easy decision because I knew it was a big time commitment, but I wanted to give back and use my skill-set to serve in any way I could. I also wanted to help preserve that special sense of community that I felt when I was a student.
I donate to the annual fund because by participating you are showing you believe in the School and what they are doing. Tuition alone does not cover everything and it is important to show your support at any level.
One of my first memories at Country Day School was celebrating the 100th day of school when I was in the 1st grade and creating a hat with a hundred objects on it. I spent hours gluing a hundred pennies to that hat. The memories would continue through the years. One of the most memorable was in the 2nd grade; a few students teased me at lunch for my mashed zucchini. However, Matthew Patton and Sean Marin, who I graduated with years later, stood up on the benches and gave a speech about the problems with bullying and how I should be allowed to eat whatever I like. We remain friends to this day. Another fond memory was in the 4th grade we had to build Tiano villages and I worked with a group of 4 people. We spent hours trying to make it as realistic as possible. I was ecstatic when my group placed in the contest.
I love that there are still so many traditions that were around when I went to school here. It is nice watching students go through things that I remember so fondly. One of my favorite traditions that still remain is Mini Gusto. One of the most memorable was in the 10th grade when I took a moko jumbie class. On the last day, the group walked around the campus on stilts. It was a really exciting experience that I will never forget.
I donate to the annual fund because I think it is important to support the school that made me who I am today. I want to be part of keeping our school’s family going.